Please don’t give up social media for Lent

With Ash Wednesday just around the corner, I see conversations online about giving up social media for Lent. You may have seen this great article on the topic in The Catholic Review.

There are compelling reasons to make that part of your Lenten sacrifice. And maybe that’s what God is calling you to this year. But I am asking you to consider that He might be asking you to stay on social media during Lent. This might, in fact, be the worst time of year to step away.

During Lent, people are spiritually hungry. We are in the desert, and it can be a lonely and dark time—this time of repentance, this season with no alleluias. By remaining active on social media—or even approaching it more intentionally—you have the opportunity to help others see and connect with Christ in a new way.

What if this were the Lent where you asked God to help you truly be an instrument of his love and light on social media? What if before you posted, you asked yourself, “What joy can I convey to others today? How can I help them see the beauty in God’s creation? How can I bring Jesus to them? How can my words fill them with the Holy Spirit?” Then post and let His light shine through you.

There is so much negative conversation on social media. In this year, with an election approaching, I feel the darkness of conflict and hopelessness encroaching on the conversations there. I find myself stepping away from and out of interactions that are not healthy for me—and not where I am feeling called to be.

But I feel strongly that each of us is not meant to hide our light under a bushel. We are meant to shine, to help others find the road to truth, to hope, to peace.

Maybe that looks like cat videos or dog photos or smiling baby pictures. Maybe that looks like sunsets with reflections on your day. Maybe it’s  you showing up with your own grief or sorrow, letting others surround you with their love and comfort. I don’t know what your light looks like when you let it shine fully. But God does. And He loves you deeply. He may be calling you to be present to others in your comments and connections and sharing online.

Social media might not be your home. Maybe you’re better off stepping away for Lent. But I invite you to consider that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels are where many, many people are encountering others and experiencing spiritual growth. Walking away from it could be just what you need. Or embracing it more fully or with set personal boundaries and guidelines might be your perfect Lenten opportunity.

You could start following some new writers and leaders who inspire you and enrich your Lenten journey. You might start sharing their inspiration with your friends—whether publicly or through private messages. You could post asking people how you can pray for them.

Social media is a powerful tool. Together, during Lent and throughout the year, we can make it a more welcoming, positive community. Your presence, your voice, and your perspective can help shape this space, bringing love and peace to others. Hope to see you there as we journey toward Easter together.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.