Our writers invite you along on their journeys through Lent. Follow the play-by-play of their personal spiritual practices and share your own.
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BARBARA — DAY 27: Social Media in the Mail
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days
Social media pervades our everyday lives. It interrupts us with alerts on our phones or laptops. It brings us the latest news, updates from family, and topics of conversation — think YouTube videos and Grumpy Cat memes — with our friends.
Part of the reason for doing this particular Lenten challenge (writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days) was because I think it’s important to keep and further develop personal connections in ways that don’t involve instant messaging and emojis.
But the other day these two worlds — the tradition of Lent and social media — collided.
Now, I guess you could say that basically every day of my life the more traditional ideas and practices of faith and spirituality intersect with digital media because I work in the fields of digital media and, well, faith. However, I try to have some balance in my life. I don’t want to give my whole self over to social media or online everything. One way I fight against so much screen time is with magazines — the kind that come in the mail. Another: I don’t play many games on my mobile phone. And that would actually be no games during Lent because I’ve given up Candy Crush. Basically, I stare at a computer screen all day (and I’m staring at one now as I type this!). I don’t want to stare at one all of the time I’m not at work.
So, the other day I’m thinking, Who will I write to today? I check Facebook. Someone had a baby. How wonderful. Someone’s mom died. How sad. I type a quick “Congrats” and “Condolences” and move on to the next food pic and Buzzfeed quiz in my newsfeed.
A few more scrolls down the page, and it hits me. Why don’t I send a card to the new baby, a note of sympathy to the friend whose mom passed away?
Some of you may be thinking — You haven’t been using your Facebook birthday reminders to fill in some of those 40 days? Actually, I haven’t. (Although, I will now!)
This instance reminded me of something I usually say to explain or even defend the use of social media as part of ministry: Social media can be used in part as a tool to connect with people offline. In that way, people meet up in-person for coffee or a movie, or even, say, start revolutions (actual revolutions, people!).
I challenge you today — or for the rest of the week — to pay attention to those moments when you might make the digital more tangible. You see a friend has a new job? Give him/her a call of congrats. Someone’s birthday? Send a card. You notice someone posting great food pics on Instagram? Invite them over for dinner — oh, and ask them to bring dessert.