Tech Talk: Prayer and Social Media

I’ve been a regular at Eucharistic Adoration for just over two years, and it’s taken me this long to find a way to use the time as a prayer intercessor for others.

For too long, I’d gone to the Adoration Chapel with an agenda and a tote bag: a spiritual book (or three) to read, a rosary, a journal, and my iPad so I could pray Liturgy of the Hours. It was getting to the point where Adoration was another task to check off my list, a quiet hour to read a book I’d promised to review. Check, check, check.

Checking off tasks is not what Adoration is supposed to be about.

I’d been noticing for a while that my friend Allison Gingras would share on Facebook that she was heading to Adoration, and offer to pray for any special intentions people posted. I knew she wouldn’t mind if I adopted her idea, so I created a graphic with a photo from our Adoration Chapel and shared it on Facebook for the first time in late February.


The response was tremendous. Over 40 likes. Over 35 comments. And a whole host of messages with private intentions. And I wasn’t just hearing from Catholics. I filled 2 index cards, both sides, with intentions posted in under 3 hours.

People are hungry for that intercessory prayer. People carry secret burdens and don’t always know how to ask for help, or even prayer over their situation. It’s a comfort to know that someone else is holding them up in prayer.

I took those two index cards and my rosary to the chapel. I always pray the Franciscan Crown rosary, and it’s a good thing it has 7 decades, because at one bead per intention I needed all those prayers to cover my list, plus my family and one general prayer for any late-breaking intentions (I wasn’t checking Facebook in the chapel.)

Later that day I got an email from one of the deacons at our parish, who’s my friend on Facebook. He wanted to let me know that he and his wife were going to begin inviting their Facebook friends to share intentions, to be prayed for during their Adoration hour.

He also said that this is a great way to evangelize. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s true. Originally I’d hesitated to mention on Facebook that I was going to Adoration–but this has shown me that it’s something needed and appreciated.

I created a rosary prayer intentions printable to use each week to list intentions: my own, as well as those of my friends on Facebook. It’s also a Franciscan Crown Rosary tutorial. Download this printable and set it up for your “intentional rosary.”

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

"Tech Talk: Permission NOT Granted" @Franciscanmom

Tech Talk: Permission NOT Granted

Back when I was on Team Android, I used an app called SleepCycle as my alarm clock.

The idea behind this app is that you tell it what time you wake up, put the phone on your bed, and then it analyzes your sleep pattern based on movement, using the phone’s accelerometer, waking you up sometime in the half-hour before your target wake-up time, at a point when you were less likely to be in deep sleep. Hitting the snooze will cut the difference between current time and target wake-up time in half. Then you’d see a spiffy display showing your times of deep sleep and light sleep.*

I switched back to Team iPhone last winter, because diabetes-management software for iPhone is several months ahead of the same software for Android. Since I liked the app, I downloaded it to my new iPhone.

When I started up the app, it requested permission to use my device’s microphone. I found that puzzling. The app was really pushy about that, too. It will work with the accelerometer, but “recommends” microphone use. If you use the microphone you can leave the phone on your bedside table instead of on the bed.

"Tech Talk: Permission NOT Granted" @Franciscanmom
Via Pixabay (2016), CC0 Public Domain

I’m just not OK with granting access to my phone’s microphone to an alarm-clock app. How do I know that someone’s not on the other side of that microphone listening to what is said in my house–or anywhere else I happen to be with that phone in my hand? It creeps me out.

My friend Christine shared an article at Aleteia that shows that this issue isn’t limited to just alarm clocks. Facebook is listening in as well. Now, I don’t use the Facebook app on my phone or tablet. I look at it in the browser.

But the idea that any of my apps can eavesdrop on things? That’s disturbing.

To see who’s potentially “listening” on an iPhone, just go to Settings>>Privacy>>Microphone, to view the applications that have requested access to the microphone in your device. If you don’t like the idea of apps having access to your microphone, you can turn them off until needed.

To learn how to turn off your Facebook app in an iPhone or Android, click here. (Aleteia)

Check your settings, and think twice about what permissions you grant when you install an app.

*And about that display: I tested it once. I turned on the app during the day and left the phone in the bed, which was empty all day. It still showed an up-and-down pattern. So much for that super-duper analysis of my sleep.


This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

Small Success: Less Jealousy, More Compassion

Thursdays at begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

Several months ago, I got a Facebook friend request that surprised me, from a mom I’ve been acquainted with for several years through school. Our paths have crossed through various sports and school parties, but we don’t know each other at all and normally wouldn’t get past that “how’s your kid doing?” type of conversation.

This mom is a confident woman. She’s successful in the business world. She’s comfortable in leadership positions.

In other words, she’s the opposite of me.

My own bad experiences in high school (I was the middle-class kid in a very small school populated largely by the Ivy-league crowd) lead me to instinctively fear people like this mom. And by “fear” I mean “do anything I can to avoid having to be near” such people.

That’s not conducive to getting to know someone.

That doesn’t help you dispel the crazy illusions you have that someone else, someone you really don’t know, leads a charmed life where everything is perfectly perfect.

My fear of confident, successful leaders, it turns out, is born of a bad combination of social anxiety and jealousy.

There. I said it.

Anyway, I accepted the friend request and didn’t think anything of it.

Over the past few months, this mom has shared some things that have opened my eyes.

She does not live the charmed life I thought she did. This is not because she was ever lying about her life–it’s about the assumptions I made given the little I knew.

Her life is not perfect. She has problems too. She has trials and struggles and difficult situations.

She’s just like the rest of us, trying to make the best of things.

This mom has been gifted with confidence and leadership abilities. She uses them at work and she uses them as she volunteers to help her children’s schools. She’s a hard worker, not standing on some perfect pedestal.

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800

So for those people who say that spending time on social media is useless, I’m sharing this story. If I had not made this Facebook connection, I’d never have learned that someone I thought was so perfect, who had it all, has problems too.

I’d never have had the opportunity to feel less jealousy and more compassion.

I’m still working on the social anxiety part, but this is a big step in the right direction.

Share your Small Successes at by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Half-Joke, Half-Vent: Facebook Interpretations

The other day I lived through an example of how things said online aren’t always what they seem. After a Murphy’s Law hour, when everything that could go wrong did, I blew off a little steam on Facebook and then got down to the business of dealing with All The Things.

My oven is broken and there’s a mouse in the back porch. Also, I’m all out of Milky Ways.

Yes, I was whining. And venting. And trying to make light of the situation, all at the same time.

After the fact, it was interesting to do a little people-watching in terms of the reactions.

Some people sympathized.

  • Boo.
  • Oh no!
  • Dislike!
  • Triple trouble.
  • Noooooooo
  • What a bummer of a day for you.
  • Disaster!

Some people got the joke. And the need for chocolate at a time like this.

  • The worst was the last one. 🙂
  • Me: I’d definitely be dealing better with the first 2 if that last thing wasn’t also a factor.
  • That’s some serious <redacted> you’re dealing with!! lol
  • Without the chocolate, I would not be able to deal with the other two issues! LOL! 😉
  • Me: EXACTLY.
  • You can’t handle all that stress without chocolate!!
  • Local friend who understands my weakness for ice cream: Guess you need a trip to The Meadows
  • That last one is the deal breaker really
  • Noooooo!!! Not out of Milky Ways!!!! I’m sorry for loss.
  • This ranks as a State of Emergency.
  • Barb, you were on the Nightly News no Milky Ways !!! lol
  • Local friend 2 who likes my homemade cookies: It was the Milky Ways that really make this sad! Oh, and your oven, too (no cookies)!
  • Crumb. Any other chocolate?
  • Oh no! Out of Milky Ways!!!Yummy

Then we got down to solving some problems.

  • Me: Mouse-in-the-porch plan: when Street Urchins arrive, promise them donuts if they find the mouse and safely relocate it OUTSIDE. Not that it couldn’t get right back in again, but…
  • Friend: broken oven– I switch to the steel wok on the grill, or a crock pot– but that last one– out of chocolate with nuts– oh that is major bad!
  • Me: I have a toaster oven and a Nesco roaster, so I can make it work (though there won’t be cookies).
  • Friend 2: I have made cookies in a toaster oven…cannot be helped when you have a cookie craving in the middle of a heatwave… Lol
  • Friend 3: First things first: Make a run to the drug store!
  • Friend 4: Tomcat traps are great. You never have to touch the mouse’s carcass —- OR you can get a humane trap and bait it with peanut butter and/or chocolate. You just have to be sure to haul the catch far, far away (3 or 4 miles, or on the other side of a creek or river) so they don’t return.Then follow Friend 3’s advice and run to the store for those Milky Ways! LOL
  • Me: Street Urchins are currently debating whether a donut is “worth it” in this case.
  • Friend 6: You can solve that milky way crisis pretty easily. The others, not so much….
  • Friend 7: Mice hate peppermint and a mini peanut butter cracker on a mouse trap works quite well. you’re on your own with the oven. I’d call a repairman or someone with those skills.
  • World-traveling friend: It is too hot to turn on the oven. Pay the urchin five bucks for catching the mouse. Amazon should take care of the Milky Way problem, unless you want British ones and then I can bring some back next week. Let me know.

And then, a progress report:

Me: Looks like the Street Urchins have prevailed over the mouse! (And killed a giant bee as a bonus!)

Friend 4: HOORAY!!!!!

And then, a ray of hope for my broken appliance:

  • Friend 5: Barb, my husband repairs ovens! What’s wrong with it?
  • Me: Well, it is flashing E2 F3 in the display and burning SUPER hot.
  • Friend 5: I will have him call you! What make oven and how old. Gas or electric?
  • Commence discussion re: make, model and what’s a good time to call.

Further resolution of the situation and other good news:

Street Urchins have been repaid for the safe capture and relocation of the mouse with donuts. And I have a caramel iced coffee, so I think we’re pretty much all set.

For the record, it was decaf. And very much needed.
For the record, it was decaf. And very much needed.

AND things keep looking up. I requested jury duty postponement so it wouldn’t be during TheKid’s summer vacation, and I just got a postcard saying I’m excused!

(And there was rejoicing in all the land.)

Final report:

The urchins caught the mouse for 2 donuts each plus Klondike bars. 🙂

World-traveling friend: Excellent financial negotiation skills! Amp him with sugar and send him home

Further on down the line, after it was all over:

Friend 8: actually, i don’t like this like this. i am saddened by this, but like that you find humor even in the broken mousiness and the absent milky ways…
Me: That’s my survival skill, 🙂 At least we got the mouse safely to the woods down the block instead of my porch.

Friend 9: This sounds like a very bad day! 🙁
Me: Fortunately, it got better. But all that in one hour was not fun.

And then there was this:

First world problems …

Now that’s the comment I don’t know how to take. Because it didn’t come with any emoticon to soften it, and the person who typed it isn’t someone I know in person (but who is a friend of many of my friends, and professionally I do wind up “friending” such people).

I am well aware that the lack of a working oven and the presence of a mouse are not major crises, and that not having any Milky Ways in the house does not constitute a State of Emergency.

So, OK. I was complaining about some pretty minor stuff. My friends got that it was minor, but upsetting, and the back-and-forth helped me get through the afternoon with some semblance of my sanity intact.

But now I feel like I am being judged, like I’m being told, “Suck it up, buttercup! There are starving people in <insert Third World Country here> who would love to have your ‘problems’.”

I wasn’t kidding when I told that one friend that finding humor in this situation is my survival skill. The humor here was that there were no Milky Ways, and bargaining with the Street Urchins for donuts in exchange for safe mouse relocation.

I can’t be sure that this person’s comment was meant as a put-down, but that’s how I interpreted it. Again, it’s hard to tell, just based on text and not knowing the person behind the words.

This may indicate that it’s time for me to evaluate whether it’s a good idea to have people as friends just because we have 47 mutual friends on Facebook. I might need to make an announcement that if I don’t know you in person or work with you, I’m unfriending, and then direct folks to “like” my author page.

(And yes, “work with you” counts because I work with over 100 people whom I’ve never met! If those people send me friend requests, I grant them.)

I’d love your thoughts on this one.


I don’t have thick enough skin to handle the kinds of conflicts that come when people who think everything must be done their way don’t get their way.

I got stuck in one of these this morning, and I am reeling right now.

A bit of background:  I’ve administrated the Facebook and Twitter accounts for Little Brother’s school for the past year and a half. Because our principal is cautious regarding cyberbullying, it was agreed that any comments made to the school’s Facebook page would be deleted.

facebook logoIn 18 months, I have never seen anything but positive comments (and an occasional question) but I remove those comments anyway.

As a courtesy to the people whose comments are deleted, I take the time to send them a message like this one:

“I’m sorry; I had to remove your comment from the school Facebook page. I realize that it was a positive comment but per the school administration, no comments are allowed on the page. Unfortunately Facebook will not allow us to set the page up that way. You may “like” but not comment. Thanks for understanding!”

Because of the way Facebook works, sometimes these messages wind up in people’s “Other” folder, where messages from people they’re not connected with on Facebook land. But sometimes I get replies to these messages, and usually they’re simply apologies and the whole thing is over and done.

Not today.

I removed a positive comment and sent my standard message and got a very angry response.

“It’s a sad world we live in…I don’t like you sending me a personal note…that is a shame…you shouldn’t even have a website…tell that to the principal.”

An attempt at a courteous response resulted in nothing but Feeding The Trolls.

And now I am sitting here trying to keep a lid on my emotions because a nasty message on social media has me all wound up and overwrought. I’m clenched and shaky and holding back the tears.

Social anxiety, anyone? (Social media anxiety…?)

All because someone I’ve never met in person (and am not likely to, as her children have already graduated from the school) was less-than-gracious when I dared to uphold a school policy.

And I don’t know how to make this go away, this reaction that is completely out of proportion to the situation I’m in.