As we dive in, let’s lay a foundation of the two things we are comparing–digital evangelization vs. social media addiction. Can you explain what each one is and the difference between the two?
They aren’t polar opposites–there are differences but still quite a bit of overlap. “Everything can be used as a tool for the evangelization of souls.” -Maegan Nothing is created good or evil especially within social media, it’s not necessarily bad in and of itself. It’s the way that we use it and consume it that determines the outcome.
With our culture today, social media is a relevant part of our everyday lives. There are so many people in the church that are taking it upon themselves to be present on these platforms for the sake of truth, beauty, and goodness. They are using these platforms to share the gospel, to share the message of Jesus, and to share their own faith journey.
Social media addiction is more so the negative ways that social media can affect us. We’ve seen a rise in anxiety, depression, and this sense of isolation that social media can bring and can ensue. There is content that is not of the Lord, is evil, and that leads us into sin. It is very important to be aware of this when getting into social media especially if your purpose is digital evangelization.
How can we identify whether we are using social media healthily or if it is an addiction?
If we are all honest with ourselves, each of us has a level of addiction to our phones, to social media, etc. We have to admit to ourselves that there is a level of addiction within all of us that we have to battle against. Social media is where we get our news, it’s where we connect with our friends, it’s how we stay in contact with family, it’s a source of fun, etc.
I think that the tills of it becoming an addiction are subtle at first and then very clear later on. “One thing that I noticed within myself is isolation that starts to happen. I’ll notice that when I become more and more addicted to social media or when I’m in those seasons of feeling particularly addict to social media is when I’ll get a phone call or invitation to go somewhere with a friend and I avoid that invitation. When I ignore that phone call when I decide to continue scrolling rather than engaging in relationship, I think that's a small sign, that addiction might be something that you're playing with.” -Maegan
When we put social media as an idol ahead of the Lord and spend time on Instagram, but at the end of the day we don’t have time to pray; that is a sign of addiction. Anything above the Lord is not good. Majority of phones have screen time apps to tell you how long you are on social media apps during the day. The Lord doesn't call us to feel shame, but to just be aware, so that we can set healthy boundaries for ourselves.
How have you used social media for digital evangelization while also respecting your personal boundaries?
“I’ve tried, tried again, and failed. I’m not perfect by any means. One of the boundaries that I had to set for myself is that it’s never more important than my peace. There are all these expectations of Instagram–the algorithm, the “methods”, the reels, etc. Something I’ve had to come to terms with as a creator is that, at the end of the day, it’s not more important than my peace. It’s not more important than my relationship with the Lord. It’s not more important with my friends & relationships” -Maegan.
What are some practical tips for someone to take to prevent social media addiction?
Being proactive with setting limits for yourself. Bring this conversation to the Lord and just be honest and vulnerable with. Where are your hangups? Where are you spending too much time? If you are spending the majority of your time on social media, it’s less time for you to encounter the Lord, that’s less time for you to encounter people.
Be honest with yourself and the Lord about those boundaries you need to set for yourself. “Every six months, I take a look at the people that I’m following, the accounts I’m interacting with, etc. and do a cleanup and unfollow accounts that are not doing anything for me or leading me into sin.” -Maegan.
Bring these things to a trustworthy friend for accountability. Having this conversation is really important but we can get very defensive about it. We don’t like to share passcodes for things with our friends. But entrusting the boundaries you want to set for yourself to a friend and be open to feedback/accountability from them. When we do these things in community, there’s just so much more to delight in together.
What is one piece of advice that you want every young Catholic woman to know?
“I remember the first time I encountered someone talking specifically about digital evangelization that really stirred my heart. My friend Sarah was giving a talk on digital evangelization and specifically within FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). She said, ‘Someone might not come into an encounter with the Lord through social media. They might not encounter God on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. but they could encounter you and you could lead them to an encounter with the Lord.’ It really transformed the way that I looked at social media and my usage of it.” -Maegan.