What kind of people would it be filled with? Would they be kind? In a previous blog post of mine, Dr. Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF, wrote a comment that resonated with me, “We are in a new day and age where we all need to be good Digital Citizens. We need to be clearer with one another that we need a kinder and gentler Digital World where we respect one another.” I couldn’t agree more.
I do believe it’s possible to avoid negativity (to a degree) on the Internet. By limiting exposure to negativity, I think our experience will be better, and in the end, we’ll all become kinder online. I know that if I see a post or “meme” that’s offensive or derogatory my first reaction is to want to reply, but what good does that do if my response is negative as well?
It may sound extremely obvious, but sometimes it’s just a matter of taking the time and setting things up right. With Lent coming up, now might be a good time to evaluate the kind of messaging we’re subjecting ourselves to. Here are a few quick ideas to do this:
1. Twitter – If you’re following a user on Twitter that keeps sending nonconstructive Tweets, just unfollow them. Easy. If a disgruntled tree who always complains falls in the woods… sort of thing.
2. Facebook – We probably all have some friends who post questionable or negative statuses, and we don’t want to necessarily unfriend them. But with a few quick steps you can hide their posts so you simply don’t have to see them. Go to their wall, hover over the “Friends” button, and click on Settings. From there you can uncheck certain types of posts you’d rather not have show up in your News Feed:
3. Phones and Tablets – One of the issues we face in society is our need for immediate information, answers, and communication. I can’t emphasize enough how many great Catholic apps are out there, so if you have a social media app on your home screen, I would suggest replacing it with a faith-based one. I’ve done this myself, and every time I’ve been bored and decide to pick up my phone to check out Facebook or Instagram, I think twice when I instead see the Laudate app. My time could be better spent there.
4. Un-Shorten URLs – There are a lot of shortened URLs out there. But if you’re ever suspicious of the source or where that shortened link might lead, there are websites that can reverse it first so you know it’s legit. A good one is: http://longurl.org
5. Think Before You
Speak Post – Finally, follow those simple rules that usually hang somewhere in an elementary school. (See picture above) Whenever you post something online, no matter your privacy settings, it’s never really “private.” So before you post or blog consider how you want your words to resonate (probably forever) online. As many of us are Catholic pioneers on the web, it’s up to us to set an example in the digital world. Once our friends and family see how we interact with others online, they may just follow our lead.