Why are Catholic Women "Mean Girls" on Social Media?

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"Why are Catholic Women Mean Girls on Social Media?" by Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS (CatholicMom.com)

Photo credit: By Molly Belle (2016), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD

I won’t name names because it doesn’t matter.

On any other day, it could have been someone else.

Or you.

Or me.

But that particular day, it was a high-profile Catholic with a follower count to match and a big social-media footprint who got the whole thing started.

User 1 mocked someone — a stranger — who was in no position to defend herself, and several hundred more users piled on with likes and comments, maybe hoping for a coveted sign of approval from User 1, such as a like, a retweet, or maybe (gasp!) even a personal response.

That’s how these pile-ons get started, after all. One person tosses out a tweet and we all jump into the fray.

Why do we do this? Why are we taking a page from “Mean Girls” in our use of social media?

Is this how Catholic women support each other?

We jump in. We pile on. Maybe we even make that statement that starts it all. We do this out of our own desire to be heard. To be seen. To be acknowledged.

Can’t we find ways to be seen by modeling kindness?

Can’t our voices be heard more clearly when we offer a positive word? A compliment? A cheerful greeting? A joke that isn’t at someone else’s expense?

I’m not saying there’s never any room to be snarky, but I am saying you need to be careful about your target. That target is a person too.

Probably at first, kindness won’t get you too far in growing your follower count. But if you get (or keep) followers because you tweet mean stuff, you need to re-evaluate your social-media strategy.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. (Luke 12:48)

Use the power of your platform for good. Please.

Otherwise, you scandalize the rest of us — at best — and hurt others.

And if you’re going to use the power of your platform to exclude those who don’t fit in with the rest of your tribe, then that’s a tribe I wouldn’t want to join.

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Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

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About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, managing editor for Today's Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at CatholicMom.com. Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.

6 Comments

  1. Edward Hoyt on

    Bravo, Barb. I salute you coming and going.

    Let’s be accountable. Let’s be kind, Catholics, and let’s be accountable.

  2. Very well said. Given the charged atmosphere these days, it is sometimes a hard call between defending our faith and morals and simply going after someone. You made many good points.

  3. So true, Barb! Thank you for calling this out! I often find myself so frustrated and discouraged when I encounter such irresponsible behaviors online from Catholics. We are called to “stand above” the cultural influences that set counterexamples of the Catholic faith. We need to pray for all of those involved this way. May God keep each of us on the “straight and narrow” so that we can be His true and faithful witnesses.

  4. Thank you for this fantastic reminder, Barb! It makes me so sad to see all of the Catholics who attack each other online-though that’s also a good reality-check for me as I realize how often I (unfortunately) do similar things offline. I love what you say about “the target is a person too”-absolutely. This is such an obvious reality, but one that I think I can so easily forget.

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