Social Media and The Craft
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner 32°, MPS
Being a Soldier and Freemason, my experience with the Craft has been anything but ordinary. When I started researching Freemasonry I was overseas in Italy, using the Internet to find all the information possible before finally deciding to petition to my home lodge in Flushing, Michigan. When I finally made it back to Michigan, I was a special case. The Grand Lodge allowed me to be Initiated, Passed and Raised in the same day. This was allowed only because I was leaving Michigan shortly thereafter to be stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Before arriving in Oklahoma, I researched different lodges in the area. I signed up for a website called The Freemason Network, which was hosted by the Southern Jurisdiction, Scottish Rite. I have written a few things for that website and eventually my ideas and articles grew outward toward a more public domain called Celestial Brotherhood, which I still write and operate today. Shortly after arriving at Fort Sill, I was attached to a unit that was deploying overseas. From there I would continue my blog as well as write for this website and I would get the majority of my masonic education, brotherly contact and article ideas from different magazines and social media.
Social Media plays an important role in the world today. Though obviously true for the Profane world, it is just as vital – though not as obviously so – for the Craft. There isn't a social media site out there that doesn't have some kind of Masonic posting or subgroup. From all the Masonic groups and pages on Facebook or the Masonic “subreddits" on Reddit to individual blogs or websites, no matter where you turn on the Internet there is something about Freemasonry. One might have to search a little harder on some sites than others, but overall Freemasonry has a huge footprint in the world of Social Media. Now, what does this mean to the Fraternity? Does this movement benefit the Craft, or is it detrimental? The answer is found in how we engage in social media as men and Masons.
Many may say that it is detrimental and could only hurt our Fraternity, no matter what discussions take place. One should remember however, that Social Media is a tool and should be treated as such. It is a universal tool that could help our trowels and cable tows reach further lengths than we otherwise could have imagined. Lengthening our cable tows is a double edged sword. Though we can go further with our influence, we can also hang ourselves with the extra rope. That old saying, “Think before you act” is even more important today with Social Media. Everything we say, do and take pictures of is now more easily accessible. The profane can look at our Social Media pages and use our actions against us. So we must remember to enlarge our square, compasses and our plumb accordingly. In addition to twisting our words the anti- or non-masonic community can also illegitimately obtain our secrets. This has already taken place to some degree, as the grips, names, and rituals can all be found on the Internet. However, just because all of the secrets of Masonry can be found online, isn't a legitimate excuse to slack in our obligations when it comes to what we put on Social Media.
In order to ensure our secrets stay secret we must remember to keep our obligations, regardless of medium. It doesn't matter if you are discussing Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite or York Rite information, our obligations state that we will never reveal, always conceal the Secrets of Freemasonry. If the profane find out something we hold dear to our hearts as a secret and publish it online, it is not our responsibility to confront them, nor shall we forget to uphold our obligations. If a man gives you a grip and asks you what it is, you simply tell them it is just a hand shake, or something of that nature. How they found out about the grip is inconsequential. The only thing we can do is protect it still. The grip itself is not secret, but the use of it is. Knowing the actual secrets of Freemasonry is just as important as keeping them. Engage your Grand Lodge and have open and free discussions regarding the Secrets of Freemasonry. Part of the issue we see is that individuals want to protect the secrets, but don't really know what is and what is not secret.
Some may say, if Social media can hang our Fraternity, “Why don’t we just stop the use of it?” In today’s society, such an inward subculture will die out without interaction with the outside world. Good men would never come to Freemasonry unless they have a family member in the Fraternity. I would not have petitioned the Grand Lodge of Michigan, and likely never became part of the Scottish Rite, if not for the information provided online. Social media helps us stay in contact with one another and it is easier to contact a brother overseas online now than it is through “snail mail.”
The world is changing around us. As a Fraternity, we need to adapt to the changes. Social media is a great way to get information out to the world. If a Lodge posts, on their Facebook group or Twitter, of an event they are hosting, brothers of that and surrounding lodges will have the information and can further disseminate the same to everyone they know. This has the potential to raise awareness, become public, and raise more money for our good causes. It is important to our Craft, that we stay with the times and progress forward. The fewer lodges that go dark, the more relevancy and influence we have on the world. Only the dead have a valid excuse to never change.