In response to a survey distributed on Facebook and Twitter and in our email newsletter, a small group of people (7 percent) told America that social media had played a negative (6 percent) or very negative (1 percent) role in their faith lives. Younger readers were more likely than others to choose this answer. “There doesn’t seem to be any room for dialogue. It’s either one extreme or the other,” said one reader from North Carolina.
A high percentage of America readers characterized social media’s role in their faith lives as either positive (32 percent) or very positive (21 percent). Julie King of Smithfield, R.I., told America: “Since using Facebook to follow numerous theologians and our parish priest and director of religious education, I have been exposed to so many wonderful, insightful articles and lectures and homilies. I have learned so very much about my Catholic Church.”
Forty percent of respondents to our poll had mixed experiences of social media in the context of their faith. These readers described having both negative and positive interactions. Kim Murphy of Philadelphia, Pa., wrote: “While social media is a good way to stay informed about church news and papal events, it is often slanted in perspective (e.g., conservative or liberal) and often has a comments section that overflows with hateful, disrespectful discourse.”