One of the great pleasures of working with the Word on Fire Team is the opportunity to contribute, as both writer and editor, to the Word on Fire Institute’s quarterly journal, Evangelization and Culture, a beautifully wrought printed journal overseen by the remarkable Tod Worner and WoF’s extremely talented graphics team. Each issue concentrates on a particularly theme: Our first issue was all about creativity and the Christian imagination. The second focused on the poor and Catholic social justice teachings. Issue #3, which came out last week, is all about digital media and how it impacts our lives and our spirits, for better or worse.
My contribution to the issue took a look at all the ways we can endanger ourselves spiritually — or just make stupid mistakes that end up costing us a lot — and how we might mindfully protect both our souls and our reputations while on social media. An excerpt:
As I watched my beloved Twitter slowly morph from cyber-pub to digital brawling ring, I decided that if the scuffles were going to become bad-natured and destructive to people, I wouldn’t participate. Announcing (probably a bit smugly) that I wanted “to love, again.” I determined that one way to do so would be to stop labeling people, to stop identifying people as “types” and “theys” and “thems” on social media, a bad habit which I’d come to see as a precursor to throwing them away altogether.
Essentially, it meant simply pulling back and thinking a bit before posting – remembering the humanity of the person on the other side of the screen and then responding to them like an adult Christian. It wasn’t as fun as playing mutual whack-a-mole with others on the platform, but I believed it kept my soul safe, and injured no one else’s.
Over time I began to feel very comfortable operating like that, and perhaps a little prideful. Look at how good I was at not being bad!
Pride came before the fall, but you all knew that.
Anyway, Word on Fire Institute Director Jared Zimmerer and I had a chance to chat about that piece and I thought I’d share a link to our discussion: How to Tweet Without Losing Your Soul.
We had fun doing it and even my husband — who quite rightly has had just about enough of me during our (long story) extended quarantine — still found it interesting and amusing. I really need to learn how to stop running my hand through my hair…