In challenging times, where do you go for comfort and support? Many people turn to social media to both give and receive encouragement during the ups and downs of life. A death in the family, an illness, a fractured relationship.
These are all experiences that leave us yearning for a chance to connect with others for support. There are certainly many sources for the encouragement we seek. Some turn to God’s word, time with friends, creative outlets, nature, music, prayer, worship or exercise.
Social media can also provide care and a space for personal expression during the challenging seasons of life.
Social media provides tools that allow an individual to reach out. Many online tools also provide ways for people to extend support to someone facing hard times.
Facebook and text messages are definitely not the only ways people can connect about life’s weighty matters. There should always be a special place for direct, personal contact. That being said, these options aren’t mutually exclusive.
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We can simultaneously honor the value of posting to someone’s Facebook wall and the value of conversing together face-to-face and heart-to-heart. The more we can encourage one another to use a range of support tools in healthy ways, the better.
With the guidance of prayer and good judgment, we are offered the opportunity to utilize social media in meaningful ways.
Online communication platforms have great potential. They can strengthen human connections, provide support to those in need and encourage emotional expression. May we use the tools we have been given in thoughtful, life-giving ways.
Prayer: Creator of Comfort, throughout history you have entered into our lives in a multitude of ways. Guide us as we seek to shape a world that uses the technology around us in thoughtful ways. In situations where social media will bring comfort, hope, and compassion, please lead us to use it wisely. Amen.
ELCA Pastor Emily Carson is the director of communications for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod.
This blog was adapted from Social Media in Times of Grief, which first ran in Café in March 2014.