Welcome to Part 3 of the ‘Joining the Conversation’ Series. Here I will explore what kinds of things you can share to join this online conversation.
Is it really worth it to share your story online?
Here is a comment by Meg McDonnell, a well-respected Catholic blogger – her words might just convince you of the potential effect you can have on others. This was taken from her article, ‘Mormon Mommy Blogs and the Quest for Peace’, and is in reference to the many Mormon moms out there who are currently blogging,
“In our often cynical and stifling world, these Mormon women seem to have kept the joy alive. So much so that even modern atheist women are captivated. Why, you ask? “Well,” explained Salon writer Emily Matchar, as she confessed that her and many of her secular friends with Ph.D.s read at least a dozen Mormon Mommy Blogs a day, “to use a word that makes me cringe, these blogs are weirdly ‘uplifting.’”
What does it mean to share our story?
Well, firstly, it is important to understand the conundrum of life; every one of us is unique in our own way, and yet we posses connecting points of similarity. For example, as members of the LDS church we have common ground through our religious beliefs and practices, but we also have differences that are unique to our cultural and social heritage.
If you don’t follow my meaning, then go on to Mormon.org and watch 4 or 5 of the ‘I’m a Mormon’ videos, and you’ll understand that while each individual is seeking to progress in this life through adherence to gospel principles and ordinances, they are all doing it in their own unique way, according to their different backgrounds and circumstances.
It is within these unique differences that our stories find value. Fundamentally, the world we live in is a world trying to find connections and meaning. As we share our stories, we offer connection points for anyone seeking them.
So when we talk about sharing our stories, it is in the literal sense. In most cases, this is all we need to do. We can take the experiences of our lives and, with a gospel focus, we share them with the world – offering connection points along the way.
To highlight this idea, watch this short (1.34min) video with LDS blogger and comedian, Ken Craig. Craig has tapped into his unique style of humour and uses it as a connection point for other people who are seeking humour in their lives. It is all about being yourself as you share your story.
Tips for joining the conversation:
Sometimes it can be daunting to know exactly what to write. Below are some simple guidelines to follow when putting your words together:
- Brevity – a few words go a long way. Craft your words carefully. We are stewards over every word that comes from us. Choose those words carefully, and make them count.
- Live it first and then share what is in your heart. Make it organic – approach your writing from a place of faith; having lived it and experienced it.
- Show, don’t tell – Focus on your personal story, rather than telling people what they should and should not be doing.
- Be confident – don’t be afraid, write with confidence and conviction.
- Explore the processes you go through to overcome difficulties – Show the world that we are real people. We can have both good and bad days. Eg. The Psalm of Nephi (2 Nephi 4:16-35)
- Maintain missionary mode, not name tag mode – leave the preaching to the full-time missionaries. Turn our hearts to the spirit as we tell our story. To read more about what this means then visit the Sharing the Gospel blog, where this is discussed in more detail.
- Use available resources – Places like Mormon.org, and the Mormon Channel all have videos and stories that can be used to support your ideas.
- Add value to existing conversations – Use other blog posts and conversations to create your own conversation. Build on what has already been said by offering your personal take on it.
- Be a good example – Be consistent with your beliefs by using appropriate language and sharing things positively.
- Be Prayerful – Always write with a prayer in your heart.
“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” 2 Nephi 32:9
Tips on what to avoid:
We also have to be careful with our word choice. Online, our words remain long after we have moved on. Below are some tips on what to avoid:
- Avoid too much detail – Don’t get side tracked. Stick to your story without getting lost in too many words.
- Don’t turn it into a slinging match – Keep it to your own story and not someone else’s. Nephi (2 Nephi 4:16-35) told his story after having a hard time, but he kept the story about him and his experience.
- Never be confronting in your language – always be open to different opinions, and never feel that you have to convince someone they are wrong. The emphasis is on sharing, not preaching – “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”.
- Keep sacred things sacred – Don’t talk about things that are inappropriate to discuss in a public forum. Make sure that visitors know that you will just not go there.
- Never violate the privacy of others – Don’t talk about, or share images of other people unless you have their permission. Maintain the mandate, ‘Think before you share, ask before you post’.
Next week I will continue by exploring more closely the two main avenues we have to share our story, and the best way to apply this information there.
Since I’ve not been a serious blogger for a very long, I would like to acknowledge the several resources I have drawn on for this post and the next. Thanks go to the following blogs