Interdependent Web: Facebook for UUs

Interdependent Web: Facebook for UUs

Wondering if or how to engage with UUs on Facebook? Our guest blogger has some tips.

Liz James


[While the Rev. Heather Christensen, the Interdependent Web’s resident curator, is on maternity leave, the Interdependent Web will feature a variety of guest bloggers, some of whom will highlight Unitarian Universalist use of specific online platforms, such as today’s focus on Facebook. —Editors]

It is hard to give an overview of Facebook for people who are new to it, because as you spend time on it, it tailors itself to you, based on your choices. There is no “objective” blogroll to tap into. That said, this week there has been a clear thread in the Facebook posts of the American Unitarian Universalist community—Standing Rock.

In past weeks, Facebook and other social media have played an indispensable role in the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline organized by the Standing Rock Sioux. Through these types of media, people have been able to share direct footage of what is unfolding in their own words, through their own eyes. Calls to action have gone out, travels have been coordinated, and education has taken place.

Typing the words “Standing Rock” into my search bar, I found posts from friends. From there, I began with a post showing an image of a group gathering to travel from Minneapolis to Standing Rock, and through who was “tagged” (involved in some way—in this case through being in the photo), I could find what other people were sharing. These included things like materials to read for people considering going and ongoing discussions about issues like colonialism and solidarity.

On Jennifer Jo VonRue’s feed, I found a “Facebook Live” video recording from just fifteen minutes earlier, of a delegation of clergy from across many faiths, gathering in action to burn the doctrine of discovery and be smudged. Jennifer didn’t post it—a friend did, knowing she was there and thinking she and her friends would want to see it. Darcy Baxter posted UU images of the moment, and a description.

Another image, this one taken by Shawna Foster, captured a peaceful moment of sunrise, looking out of the camp.

Not all of Facebook is individuals, of course. I found Shawna’s image after it was posted on the page “I Am UU”. “I Am UU” is one of the first resources people refer to when asked about UU Pages on Facebook. Also well loved is the more youth and child focussed “Alice the Chalice.” These are “pages”—spots where the content is primarily produced by the owner(s) of the space. Think of a page as like a congregational newsletter.

Also very popular are Facebook groups. Think of those as like congregational coffee hour. People with a common identity or interest gather for conversation and to share resources and encouragement. There are groups for UUs interested in certain topics—such as the UU bloggers network or the UU Hysterical Society (a humour group). There are groups for certain identities too, such as UU queer religious professionals, or UU parents. A simple search will find groups that meet your interests.

Content on these pages (and all over Facebook) ranges from the cute and quippy, to the profound and meaningful (sometimes both)—as in this image posted by Jordinn Nelson Long after a recent presidential debate.

Or this image from The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, which seems particularly inspiring in the light of this week.

In uncertain times, we often look to those around us, to the “theologians in real time” in our movement. Perhaps these words out of a poem that Lynn Ungar shared this week sum it up best.

Watch where you are going.
Lean in toward what you love.
When in doubt, tell the truth.