When I started out on Twitter a little over a year ago, I had one goal – to be witty. Just about everything I posted was hoping for a re-tweet, a reply, or at least a laugh.
Facebook was different because I’m a youth minister, and Facebook is my primary mode of communication with teens. I have lots of teens and former teens who are friends on Facebook, so I am always careful to watch what I say and how I say it.
But Twitter, well, Twitter was my “adult” world. I could be a little more snarky and sarcastic and push the envelope a little more because all my followers (at that time) were adults. I didn’t even tell my teens that I had Twitter because I didn’t want them to follow me – I didn’t want to have to watch what I said all the time. I wanted to be witty and funny and flirt with the line of appropriateness.
Last March, someone I look up to and admire greatly said to me, “I love following you on Twitter – you’re always so funny!” The euphoric pride I felt was quickly (and thankfully) smashed by a spiritual director who asked me how the Twitter persona I had so carefully crafted was leading me closer to God.
So, when Lent rolled around last year, I decided to give up Twitter and spend some time re-evaluating how I was using this particular social media tool. I was back full force after Easter (hopefully) still witty, but also much more conscious about how I was using this technology to bring glory to God rather than to myself. It wasn’t hard to do, and the Lenten fast served it’s purpose – with unexpected benefits. I found myself being much more open about my personal faith on both Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately, the change also had some unexpected drawbacks. I don’t get re-tweeted as much any more or get very many funny replies to my tweets – though those are relatively minor consequences and have become less important to me. No, the biggest and most unexpected drawback has been the rejection I’ve experienced.
It turns out that some of my friends are getting sick of me always posting about “religious crap” (their words). This would be easy to ignore if it were just random followers or one of the Facebook friends I probably wouldn’t stop to say hi to on the street (we’ve all got them). Nope, it’s actually been some of my close “real life” friends who have started to grumble.
One friend has started passive aggressively posting an anti-Christian video clip, article, or comment on his own Facebook wall every time I post something about my faith on mine. Another tried to bring one of my best friends into the mix asking, “Could you talk to her about it maybe? All that religious crap is getting kind of old.” Some have hidden my posts from their news feeds and others have unfriended me completely.
I’m trying not to be hurt and offended by the rejection. I’m trying to remember that even Jesus’ preaching wasn’t accepted in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13). I’m trying to rejoice and be glad and hold out for that great reward in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12). I’m trying to avoid the temptation to dump it all and go back to the wit and snark. I’m trying to hold on to the people who’ve made positive comments on my posts, thanked me for sharing my faith with them, or written me privately to engage in discussion about our faith…but let’s face it – rejection sucks. And it sucks worse (most? harder? not sure what the right superlative is here…) when you are rejected in any way – even a small way – by those you are closest to.
So, one of my penances for this Lent is not giving up Facebook or Twitter. I love social media and it would be hard for me to stay away from it – even for just personal use (I know some youth ministers who make a commitment to only use Facebook for work). But I’m wondering if giving them up might be the easy way out. Instead, I’m going to be making an even more concerted effort to ask myself before I post anything, “How does this bring glory to God?”
That doesn’t mean I can’t still be witty and funny – even making others laugh can bring glory to God (as I wrote in a previous blog), but it does mean laying off the sarcasm and stepping up the personal witness. It means continuing to share articles about the USCCB’s latest response to the HHS mandate because I’m called to be a light in the darkness (John 1:5). It means sharing about what God is doing in and through my heart as I journey through St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration this Lent with humility because it is a way I can honor both Christ and His Mother. It means creating my Twitter and Facebook worlds to be a place of true Christian community because it is one way I can live out the communal life of the apostles in the 21st century (Acts 2:42-45).
My sincerest hope is that by not giving up Facebook or Twitter during Lent this year, I can better live out Paul’s challenge in his letter to the Phillippians.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (4:8)
Maybe you are giving up Facebook and Twitter (in which case, you probably won’t see this blog until after Easter), but if you’re not, I’d love for you to join me… Risk rejection; share more than just your “head knowledge” of your faith and start sharing your heart. Then, when all of our social media fasting brethren return after Easter, maybe they’ll find Facebook and Twitter to be better, holier places than when they left.