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 | Staff Report

Communications Office will Again Fast from Social Media Each Friday During Lent

February 22, 2023 | During the Lenten Season when we are called to walk alongside Jesus Christ in the desert and focus on our relationship with the Lord, digital and social media can sometimes be an obstacle.

That’s why the Communications Office of the Diocese of St. Petersburg is once again refraining from social media activity each Friday during Lent. This means there will be no updates, posts, or messages shared on the diocesan Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. All are invited to fast from social media on Fridays as well.

In July of 2022, Pope Francis said, “The use of digital media, especially social media, has raised a number of serious ethical issues that call for wise and discerning judgment on the part of communicators and all those concerned with the authenticity and quality of human relationships.” He spoke these words during a conference for SIGNIS, which is the World Catholic Association for Communication. The organization’s mission is to “help transform cultures in the light of the Gospel by promoting human dignity, justice and reconciliation.” 

The powerful attraction of social media can ironically keep people isolated. It can also alter the brain in a way that science has not fully researched.

“Social media and the internet operate in a way where there are powerful algorithms that are designed to keep us online and connected on platforms. There are teams of psychological and behavioral experts working for technology companies developing strategies to keep each of us using their product. In fact, in computer lingo, we are the user. The other industry that speaks of a customer as a user is the drug industry,” said Teresa Peterson, Executive Director of Communications, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

There are many alternatives to digital media, social media and streaming services that could build up families, communities and churches, such as praying the Stations of the Cross and taking part in charitable projects. Striking conversations with those of different generations than your own and listening to their history and faith walk would be an ideal way to spend time away from media.

“These stories take time to tell, and we should be prepared to listen patiently and let them sink in, even though they are much longer than what we are used to in social media. We have to realize that the wisdom needed for life bursts the confines of our present-day media resources,” wrote Pope Francis in his letter to young people, Christus Vivit.