Online Christian consistency is urged

Justin Schmithorst, Staff Writer

Fresh, hot pizza along with wings drenched in sauces greeted some Catholic Campus Ministry members last Wednesday at The Bistro bar and grill along Nees Avenue in Geistown.

The spicy aromas of pepperoni and hot sauce filled a small section of the eatery that the Catholic Campus Ministry’s 20 patrons were occupying.

“(We’re) one part food,  two parts Jesus,” junior ministry member Shaun Ocipa said.

Alongside the student-members were two guest speakers and Catholic Campus Ministry’s minister LaDonna McCrary.

McCrary said that gatherings like this are part of a six-pack guest speaker program. Guest speakers come in six times throughout the course of the school year to offer insight about various topics, usually at a local eatery.

Wednesday night’s guests of honor were Pitt-Johnstown marketing professor John McGrath and his wife, Anne McGrath.

John McGrath started out by passing out fliers. The sheet of paper was divided into two sections: one for the amount of time one spends on social media, and the other for what percentage of the content is positive, negative or neutral.

John McGrath had everyone there announce their answers to the group.

The first time, he had the group go around and announce how much time they spent on social media.

“The averages are about four to five hours for guys and five to six hours for girls,” John McGrath said.

He repeated this process, this time with the ratio of positive, negative and neutral content. The average was about 40 percent negative.

John McGrath stressed the detrimental effects of students being bombarded by content that is 40 percent negative for four to six hours a day. He said that those hours could be spent with others in a more positive fashion.

He then spoke about the event’s main topic: “Virtual self versus real self.”   

In the morning of that same day, in the comforts of his office, John McGrath spoke about what he strived to get across as a guest speaker.

“I want to keep things simple. I also want people to realize the power of social media in people’s lives, both good and bad.”

“Social media is another form of communication, and the Christians can use it to communicate to each other,” John McGrath said.

“One self in life, and another on social media. People have to be consistent. I want to share tips to help others keep their real and online presences consistent,” he said.

John McGrath made this same point in the speech later that day, and Anne McGrath added an example from their church.

“We go to church with this one woman. On the outside, she seemed like a nice person. She was a mom, and she went to church. I did work-related business with her,” she said.

“However, I went on Facebook and saw all of these mean, nasty and derogatory comments. It completely changed my opinion of her. I will stay as far away from her as possible and will not do business with her again,” Anne McGrath said.

John McGrath added that some companies in the Silicon Valley in California have adopted a new facial recognition technology. It searches the Web and can pull up the face of a future employee with 97 percent accuracy.

“This includes any pictures posted on the Internet with red Solo cups,” John McGrath said.

“Despite the fact that this technology is only used in San Francisco, five to 10 years from now, it may be commonplace for most companies,” John McGrath said.

John McGrath summed up by saying that God would want consistency in behavior.

“I think there’s a message from God to not do something differently online than you would yourself.”

After the speech, junior member Megan Kostan said that she will look at things differently, and pay attention to her own virtual-self versus real-self.