"On every occasion say less rather than more and always be afraid of saying too much..."
You can read the whole quote by Pope John XXIII here...
What these words spoke to me was the realization that we need to carefully discern how LOUD we are being in social media. Of course there wasn't such a thing when Pope John XXIII made this statement but it is still relevant today.
How ANNOYINGLY LOUD we can be with constant twittering and Facebook pops and everything media in the world.
I realized this a while back when a friend lamented to me that someone had complained to her about all the religious messages she shared on FB. What she may, or may not, have realized is that every time she hit "like" those same pictures/quotes/sharings were showing up yet again to her FB friends. Double the goodness, right? Double the awesomeness, right:
I know people who "unfriend" or "block" people who share too much of anything. I'll be upfront...it can be very annoying.
For that matter, as far as I know, some people have probably blocked or unfriended me for these very same reasons. I'm the pot calling the kettle black but as least I know what color I am. I can't do anything about that. We both have freedom of press afterall and we are all very different people in interests and hobbies and crusades and, yes, intelligence. Social media gives us the outlet to speak our mind and, speak it, we do.
Still, I ask myself, when tempted to share a quote/picture/religious view, if that will isolate my FB friends. My FB vine travels from those who know me well (husband, children, parents) to those who haven't seen me since we graduated high school in 1986 on to those kindred spirits I've never met in-real life but who read my little ponderings and feel a connection with me through the communication of written words.
I have tried to be very vigilant and make my use of social media very mediated and mindful. It might not look that way to everyone. My FB page consists of funny things my children say, links to articles I want to read later and are worried I'll forget about, pictures of family and pictures I love, quotes I adore, thoughtful ponderings, sporadic exclamations, and links to the online places where I write, and postings of friends I enjoy reading.
And I'm just one person!
My! that is a lot of spillage! especially when multiplied by the other XXX amount of friends one has on FB.
Still, we can't please everyone, right?
My balancing is that I don't do twitter (my blog is set up to automatically post there), I don't play any games online (I mean any---please no more Candy Crust invites because I won't accept it---I don't have time for that), I rarely check email except for work related messages, and I'm decluttering my GoogleReader. I also do a little Instagram simply for fun. It's just a picture-snapshot and no more.
My social media consists of very little but I guess it can look large to people who don't write and don't sell books and don't live in words. I believe there's a difference.
And so I'm always looking at where to cut back, where to reign in, where to reserve my energies...
...WHERE TO BE SILENT!
Recently our Holy Father told us that Catholics must "watch their tongues". Again, the message is silence, in conjunction with Pope John XXIII's message above. I'm still learning that art. Pope Francis is such a wise spiritual father. I just love him.
I'm probably speaking in circles but the point I'm trying to make is that if we are over texting, over blogging, over emailing, over Twitting, over FBing then we don't allow our garden to recultivate itself.
In the old days, farmers learned that to till and plant and grow a garden in the same location year after year was bad for the land. The soil didn't have time to replenish. It grew exhausted and useless. There are times we need to pull back and restrain from using sacred ground.
It's a holy art because we must eat, we must nourish ourselves and yet...
Sacrifice...in the long run...is good for us.
But, here's the reality check regarding social media...Our recent Holy Fathers have told us that the internet can serve as a valuable evangelizing tool to combat the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad social media that exists out there. So we are called to use these social media forms for the good. We truly are.
And, yet, to hear our voices sing, we overdo.
Too much goodness is like too sweet a grape or too juicy a cantaloupe or too sugary a melon or too ripe a banana. It swells with goodness and explodes...sending life forth, yes, but also the fruit never reaches the palate of the one who needs to eat of it.
That's my point with social media. We can make our FB page so utterly Catholic-oriented that we are speaking only to the choir. Everyone else has left us. The atheist has left the building. The agnostic has slammed the door. The high school friend searching for himself has unfriended us. The friendless cousin of a cousin has blocked us.
It is far better, and the Popes agree, to be silent and let no one guess what we are about until the Holy Spirit reaches out and touches them...not because of us but through us...in silence.