How I Use Social Media

“My Facebook is more like Dramabook today,” she said.  As she told me about her friends’ angst, I remembered a younger me, a different time, when every cause on the web seemed like something that ought to be taken up.  But older me has learned that (a) nobody really cares what I think about any particular issue anyway, and (b) these arguments do nothing to further my vocation to motherhood, to raising and educating these children for the glory of God.

I’ve learned – and keep learning – that I can’t change the hearts on the other side of my computer screen, but I can influence the ones around my table.

There was a time not so very long ago when there was a vibrant community of Catholic “mommy bloggers” on the web.  Most of us are quiet now, except on Facebook, and I always think that’s such a shame, for we still have so much to offer one another.  And actually, most of us are quiet on Facebook, too; it’s not a good forum for communicating deep thoughts, and when we make an attempt, we are bombarded with a barrage of hateful, hurtful comments.

We’ve become so accustomed, as a society, to communicating via screens, and we forget too easily that there is an actual person on the other side of that screen, a person already wounded by this soulless world.  We let careless words fly, heedless that they cut like daggers.  We read too much meaning into the most innocuous of posts, tearing down instead of building up.

Another glorious sunrise.

Another glorious sunrise.

It’s a harsh world, and it takes some effort to keep all that drama and angst from defining your day.  It takes vigilance to avoid becoming part of the problem.

Sometimes, for some people, the answer is to walk away, at least for a time, but so many of us have found community through social media where none exists locally.  And for the more transient among us, it allows us to keep up with the friendships we’ve acquired in our travels and the extended family we’ve left behind.  It’s a shame to give up all the good to protect against the bad if it isn’t absolutely necessary, and I find that some basic ground rules are effective for me.

  1. Don’t be afraid to delete comments.  I consider my spaces on the web an extension of my home, and if you speak to me or my guests in a way that would be inappropriate in my living room, I just delete.  I don’t explain myself or offer any warnings.  The comment just disappears.  I don’t mind disagreement and discussion, but I expect visitors to always honor the person they are speaking to.
  2. You don’t have to be friends with everyone.  It’s not a contest to see who can get the most friends, likes and follows, even though it can feel like it sometimes.  Unfriending or unfollowing the people who routinely make me feel uncomfortable, discouraged or angry keeps my feed angst-free.  Mostly.
  3. Find the forum that works best for you.  I love my blog, but I also post often throughout the day to Instagram.  It’s a friendlier place than Facebook, and the photos and captions are collected automatically into Chatbooks, which they print and mail to me each month.  The whole family adores these little books, so my posts are mostly memory-keeping.  I seldom post directly to Facebook, choosing instead to share selected Instagrams that I think my mom would like.  Or Marla, being the archetype of Friends Who Aren’t On Instagram.
  4. Be the light you’re looking for.  Whatever you wish you were seeing in your feed, be that for other people.  There’s a difference between needing prayers or encouragement on a bad day and constantly complaining about every little thing that happens.  There’s a difference between sharing a concern or thought that invites discussion and telling your friends why they absolutely must support your point of view.  I try to come from a place of love, understanding and gratitude.  I don’t always succeed, but that’s the goal.  I don’t want to be bitter or hard-hearted, not in real life, and not on the internet.
  5. Watch your time.  There’s a whole beautiful world out there, full of intriguing, wonderful people.  There’s one standing at my knee right now, two years old and singing the ABC song as I type.  I don’t want that screen to come between me and the people I’m supposed to be loving.  I don’t want that to be the thing they remember most about me.  That means that I really can’t have Facebook on my iPod.  It’s too tempting to spend too much time there, and it’s a shallow, shallow place.  Better to keep a book handy for those forced down times (like nursing the baby) which are my trigger.
  6. Leave a comment. The whole point of social media is to be… social.  We need to talk to each other, not just “like” and run.  Share a helpful experience.  Offer praise.  Commiserate.  Encourage.  Laugh.  But go ahead and speak.  That’s why we’re here.

How about you?  What is your favorite social media and how do you keep it from dragging you down?  Do you worry about likes and follows?  Do you want to give it all up? What are your favorite pizza toppings?

I can't believe God does this every day.

I can’t believe God does this every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “How I Use Social Media

  1. Sarah Edstrom

    These are the rules I follow, too, in my use of social media. In my early days online, I would imagine my grandma sitting next to me as I commented on blogs. Now, when I choose what to ‘like’ or ‘share’ on FB, I ask myself, “Is this kind? Is this necessary? Is this helpful?” By the time I get to the end of asking myself those three questions, I find there is very little that ends up on FB.

    Now that Google has cancelled it’s feed reader, I find that the dozen or so blogs I used to read has dwindled to two or three. This is sad, in a way, because I loved reading the stories from other people’s lives and I got so much encouragement and helpful advice reading them, especially when I was a new mom all those years ago. I guess I’m left to change with the times. :)

    Reply
    1. Jennie Cooper Post author

      I still miss reader. I use Feedly now, but it isn’t quite as good. I admit I have a hard time getting around to blogs nowadays. Just a lack of time, not interest. But it is encouraging to read about others. It keeps my enthusiasm fresh. :-)

      Reply
  2. Anne

    I don’t care much about likes or follows. I write my blog because it’s therapeutic and I love recording the happy from the day. It’s been private for years now and sometimes it doesn’t even cross my mind that anyone will read it. Sometimes I miss the community that a public blog brings, but then so much of the blog world has slowed down and died off that it doesn’t matter so much.

    I love love love the instagram + chatbooks combo. I stopped faithfully printing pictures and putting them in albums probably four or five years ago, and chatbooks has come along to save the day! We keep them stacked up in easy reach, and the kids love going through them remembering the moment of the photo. I love pouring through them with they first arrive. I agree it’s a happier, less political place than fb.

    I stay on facebook mostly for homeschool-y stuff. I’m a member of a number of local groups (on facebook only) but they alert me to possible field trip opportunities, etc. And yes, some family and friends are there but not on IG.

    Reply
  3. Emily G

    I follow the same rules, Jennie. I don’t use social media much, though. I’ve cut back drastically on the blogs I read. I needed the time, and I decided if I didn’t have anything to say to the author in a comment, that I didn’t belong reading her words. I left FB over 6 years ago and haven’t looked back with anything but relief. I stopped blogging about 3 years ago. I still have mixed feelings about that. I stopped for a complex mixture of time constraints/privacy/deciding it wasn’t worth it, but I do miss it sometimes. I miss exercising my writing voice and I have not yet started doing that anywhere else. IG is my first time to post content online in years. I am enjoying it, yet at the same time unsure if I really want to be sharing content on the internet. I’m staying small and trying to leave comments on the photos of the folks I follow . That seems so uncommon, that I have a silly worry that people will think I’m a creepy stalker because I always comment. As you said, it’s “social” media. I want to give back. That’s another reason I started using IG. I think if I’m going to absorb and enjoy things others share online, I should give something in return. Sometimes it feels like the internet is so big, this effort won’t be noticed or appreciated. I do miss the strength the Catholic mommy blogger community had in the past. I’ll also take this opportunity to say thank you to you, again for your the time you take to write here and the words you say. Your positive, loving attitude is always uplifting and I always get a happy feeling like I might get from a few minutes on the phone with another mama who understands.
    Oh, and pizza toppings? 😉 Well, I roasted garden fresh tomatoes, summer squash onions and garlic this week and used that as my “sauce” under peppers and herbs and cheese. It might be my new favorite. I can’t wait for fresh mozzarella next summer-it will be a dream come true!

    Reply
  4. Barbara

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been going through my FB feed and anything that is not written directly by my friend, or very much of interest to me, I “hide” the source. I am finding now that it takes very little time to go through my FB feed without all the “shares.”

    I had my blog private for about a month because I was afraid a potential employer would find my blog and “use it” against me. I’ve now applied for 26 jobs and have had no interest, so I made the blog public again. I think it’s the least of my worries at this point.

    Reply

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