Five Ways to Use Facebook as a Force for Good

Facebook has been in the news a lot the past couple of weeks. While much of that news concerns the terms of service, in Catholic circles the debate has been about giving Facebook up for Lent. The push behind that movement is that, for many people, Facebook has become an addiction. They have been neglecting the real-life people in their lives in order to spend much of their time interacting with their on-line friends. Obviously, this is a problem. Nevertheless, Facebook , in and of itself, is moral-neutral. Like the Internet itself, and television before it, it can be used as a force for good or evil. So, then, how can Facebook be a tool for good?

First, it is a wonderful tool for connecting with old friends. Most Facebook users speak of the thrill of finding people one has long lost track of. It is fascinating to discover where people’s lives have taken them. While requesting “friends” can be somewhat like reliving high school — wondering whether someone will accept your offer of friendship and feeling rejection if they don’t — getting the opportunity to talk with people who you were actually friends with twenty (or more) years ago is great. Don’t neglect your current relationships, but who among us can’t use a few more friends in our social spheres?

Second, it can be used as a networking tool. In the current difficult economic times, reaching out to others within one’s industry is all the more important. Facebook can assist with learning more about one’s profession and making connections with others struggling and succeeding in the same field. Within community groups, it can be a quick way to communicate with large numbers of people effectively and easily.

Third, it can be used as a tool for support and encouragement. If someone is having a bad day and he or she posts a status statement to that effect, one can reach out and offer a word or two of encouragement. It can make all the difference in a person’s day.

Fourth, it can be used to help spread the Good News. From promoting the pro-life cause to posting links to insightful spiritual articles or podcasts, Facebook can be used as a low-key evangelization tool. One can bear quiet witness to one’s faith, inviting others to take part. People have the right to ignore the posts, of course, but the invitation is there.

Fifth, one can support and bring attention to one’s favorite charities. Many charities have fan pages and cause pages. One can invite others to support the same causes and help raise awareness of the many people and organizations working to make our world a better place.

The Facebook phenomenon will not last forever. While it lasts, however, it can also be a tremendous force for good in our world. Use it responsibly. Use it wisely. Use it well.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

By

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur writes from western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two sons. A Senior Editor with Catholic Lane.com, she blogs at http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com

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  • Claire

    Well said! I joined FB a few months ago, and love it. It makes it so much easier to keep in touch with people than regular email. And every time I join a pro-life FB group, it is posted right on my wall to be a witness to my many pro-Obama FB friends.

  • shariL

    Claire,
    What a coincidence we’re both on FB! I’ve often noticed your replies to articles that I’ve read as well and remember seeing your name when I first discovered CE a few years ago during Lent. If you’d like to become friends in FB, just search for me- Shari Lasher in the Louisville, KY network. God Bless!

  • Samwise

    I do not yet belong to “facebook” … I have heard positive and negative things about Facebook but I was wondering if there is a way I can use Facebook to get out the pro life message to all…I am doing this on other sites…anyone know if Facebook would be a good way to do this? Thanks, God bless…Sam

  • dennisofraleigh

    Samwise: If you join Facebook you will have more pro-life company than you can shake a stick at!
    I joined Facebook less than a month ago and already I’m networked with many people locally I had no idea were on Facebook, plus a lot of high profile national pro-lifer’s have Facebook pages (Fr. Frank Pavone, Deirdre McQuaide, Joe Scheidler, and others too numerous to mention, and that includes Catholic bishops and priests!). Many pro-life organizations have Facebook pages also (National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, What The FOCA?, and others).
    Once you create your Facebook page there is a search function in the upper right hand corner. Type in the hyphenated word “pro-life” and you’ll find lots of people locally who are pro-life and on Facebook. Once you do that you can decide which ones you want to send “friend” requests to. Don’t feel too badly that each person you send one to doesn’t reply in the affirmative. Some people are very choosey about who their Facebook “friends” are—pro-life sentiments notwithstanding.
    Many of these newfound friends will themselves be “friends” of national or local pro-life organizations (not all of them Catholic).
    But your question dealt with getting the pro-life message out to others. Once you feel comfortable with Facebook and understand its potential and limitations you can begin evangelizing many who you might not have been able to reach otherwise. Remember, we share the Truth in a spirit of Love (I Pet. 3:16).

  • dennisofraleigh

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! How could I forget to mention the most important person in the world with a Facebook page: our Holy Father himself, Pope Benedict XVI And you, too, can be one of his Facebook Friends (and join one of his 3 Facebook fan clubs while you’re at it).

  • WitnessToHope

    I would echo what everyone has written. The opportunities to promote the sacredness of life are tremendous! And like Claire I like joining pro-life groups because of the visibility it gives to my friends who are pro-abortion. It’s also great how those in the pro-life movement are embracing technology because it’s a way to reach the youth!

    Besides Pope Benedict XVI, might I recommend becoming a fan of St. Thomas Aquinas? :-)

  • Claire

    Thanks Shari, I’ll look for you!

  • esmith818

    As a HS youth volunteer, I have used Facebook to keep in touch with the teens as part of a vibrant, relational ministry. A positive side effect is that I am able to act like a conscience to my “friends” when they join questionable groups or post inappropriate status updates. The accountability factor makes a difference when I can’t be there in person to keep them growing in holiness. :)

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