I love my church. I really do, and I think that’s pretty well documented as I’ve blogged over the years. But there are times when I do a mental cringe about some of the things Mormons do or say or are asked to do or say.
Today’s cringe-inducing bit? This article in the Deseret News, where Elder Bednar challenged Mormons to flood the earth with gospel messages. Here’s a relevant quote:
Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth — messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy — and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.
And I’m not here to nitpick with one of the twelve apostles. I think a whole bunch of authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy messages are a great goal. I’d like to think many of my blog posts could qualify for some of the adjectives.
No, my cringe isn’t from the request. It’s from what I tend to believe this request will result in: a sea of Mormon Memes flooding my Facebook page.
It’s already something that happens twice a year when General Conference rolls around. Lately, it’s like every card carrying Latter-day Saint starts machine gunning me with quotes from the conference, plastering them all over their FB walls in a nonstop glut of edification. And I have to wonder how that looks to a non-LDS person.
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive to this. I police my Facebook feed like a dictator. I have a limited amount of time, and if a friend starts posting too often or too much or consistently on a topic I don’t want to spend my time on? That friend gets unfollowed. (NOT unfriended, mind you. I still care about these people, and I want to maintain the friendship. Unfriending is the nuclear bomb approach to social media. It’s far too back stabby. Unfollowing lets you still check in on your friend whenever you’d like. Much nicer.)
I realize my inner fears might not be something many other Mormons think about or are worried about. That’s okay. I don’t see eye to eye with many a member. But to me, this all risks coming across as one big Care Bear Stare, and we all know how that ends, right?
Seriously. Am I the only one who feels for Dark Heart in that scene? Poor guy just wanted to evil it up a bit, and instead he got all care-ified.
But it wouldn’t be fair of me to just lob a general “Get off my virtual lawn” post in the direction of all these potential Mormon Memes. No–I’d rather give something back. Do something to try and avoid the hopefully evitable deluge of doctrine unleashed on an unsuspecting populace. So here you go, folks: Bryce’s guide to creating authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy posts.
- Less is more. Seriously. You don’t have to turn your social network feed into a firehose of faith to get the point across. You do that, and the only people who are going to be reading all those posts are other firehoses.
- If you’ve got something to say, make it count. Cutting and pasting a quote or sharing a meme just ain’t gonna cut it most times. At the very least, explain *why* you’re sharing it. What made that quote so important to you right then that made you feel like you had to shout it from the roof tops? A heartfelt post is easy to spot, and folks will give you a lot of leeway if they understand why you’re saying what you’re saying.
- Be yourself. There are a whole lot of suits in the LDS faith, but there’s a lot of original thoughts too. I don’t hide the fact that I’m Mormon at all, but I also try not to make it my defining characteristic online.
- Just because the church posts something, doesn’t mean you’re a bad member if you don’t “Like” it, share it, or otherwise promote it. I’m no fan of schmalz, and my religion’s movie department seems to like their schmalz a side order of schmalz and another couple of schmalz to go. So guess what? I rarely share those videos. That’s me, being authentic. If you love your schmalz, schmalz away.
- Support other praiseworthy things–not just LDS ones. We haven’t cornered the market on Good, last I checked. Spread the love some.
Maybe my fears are misplaced. Maybe this is all just going to go over smooth as chocolate milk. I’d love to be wrong. But if this is somehow manhandled into a church “doctrine” that everyone’s supposed to follow, then I don’t see it ending well.
Let me end this with a request to my non-Mormon friends out there (if you’re still reading). What do you think about all this? Do Mormons online have any sort of a rep yet for particular behaviors? What experiences have you had with this? How does it come across to a non-believer?
Inquiring minds want to know . . .