#ShareGoodness (and cheesy puns)

25 Aug

“Follow the prophet!” It’s a chorus you’ll often hear sung by kids in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now, several senior Church leaders–Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder M. Russell Ballard–are officially on Twitter. Folks, it’s never been easier to follow the prophets! (HAHAHAHA!)

Yes, I’m sure I am the first person to come up with that clever line. I’m sorry for putting you through that. (If you appreciated it, skip down to Very Important Note #2 at the end.)

I did make this graphic myself. For the record, the proper prophetic Twitter handle is @MonsonThomasS.

I did make this graphic myself. For the record, the proper prophetic Twitter handle is @MonsonThomasS.

This Sunday Dave and I were assigned to give talks at church, and my assigned topic was “uplifting thoughts and speech.”

Earlier this week I saw a lot of people tweeting about Elder David A. Bednar’s talk “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” at BYU’s Education Week. It turned out to be the perfect resource for my talk, and I wanted to share about it here. I hope whether you’re Mormon or not you’ll find it interesting and helpful.

The title is drawn from Moses 7:62, where God says that in the last days, “righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood.” The tool that Elder Bednar recommended for causing this flood of truth is social media. He invited us all to use social media to share simple messages of goodness and truth. Or, in hashtag form: #ShareGoodness.

The Church has created a #ShareGoodness website with some great resources related to Elder Bednar’s talk, and it has a few questions to get you thinking about what you could post:

What simple truths are you grateful for?

What happy moments did you have during a hard day?

What did someone do for you today?

Elder Bednar also offered several guidelines for sharing goodness on social media:

1. Be authentic and consistent

“Our messages should be truthful, honest, and accurate. We should not exaggerate, embellish, or pretend to be someone or something we are not.”

This should make things easier for us. We’re supposed to share the gospel in natural and not forced ways. So we don’t need to start writing Facebook statuses that sound like a general authority, we just need to say things in our own way that have meaning to us that are uplifting. That’s what will resonate with our friends anyway.

2. Edify and uplift

“We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than to argue, debate, condemn, or belittle. … Share the gospel with genuine love and concern for others.”

Genuine love is essential. For example, I’ve had several experiences where a friend was struggling, and I shared a link to a Mormon general conference talk that related to their experience. Though we have different beliefs, they were able to find something useful from the talk, they appreciated that I thought of them, and we were able to learn from each other and become closer friends.

3. Respect the rights of others

“We and our messages should respect the property of other people and organizations. This simply means that you should not create your own content using someone else’s art, name, photos, music, video, or other content without permission.” (The LDS Media Library is a great starting place for uplifting, shareable content.)

Also, make sure others understand that you are expressing your personal thoughts and feelings, not speaking on behalf of the Church.

4. Be wise and vigilant

Wise words for any social media user: “Remember that the Internet never forgets. Anything you communicate through a social media channel indeed will live forever—even if the app or program may promise otherwise. Only say it or post it if you want the entire world to have access to your message or picture for all time.”

“… We should not allow even good applications of social media to overrule the better and best uses of our time, energy, and resources. … As Elder M. Russell Ballard recently taught, digital technologies should be our servants and not our masters.”

The final challenge from Elder Bednar was this: “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.”

I highly recommend checking out Elder Bednar’s talk. This blog post is my attempt to #ShareGoodness. How will you #ShareGoodness?

VERY IMPORTANT NOTES

1. Acceleration of technology. Elder Bednar discussed the amazing acceleration of technology–and highlighted several ways these advancements were foreseen by past prophets. I’ve been interested in this acceleration ever since my communications classes at BYU. For example, this graph shows how “innovations introduces more recently are being adopted more quickly.” And there are some fascinating (though largely over-my-head) theories and ideas out there, such as Moore’s Law, the work of Ray Kurzweil (as in his TED talk or this essay), and this examination of acceleration. It’s even more fascinating that this technological acceleration is happening in parallel with a spiritual acceleration, or what Mormon Church leaders have described as the hastening of the work of salvation–namely, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, strengthening members of the church, and doing family history and temple work.

2. Of selfies and general authorities. As I mentioned in my talk at church today, it was quite amusing to hear matter-of-fact Elder Bednar use the word tweet. I also loved in the last general conference hearing President Uchtdorf say selfie. So if in the next conference we can just get President Packer to say hashtag, that would be awesome. At this point in my talk, yes, I totally attempted an impression of President Packer’s gravelly voice.

Dave and I had so much fun researching tech terms that have been used by general authorities that we made a quick video compilation of soundbites including the above-mentioned tweet and selfie, along with President Monson saying blogging and Elder Perry saying the Internet. Alas, I can’t post it without permission from the Church’s Intellectual Property Office–if I get the green light, I promise I will post it, because it is awesome.

I find the way our (older) leaders use these tech terms endearing and amusing. But lest anyone think all this somehow means that general authorities of the Church are out of touch, I affirm that the contrary is true. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testified:

Not often but over the years some sources have suggested that the Brethren are out of touch in their declarations, that they don’t know the issues, that some of their policies and practices are out-of-date, not relevant to our times.

As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings.

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