What a great question. I know you are not alone in this struggle. I myself still struggle with this same issue.
The seeming anonymity of social media can make people more likely to say things they wouldn’t normally say to someone face to face, and lead to mean comments that cut to the core. This can be difficult to deal with but I wanted to share a couple things I have learned working for a parish with an active social media presence.
The first thing I have learned is to take a moment and pray when I read a comment. Defense is our natural reaction. But often, comments degrading our faith are coming from a place of pain or mistrust. So, we should pray for that person, that their hearts be open to the Gospel message. We must also pray for ourselves, that we be vessels of love as we share the truth of our faith. (It also helps me calm down, as sometimes that Irish temper can rear its ugly head.)
often, comments degrading our faith are coming from a place of pain or mistrust.
Once I have taken time to pray, I discern whether the subject is something that should really be discussed over social media. Some topics are best left to in-person conversations and its ok to say that. Suggest that a Facebook comment feed might not be the best place to have this conversation but give another option. Offer to get together and discuss the topic further perhaps over coffee if that’s an option, or open a private message if an in-person conversation is not feasible.
If the topic is one that you feel you can have a productive conversation over social media, then ask Mary for courage like you have been doing, and speak truth. Sometimes people are just looking to pick a fight. If this is the case, then speak your peace and let it go. If the conversation goes into a tail spin of petty fighting, just walk away. Let the person know that you would be happy to speak more but the conversation is no longer going anywhere, and if they continue to make disparaging remarks you will not be engaging in the conversation. Often though, people ask questions because they want to know answers.
Rather than being scared of being judged, remember you can be a light in someone’s darkness.
We are made for the truth, and when many comments are made, answers are sought. Remember the love of Christ and speak from that place. Recently Pope Francis gave a TED talk in which he said, “Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.” Rather than being scared of being judged, remember you can be a light in someone’s darkness. The world is screaming for the love of Christ. Through our witness to the Gospel on social media we can show them the way to life and joy.
I know it can be scary but remember that at Pentecost Christ sent us the Holy Spirit as our advocate. We are not alone in our work of preaching the Gospel. Trust in Him and speak with love. If you do that you will do all the Lord asks of you.Know of my prayers for you.
Raised Catholic, Amy Deibert's faith really came alive when she served as a missionary with NET Ministries after high school. She has a heart for youth ministry, Momma Mary and traveling. She blogs at www.morethanexisting.org where she shares stories of women living faithful lives to the Gospel and the Faith around the world.