Why are Catholic Women “Mean Girls” on Social Media?

I won’t name names because it doesn’t matter.

On any other day, it could have been someone else.

Or you.

Or me.

But that particular day, it was a high-profile Catholic with a follower count to match and a big social-media footprint who got the whole thing started.

User 1 mocked someone — a stranger — who was in no position to defend herself, and several hundred more users piled on with likes and comments, maybe hoping for a coveted sign of approval from User 1, such as a like, a retweet, or maybe (gasp!) even a personal response.

That’s how these pile-ons get started, after all. One person tosses out a tweet and we all jump into the fray.

Why do we do this? Why are we taking a page from “Mean Girls” in our use of social media?

Is this how Catholic women support each other?

We jump in. We pile on. Maybe we even make that statement that starts it all. We do this out of our own desire to be heard. To be seen. To be acknowledged.

Can’t we find ways to be seen by modeling kindness?

Can’t our voices be heard more clearly when we offer a positive word? A compliment? A cheerful greeting? A joke that isn’t at someone else’s expense?

I’m not saying there’s never any room to be snarky, but I am saying you need to be careful about your target. That target is a person too.

Probably at first, kindness won’t get you too far in growing your follower count. But if you get (or keep) followers because you tweet mean stuff, you need to re-evaluate your social-media strategy.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. (Luke 12:48)

Use the power of your platform for good. Please.

Otherwise, you scandalize the rest of us — at best — and hurt others.

And if you’re going to use the power of your platform to exclude those who don’t fit in with the rest of your tribe, then that’s a tribe I wouldn’t want to join.

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Photo credit: By Molly Belle (2016), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD

Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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Tiber River Review: Style, Sex and Substance

Don’t let your pride get in the way of your reading this encouraging book. I’ll admit that mine did, for a while; I’m pretty sure that most of the 10 contributors are a good bit younger than I am. But after reading several excerpts of Style, Sex and Substance online, I was convinced that while the women whose essays are featured in this book may be younger than me, they’ve got plenty of wisdom to share. The writing is honest and real, and by the end of each chapter you’ll feel that its author is a new, trusted friend.

Don’t let the title fool you; I found that this book is a whole lot more about “substance” than sex. Yes, there are humorous, real-life stories (and I loved those!) There are also reflection questions at the end of each chapter that would work as well for small-group study as they do for individual reflection and journaling. A small sampling of these include:

  • sins vs. quirks
  • nurturing yourself
  • putting your schedule in order
  • fostering intimacy in marriage
  • personal holiness for single women
  • making rash judgements
  • healthy friendship
  • building your marriage
  • goals for motherhood
  • the Christian life and popular culture
Not all chapters are for every woman at every time, but this book doesn’t need to be read start-to-finish to be appreciated. Start with the introduction and chapter 1, then pick and choose as the Spirit moves you. You’ll be hooked, and you’ll want to keep this book around for encouragement in the various seasons of your life as a Catholic woman.
Style, Sex and Substance would be a great gift for a young woman just starting out on her own, a bride-to-be, a new mom or even a “woman of a certain age” like myself who’s in need of a new perspective.
After all, there’s always something new to be learned–even from women who are younger than you.

My compliments to editor Hallie Lord and all the contributors to this excellent book.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of Style, Sex and Substance for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

A review copy of the book was provided to me. I did not receive other compensation for this review.

Expanding My Vocabulary

When I was in high school I had to take a weekly “vocabulary” class for 3 1/2 years. It was designed to help students improve their verbal SAT scores. I learned many words during those years, some of which have stuck with me.

I did not learn the word “sheroes.”

Evidently it’s a word now. I first saw it on a sign in front of the local Montessori school, honoring our “heroes and sheroes” serving in the military. And this morning, the all-news radio station aired a story about local “sheroes” and how they will be honored at the National Liberty Museum. Then I googled it and discovered that it’s a very commonly-used term, at least among a certain crowd (probably the same people who push for Inclusive Language at church).

And all this time, I thought there already was a feminine form of “hero”–heroine. Silly me!

The Dignity of Women


In my sidebar you will notice an image like the one above. Clicking on that one will bring you to the site, The Dignity of Women, which commemorates the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem.

Genevieve Kinecke writes:

It is our great joy to learn that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is encouraging the faithful worldwide to observe the 20th anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem in the coming year. This Apostolic Letter (signed August 15th, 1988) was written by John Paul II to encourage women in their vocations, to highlight the essential feminine genius that they provide to the world, and to restore spiritual and physical motherhood to a culture that was quickly losing sight of the very meaning of nuptial love.

The Catholics of North America have been asked in particular to consider the document in light of one overarching theme: The Dignity of Women in a Technological and Consumeristic Society. To that effect, a website has been created in order to provide a comprehensive resource for those looking for ways to reflect on this timely anniversary. Dignityofwomen.com will point to books, speakers, study guides, and other initiatives that will bring the beauty of this document to as many people as possible, while constantly integrating suggestions, additions, and a bulletin board of events for women to access over the coming year.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle mentions a Catholic radio show that also highlights this anniversary.

I look forward to reading this Apostolic Letter for the first time, and reflecting upon it in terms of my own vocation of wife and mother.

Big thanks to Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle for the image and sidebar link!