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EDITORIAL | Social media can be a force for good, if used in the right way

There are several things we must consider before posting or commenting on social media

Is social media a blessing or a curse? Arguments for the latter would point to the addictive nature of the likes of Facebook and other interactive technologies, how they actually decrease face-to-face communication skills, and the divisiveness and nastiness seen online, especially in comments.

But among the positives is how quickly a prayer request can spread; a plea for help can be answered; and the sharing of the Good News can uplift others.

The Catholic Post, newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, shared a post on their Facebook page about a June 9 car accident involving three Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George from Rock Island. The post included an invitation to prayer, and it was widely shared, quickly reaching 30,000 users and drawing more than 400 comments.

In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a Facebook post about U.S. gold medalist Katie Ledecky shared how she credits her Catholic faith as a calming factor when she competes. The post received 600 likes and nearly 50 shares.

“I do say a prayer — or two — before any race. The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me,” she told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

At the Catholic Media Association’s 2021 conference, held virutally in June, Bishop Robert E. Barron, an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and one of the Church’s foremost experts and utilizers of media, offered three questions that everyone should ask before they post a topic or comment on social media.

First, he said, ask: “Is it true what I’m saying?” Second, “Is it loving?” — which Bishop Barron defined as “willing the good of others.” And finally, in terms of evangelization and especially on matters affecting the Church during a time of division: “What would an unevangelized person think of this?”

We think those are suggestions worth sharing, both in social media and in print.

A version of this editorial was published online June 15 by The Catholic Post, newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.

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