It was a year ago Tuesday that I went on Twitter, finally embracing social media in all its irritations and delights. Though I’ve had a Facebook account for many years, because I rarely looked at it, and even more rarely commented or posted anything prior to last year, I did not consider myself a user of social media. What a difference a day and change of attitude makes.
As I look back I find it amusing that something I had been quite disinterested in, had negative notions about, and came to rather unwillingly, I now enjoy. And for all its virtual reality-ness I would have not guessed how much it would open up and expand my real world experiences. Being enamored of something I had been so carefully avoiding is not what I thought I’d be saying a year later, but that is the new reality.
When I went on Twitter last year the motivation was merely an acquiescence to a friend’s suggestion that social media could possibly be a helpful avenue with something I was focusing on at the time. While it turned out that social media didn’t help with the initial inspiration for joining Twitter, I quickly came to see how it could be used for things I do at school and I began posting tweets for school. Once established I could see my artsy side had kicked in and I realized how much I was enjoying being on the lookout for pictures to accompany the text.
I say all this not to convince anyone who isn’t already using social media to begin—as much as I’ve tried my enthusiasm has not rubbed off on a couple of my friends who are of the same opinion as I was a year ago—but to draw attention to the God side of all this. It’s easy enough to point out how folks get caught up in superficial aspects of social media such as being overly concerned about how many online friends or followers they have, how many likes, retweets or comments they are amassing and forget that God is friending and following us also. And when God follows us he helps us to look up from our little screens, stop tapping, and take what we have discovered and engage with the real world if we but realize this is where he wants us to ultimately be.
This engaging more in the real world via a connection with the virtual world is what has kept me enjoying and finding it useful to be on social media. As I look back I’m delightfully amazed at all the new discoveries and real world interacting that has resulted from what I’ve seen on my Twitter, and more recently Instagram, feed (I still don’t use Facebook much) that I quite likely may not have had otherwise. A couple examples are baseball and baking, both of which grabbed my attention more online than they had pre-online.
Having a slight touch of baseball fever (now gone into overdrive as the playoffs begin tonight) when I went on Twitter last year the first thing I started following was the Dodgers, outranking even Pope Francis who I followed next. Being up to date again on players, scores and the like has given me a common ground when talking with the youth that has lead to some good conversations as well as a desire to work more with our teens. And this summer my mum and I spent many enjoyable hours keeping up on the Dodgers via Twitter and it became our habit that any win wasn’t final until I showed her the “Dodgers Win!” tweet—I’ve done this a couple times with the 4th graders as well. It’s been nice to share this time with my mum as well as through texts to my friend up north.
God has been very near to me as I’ve Twittered away this past year. Virtual reality helped me discover and touch reality in a deeper way. In looking for things to tweet I finally inquired about the local cold weather shelter for the homeless that my parish helps cover. This led to me helping cover a number of Friday evening shifts this past winter. This in turn led me to the Saturday morning showers for the homeless, and Youth Hope, which led me to baking goodies for them on a regular basis. And this in turn has led me to be part of the Social Concerns Committee at my parish. This all has helped me appreciate what Pope Francis said about Jesus wanting witnesses, wanting us to love and serve our neighbor first over being able to recite memorized formulas.
There’s more I could say, from discovering the artisinal bread shop in Calimesa on Instagram to looking forward each day to being spiritually nourished by Archbishop Gomez’s tweets, but I hope these two examples have shown that while we do need to put our phones down, there are also times when it is good to take up our phones for the gifts our Lord can bring us online, for God is everywhere and in all things.
The link here is to The Pope Video that I came across on Twitter over the summer. Here each month you will find Pope Francis' monthly prayer intention done as a one minute artistic video. Just one of many good and interesting things I've found since being on Twitter. https://thepopevideo.org/
6 Oct 2017