As much as I would like to have original content with that title, all the credit goes to Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB Blog. (They really ought to use self-hosted Blogger if they’re going to use Blogger at all.) Earlier today, they offered a list of ten rules for Catholics in social media. I’m glad to say that I generally follow them already.
I would say that rules 1 and 2 are the same. If you want to reach out to non-Catholics, you have to commit to reaching people where they are. One of the best moments I’ve had recently is when I demonstrated to a Catholic friend how to argue for the pro-life position without mentioning God at all. I might have even avoided the word “soul,” because the Catholic sense is not the secular sense. Even here on my own blog, I try to explain Catholic jargon. I do use it, though, because I love vocab so much. The only way we’ll ever get to use cool words like “eschatology” (death, judgement, and the afterlife) is if we use them!
I also appreciate the rules about having a thick skin and realizing that the rules change. If you can’t handle criticism, you can’t be social. Regarding the rules, timing and identity are everything. If you don’t comment on an issue (or reply) immediately, you may be considered to be intentionally avoiding it. If you comment too quickly, you seem like you’re “stalking” or waiting for a fight. If you blog, tweet, or own a domain name without your real name in it, your anonymity won’t last long, because the Internet chain of recognition is long and winding. Even online, you must be who you are and be that entirely.
In the spirit of rule 10, I will end here—but remember: no one likes a long comment. Short and sweet is best.