“I saw it on Faithbook.” This overheard line, spoken by a Primary child missing a couple of teeth, made me smile. It also flipped my feelings about social media inside out.
I was one of the resistant ones. The whole world, it seemed, had joined Facebook and I was still unconvinced that I needed yet another way to communicate with my friends. I could see its advantages for people who want to view pictures of their grandkids, but I am not yet in that group (add emphasis to those last five words if you’re one of my kids. Ahem.)
But then a techie girlfriend of mine talked me into it. “You can always quit,” she said. “Just try it.” Setting aside the similarity to lines used by the adversary, I signed up.
Immediately I was appalled at the graphic emergency room tales with not-for-the-squeamish photos people were posting of their children’s playground lacerations and tales of stomach upset. I was puzzled by those who felt compelled to share every thought that popped into their heads. I saw whining. I saw anger. I heard of people who spent hours on Facebook and wondered what had happened to their relationships.
And then I heard the slip, “Faithbook,” and realized there was immense power for good on Facebook as well. Yes, there are unpleasant posts you have to wade through, just as in life there are moments that make us frown. But this odd connection with friends and family has the potential to lift, enlighten, and be “virtuous, lovely, and of good report.”
Today I went through the posts to gather a random sampling of material on there, and this is what I found: Yes, a small percentage of the posts were in the eww category, I’d say about five percent. But there was also an avalanche of love-pictures of families sharing milestones: Births, mission calls, marriages, new babies, loving goodbyes of the elderly. It made me feel connected in a way I wouldn’t if I had simply heard the news verbally. It reminded me of the colossal importance of family.
There were warnings about identity theft, scams, and health dangers-practical advice that can help us all live more safely.
Some of the posts were pictures from nature, stunning reminders of God’s handiwork in this beautiful world of ours. Some were recipes, and pretty enticing ones at that. Some entries were funny, a good reminder that humor has a vital place in our lives. There were also clever ideas for daily living, raising children, and showing love.
Some of my Facebook friends were reaching out for hugs and support through trying times and it warmed my heart to read comments of encouragement. What a great reminder that we are all our brother’s keeper, and have much wisdom to share, learned from our own sorrows.
Still others were soliciting support for good causes, their passion and fury over injustice a stark reminder that this is not a world of bluebirds and rainbows only; we must fight for right and contribute to humanitarian causes larger than ourselves.
Some were beautiful videos that brought tears to my eyes as I realized people the world over are basically good, and willing to extend Christ-like charity to one another. I felt motivated to up my game and forget about myself.
And then there were spiritual quotes and messages of inspiration from our Prophet and Apostles, and from holy writ. It formed the perfect lens through which to view everything else. I could see why our church leaders have urged us to share our testimonies and educate the public about the restored gospel, using social media. I could see why missionaries were posting beautiful messages inviting all to come unto Christ. Suddenly I realized it really can be Faithbook, depending how you view it, and how you use it.
Does it have the potential to take over and become addictive, to celebrate the mundane, to distort our values? Of course. Like television, literature, and any art, it can be misused by Satan. But if we guard against that influence and use it to build the kingdom, there is a marvelous opportunity here to share what we know, and help others remember. What a wonderful message we have, and what a glorious opportunity we can take.
You can find Hilton’s books at jonihilton.com.
She is also “Your YouTube Mom” and shares short videos that teach easy household tips and life skills.
Be sure to read her blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.