I have to admit that I'm probably one of the Internet's biggest fans. Cat videos? I've seen my share. Memes? One time I made one
. Those random and ridiculous quizzes that are all over the place? Among other things, my personality matches that of a mako shark and a hippie who makes grocery bags out of newspapers and sunshine.
The point is that I'm no stranger to the cloud. My head is fully in it. That's why I was blown away--four months later, I still am--by Elder Bednar's social media presentation at BYU's Education Week last August, particularly these lines:
"My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. 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'll be honest. My first thought upon hearing this was, "Wait. What? But we're already flooding the earth with thousands of good things, aren't we? How can all of those things just be a trickle?"
I mean, let that sink in for a moment. We have the "I am a Mormon" campaign. We have church leaders on social media sites. We have LDS Tools, the Gospel Library, Mormon Messages, a variety of very uplifting LDS Facebook pages to follow, and Family Search, and, yet, as Elder Bednar is saying, we aren't doing enough. We aren't reaching our potential.
My mind reels to think about that, and for the past four months, that's what I've done. I've thought long and hard about it. The conclusion I've come to is that this is the year that we could really do it. Each of us have a hand on the floodgates, and in 2015, if every one of us does our part, we can flood the earth. We can fill the Internet, and in extension, the world with virtual armies of Helaman fighting for Jesus Christ and directing our friends and neighbors to his gospel.
This year is our year. Are you ready to start the flood? Here's the first thing I would recommend you start doing to #sharegoodness and some tips on how to do it:
Start a blog, or if you have a blog, blog more about your beliefs.
I know what some of you who have never blogged before are thinking. How is a blog supposed to do any good? or blogs are a lot of work and I don't have time or I don't even know how to start a blog.
A year ago, I would not have been able to tell you how a blog is supposed to do any good. A year ago, I was blogging about how my college papers were destroying me and how much dating stunk. Exciting stuff, right? It wasn't until I started blogging about my beliefs that I recognized the power of blogging as a missionary tool. There is something about writing your beliefs down and sharing them that touches people in ways you can't even see. Trust me. I have received some of the most beautiful emails from complete strangers who found something in what I had written to bring them peace or understanding. For me, missionary work has been notoriously difficult, but through blogging, I have found a way to do it that is relatively easy and effective. People around the world are begging for answers to life's hard questions. You can give them those answers! And if we're going to flood the earth with the gospel, by golly, we need to be using every tool and outlet we have to do it. A blog is a huge tool.
Think, for a moment, of the Internet like it's a busy city or billboard-infested highway. There are so many noises and sights and sounds screeching for your attention, begging for you to invest in something temporal and, often, not uplifting. We may not be able to block out all of those noises and sights and sounds, but each one of us can create a corner of the Internet where people can find safety and peace. And if every one of us were to create that corner with a blog, the Internet would be a far better thing than it is.
|Forgive me, Friberg, for messing with your painting. |
If you're thinking blogging is a lot of work, my response would be that you're already doing it. If you have a Facebook page that you regularly update, you are a blogger. If you tweet about your life, you are a blogger. If you post photos on Instagram and caption them, to some extent, you are a blogger. Blogging doesn't require years of time. All it requires is a person with a thought and a place to put that thought. You could choose a day, like every Sunday, to share your testimony or something you learned during the week. You could blog about your family and share fun experiences you've had with them. You could write about what it's like to be a member of the church. What matters in blogging is not so much quantity, but quality. If you post every now and again from the heart about things that matter to you, people will read it and they will be touched. All it takes is some typing and a few clicks.
Many of you have had years and years of experiences that people need to read about to strengthen their testimony or find one. Others of you, like me, are young and enthusiastic and want to make a difference. For a moment, I'm going to talk to you, the millennials.
The Internet was born with us, guys. Of all the people who have ever lived on earth, we are the ones most prepared to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the entire world. We understand the web like it's our primary language. We know the ins and outs of social media platforms. We use hashtags like they're going out of style. The point is, WE are the ones who are going to flood the earth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the next decades. Not our parents, not our grandparents. Us.
I know that people have told you that because you're young, you don't know anything. I know that your opinion has been discounted because you aren't over 25, because you're one of the "kids these days." But I also know that you are brilliant, and you have so many perspectives on the Atonement and the gospel that people need to read about. You can put those on your social media sites, sure. But a blog is another great way that you can share what you know to be true and reach out to people who maybe wouldn't be able to find your testimony otherwise.
So, how do you start to blog? Here's a great place to start if you have absolutely no idea what you're doing.
I am also 100% willing to help you create a blog of your own. Just contact me by clicking on the "Talk to Me" tab at the head of this page. Over the next few weeks, this blog will host advice on what to blog and how to blog from various bloggers and myself. I'll link you to great pages that can teach you tricks and give you advice of my own. If you already have a blog, fantastic! My challenge to you is to make your beliefs more a part of it.
This year, let's Blog the Gospel. You can be an official part of that effort, receive blog prompts and tricks, and connect with other bloggers at this new Facebook page created just for the occasion.
If Elder Bednar says we can flood the earth with the gospel, then we need to be ready and willing to use the tools we have to do it. Blogging is one great tool. Don't be afraid of it. Just do it! You never know whose life you'll change for the better.