Me and my avatar :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Me and my avatar

Julie Filby

Moms are online full-force: every day we’re checking RSS feeds, commenting, updating the family iGoogle calendar and posting cute photos of our kids on Facebook.

With all this activity on the World Wide Web, have you ever felt a disconnect between your real self and your online self? Sometimes our so-called avatars, or online selves, can be a little smarter, more attractive or even a bit holier than our real selves.

Several months ago, a blog post “How ‘Catholic’ should you be online?” caught my attention. Here self-described Catholic social media nerd and columnist for the National Catholic Register Matthew Warner led with the question: “Can you be too Catholic?”

Hmmm…I suppose you can be too anything. I’ve had moments of feeling too Catholic, but probably more often I’ve felt not-Catholic-enough.

He goes on to suggest that the real question is: “How do we share our faith genuinely and effectively online?” As a reporter for a Catholic newspaper, mom blogger and Facebook friend of 250 or so, I’ve asked the same question, along with a few others: Does that sound like me? Too preachy? Too simple? Too complicated? Too religious? Not religious enough? Will this generate a virtual eye-roll from the reader?

Here are some insights from Warner’s post that I found helpful:

“Our Church may have all the answers, but, as individuals, we certainly do not. Don’t pretend to. We are scared that if we admit our weakness that we are somehow admitting a weakness in our Church. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The humility that comes with being 100% Catholic is one of the most powerful ways to share your faith.”

As well as:

“Don’t use your online platform (be it large or small) as only a megaphone (you’ll soon find nobody listening). Use it to listen, share and to build genuine relationships.”

Last January in his message for World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI – who you can follow on Facebook, by the way – echoed a theme of authentic community when he encouraged Christians to use the Internet to evangelize and develop relationships. Of course he addressed the associated risks as well: Greater involvement in the public digital forum “…inevitably poses questions not only of how to act properly, but also about the authenticity of one’s own being.”

“To proclaim the Gospel through new media means not only to insert expressly religious content…but also to witness consistently…a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it.” – Pope Benedict XVI 1.24.2011 (click here for full text).

Got it. Stay plugged in, communicate humbly from the heart, pray for guidance before hitting “publish” on WordPress (or other online sharing), listen generously, and make sure my online self and real self remain one-and-the-same.

Even with the varying levels of smart, attractive and holy that might go along with it.

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS: Do you share your faith through Facebook or a blog? Eagerly, hesitantly or somewhere in-between? 

Topics: Faith

Julie Filby, wife and mother of two (ages 8 and 5), is a reporter for the Denver Catholic Register newspaper. She also enjoys blogging at Mother’s Musings about the simple ways Christ is unmistakably present in every-day family and work life. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. She also contributes to and Catholic Lane.

View all articles by Julie Filby

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