The use of social media is a tremendous gift, but it also can have a darker side to it. Each day as we scroll through the news-feeds of the various platforms we use daily, we are inundated with news from around the world. This news makes the world seem smaller and at times the onslaught of bad news can become overwhelming. This is especially true on the Catholic front. We know that the world is a fallen place where human beings are capable of unspeakable evil and that it is only through Christ and His Church that we can be fully free. We also know that persecution and suffering is a way of sanctification and the process of our conformation to the Blessed Trinity on this side of eternity. That being said, there are moments when all of the bad news can become overwhelming and our own outrage at the harshness of the world can be exhausting. In loving others and desiring their good, we can become the target of vicious attacks because we are rejected or misunderstood.
The media of the West has become absurd and is merely a tool of the political powers in charge. This has become quite evident through the media “blackout” of the five undercover Planned Parenthood videos that further reveal the depravity of the abortion industry. While most of us are not surprised by the callousness and greedy aspects of the abortion industry because we understand human nature, we still are outraged by the harvesting and selling of murdered baby parts. What is even more frustrating is the apathy of our political leaders and the prevailing culture. What should we do when our outrage and struggle with the evil of the world has become too much?
You will notice throughout Scripture that Our Lord goes to silent places to pray on His own. His mission was taxing, as he healed, taught, fed, and tried to re-unite the lost sheep of Israel. If Our Lord had to pray, then we absolutely need to pray daily. St. Paul tells us “to pray without ceasing”. While prayer should be a regular part of the Christian life, it should be a response to those moments of outrage and frustration. We must go to somewhere quiet and take rest in the Lord. If we are at work or not at home, pull up Scripture and read from one of the Gospels or the Psalms. We must soak in the Word of God and let it seep deep into our bones. We must take heart and pray for our sinful suffering world. This is one of the best ways to deal with social media overload. The Jesus prayer is one powerful and immediately humbling offering that’s short and easy to remember: “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Go to Daily Mass
There is nothing more important for a Catholic than Mass. It is the single most important thing that we do and it is where we are given the spiritual food that we need to make this arduous journey. Look up Mass times and try to go to Mass on a lunch break or take the kids with you. As the mother of a 4 year old, I know that can be quite a task, but our sacrifice will be rewarded.
Visit the Lord in the Tabernacle
Can’t make it to Mass? Catholic churches are open throughout the day. Take 10 minutes and go to your nearest church to pray before Our Lord in the Tabernacle. He waits for you and me in the deep silence and praying before, and with Him, has a powerful effect on our day and our disposition.
Fast from Social Media
It is important for us to step back every now and then. Most of us use computers throughout the day for work, family, and other projects. Fasting from social media and offering it up for others is a great way to offer spiritual sacrifice. There is much in the world that needs our sacrifice through fasting. You can offer it up for sick loved ones, the persecuted, an end to abortion, attacks on the family, the conversion of souls, the hungry and poor, the possibilities are just about endless. Fridays, the day Our Lord died for us, would be a good day to fast.
Take a Full Break from Social Media
It is good for us to take a break from social media, whether it is a week, a month, or a year. Sometimes we need to step back from the train-wreck that is the news and re-charge without the distractions. In taking a break, we can think clearer, concentrate more, and put things into perspective. If you are becoming overwhelmed by the news, examine how you feel while using it and how you are responding in social media. If it is not a good in your life then seriously consider taking a break.
Go for a Walk
Part of being Catholic is knowing that God reveals Himself to us in nature. It is important for us to spend time contemplating His glorious creation. Going for a walk allows us to relax and take in our surroundings. If you live in a city and are surrounded by concrete, find a park to walk around. During the walk pray a Rosary, offer thanksgiving to God for the good and the hard things in your life. Allow yourself to step into the wonder of the created universe. Children are a great teacher in the art of appreciating the simple things. Perhaps take some pointers from your own children as to how to wonder at God.
Know Your Limitations
Many of my friends in social media enjoy debating the issues of our day. I too enjoy a lively discussion or debate. Unfortunately, a lot of discussion in social media has become a forum for ranting, raving, and attacking other people. It is important for each one of us to recognize when we have reached our limit in a discussion and to walk away when that time comes. It is not our job to police the Internet and we cannot allow it to become an occasion of sin. There are times we just need to walk away.
Remember these suggestions when the news gets to be overwhelming. It’s okay to take a break and step away from the computer and phone. In fact, it is essential for the spiritual life. Remember to walk in communion with God through prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments. It’s necessary to walk away even if someone is wrong on the Internet.