With the exception of the hermits, almost everyone has some form of social media in the recent days. Be it, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and other social media are all wonderful ways to connect with friends and family, also make new friends, and learn from one another. They are also wonderful ways to spread the Gospel to many people all over the world.
But most times, social media does not have a positive impact on our lives. If we in anyway allow social media to control us, it can negatively impact us spiritually and emotionally. In that case, it is really important to guard our hearts as we thoughtfully and carefully participate online.
Here are some guidelines to help you enjoy social media but also to find greater balance and peace in your online life:
Avoid following angry people:
Avoid filling your head with posts and comments from people who attack and abuse others, are consistently pessimistic, provoking, angry, or divisive, or whose views often lack compassion, nuance, or thoughtfulness. You don’t need people as such in your online life, or even on your real life for that matter.
Find out inspiring, holy people and follow them:
Try to follow people whose posts regularly reveal the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. Ensure also in your own posting to ask for the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and guidance.
Ensure you Log off when necessary:
When you feel your heart rate go up log off. And consider to unfollow the people whose posts consistently cause you to feel desolation, anger, hopelessness, or unnecessary anxiety.
Reply with caution
Before you reply someone who is annoying you, take at least a moment or better an hour or a day before responding. If you feel you have to reply immediately, get up and walk around, slowly breathe in and breathe out 10 times, and ask the Holy Spirit to inspire what you will reply.
Avoid beating up yourself
We all can be annoying most times. When you reply someone with unnecessary anger, ask for apology, go to confession, and do what you need to do to make it right. But then don’t always think back to the scenario and play it over in your head. That can’t help you at all. Take a few days off from social media and when you come back, avoid people and sites that are a temptation to sin.
Take some time off:
Try to schedule in extended breaks from social media. Not just a few days or a weekend, but stay off for over a week at least once a year. Also, try to take mini-breaks during the day. Have some time off every day, whether it is in the early morning or right before bed. Try to make an effort to stick to these times and you will see it help with your peace, creativity, and real life relationships. Sometimes it’s just best to ignore, block, or mute without trying to guess what’s going on.
Control time spent online:
Several studies point to the addictive qualities of social media. In that case, we can’t always trust our self-discipline to help us to log off. Some Apps like Stay Focused , Freedom, and others can not only track time spent online but prevent us from logging on after our time is up. These apps are good ones if you notice addictive behavior in your social media use.
Have trust in your gut:
If you get a strange message, friend request, or comment from someone online, trust your initial instinct. When you get a feeling that you should not reply don’t. You don’t have it as an obligation to interact with every person online who wants to interact with you. Your best friend online is silence. Say a prayer for the person and just move on.
Holiness is the key:
Ask God to inspire you on what to post and use social media in a way that will help you to become holier. Before you post anything, ask yourself, “Is this who God wants me to be? Is this how God wants me to act?” If it doesn’t, delete and go on with your day.
Social media is indeed a gift from God but we must try to use it only in a way that is good for us emotionally and spiritually and that will lead us towards holiness.
Pope Francis once said, “Social networks can be fully human forms of communication. It is not technology that determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal”.
Let us put one another in prayer and encourage a wise and healthy social media and use it with our own good example.