Healthy Soul Sharing Jesus on… TikTok by Emily Clare Burt If you scroll through your phone you probably see all different kinds of social media apps — Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch… the list goes on. And of course, there is TikTok. TikTok has quickly taken over the general meme culture in which you can’t go to Walmart without seeing a 10-year-old doing some sort of TikTok dance. The trends are practically everywhere and while it can be lots of fun to share videos between friends and maybe make your own, there lie boundaries, “social norms,” and a call for creativity. Being Catholic and having any sort of social media can be tricky, especially in regard to the internal conflict and dialogue we have with ourselves. But what does it mean to use these social media platforms in a healthy way, for both ourselves and others? Likewise, how can we use TikTok in a practical holy way to share the truth and joy of Christ? TikTok and Jesus Firstly, it goes without saying that your worth is absolutely NOT reflected by any success you might get on social media, specifically TikTok. You can read more about that on this blog! However, it’s OK to acknowledge that making videos and coming up with new ideas can be super fun and entertaining! God is the most extravagant artist through His perfect design in the world He has created for us. Therefore, it is not only good, but worthy of praise to step into that creativity He has equipped us with, even in the context of menial 1-minute videos. However, with that comes an internal pressure of “is what I’m posting “Catholic” enough?” or maybe on the other end where you ask “is what I’m posting TOO Catholic?” I know from experience that internal conflict is very real and can trigger shame for how much of our faith we share. The reality of this is that the depth or authenticity of your faith doesn’t depend on what we post to social media. This doesn’t mean that we should post anything without thinking of the message that it portrays, but it also doesn’t mean that we have to prove ourselves to be seen in the eyes of our Creator or others. Our faith is meant to be shown through our lives, but not proven. The goal of TikTok is not to disprove others’ beliefs, to be flashy with our Catholic title, or even, to convert people. For a Catholic, I’d suggest that the goal of TikTok should be as simple as sharing joy with other people, with Christ as the source. So… how do we do that? Be Strategic I’m not going to lie, this is going to be a little extra and really show how much time I have spent on this app. However, this goes to show how powerful TikTok really is. In order to wisely navigate through TikTok, it requires an understanding of the app itself, to leverage it most effectively in sharing the joys of Christ. That being said, every single action you do on TikTok is being monitored, recorded, and analyzed to push content that you’ll like right to your screen, thus creating a higher chance of you spending more time on the app. Every like, comment, share, the amount of time you’ve watched a video, profile clicks, different hashtags, and sounds, etc. All of it is used to form data that curates content that appeals to you. And it works. When you like videos that use #Catholic, #Christian, or #Prolife (all great hashtags), immediately your “For You” page is going to be covered in those videos. This is absolutely wonderful for a feeling of comradery and community online. However, when posting videos yourself, your videos are going to be pushed to those of a similar audience. IF you are wanting to create content for any audience to see, be careful with your hashtags and the videos you like. Again, I know how overly analytical this sounds but this app is also extremely powerful. There is an opportunity to spread radical joy and humor in something that can sometimes be very clouded by society’s standard of entertainment. Because we ourselves are redeemed in Christ and are brought to a fuller image of life, so humor can too. So have wisdom in the algorithm, audience, and most importantly, the risk of exposure. Be Prudent With any form of social media, there is a risk for exposure and temptation in our own actions. TikTok by its nature can breed pride, due to it conditioning us to seek attention and affirmation for our content. Similarly, it can cause comparison amongst others in many forms such as immodesty, vanity, excessive swearing, rebelliousness, etc. With that, I’m going to get real honest with y’all for a second. Tik Tok can breed temptation in the context of immodesty — whether it’s infamous Tik Tok dances, clothing (or lack of clothing), gestures and mannerisms, or language. If you find yourself gravitating or creating that type of content, you’re missing the opportunity you have as a Christian to share the authentic joy that comes from a life of virtue. Be honest with yourself if you catch yourself slipping into this type of content and know when you need to take a break or ask for accountability. Just be you, dude. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being creative, fun, and goofy on TikTok. Creating content you yourself enjoy can bring the joy you’ve found in Jesus to so many others. By actively living that out, we allow Christ’s joy and humor to radiate within us. And don’t underestimate that! People are attracted to authentic joy and GOOD humor because people have an inherent desire for the God that lives in you! Never underestimate the power of the Gospel, specifically, living it and sharing the joy you find in it. This doesn’t mean that everything you ever say and do has to be direct Bible quotes; but rather, show that there is very real hope and joy that you’ve found in Christ that you can invite others into. So whether your humor is dry, goofy, bizarre, or just plain weird – GO FOR IT! You are revealing a fuller image of Christ and the Church, in which your individuality is good, true, and beautiful. And Praise God for that.