Although single adults make up a growing number of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), their contributions to the blogosphere are often underrepresented and overlooked. Although Mormons are well known for blogging, generally speaking, the most prominent LDS blogs are from “Mormon mommy bloggers.” Alex Hicken, founder of the Mormon YSA Blog Spot, hopes to change this through putting Mormon single adult bloggers in the spotlight through his website and Facebook Page.
Alex’s project, started in January this year, is entitled the Mormon YSA Blog Spot, which aggregates content from all LDS single adult bloggers across the entire world. Akin to how the popular Mormon Mommy Blog site serves as an aggregate for Mormon mommy blogs across the world, the Mormon YSA Blog Spot seeks to help connect its readers with Mormon single adult blogs worldwide. When he first started, there was only a handful of blogs that he followed. Now, Alex follows over 100 RSS feeds from Mormon single adult bloggers and has enough content to schedule a new post to run nearly every hour. Through a partnership with LDS Single Friends, the largest Facebook Page for LDS Single Adults, Alex also shares the best blog content on that Facebook Page each week. The Mormon YSA Blog Spot is also active on social media, using Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to share content.
Although the Mormon YSA Blog Spot now shares a wide variety of content from many LDS single adults, it started from humble beginnings. The blog was started through its founder acting on a vision he had after completing his journal. He decided to publish his journal digitally through blogging, and in the process, he wondered what would happen if other LDS single adults also published their content with him. Launching such an ambitious project would be daunting for most, but Alex’s personal experiences well prepared him for this role.
Prior to launching his blog, Alex gained valuable experience promoting many fellow LDS single adults through online media. He ran a blog dedicated to publicizing letters from his brother who was serving a mission and also managed blog for a sister missionary from his home stake. Alex was not originally the promoter of the blog for the sister missionary and he realized that the blog was not effectively reaching out to its target audience.
He reached out to this sister missionary and with her consent, implemented online tactics to make the blog more effective in reaching out to the sister missionary’s friends, the stake, and their single’s branch. Alex was eventually given responsibility to format the blog posts and advertising for the blog. These experiences of managing a blog, promoting online content, and targeting specific audiences were skill sets that served Alex well when launching the Mormon YSA Blog Spot.
Alex’s passion for the Mormon YSA Blog Spot comes from his belief that content from blogs creates a stronger online community. Looking back on his own personal experience managing social media pages for LDS stakes and branches, Alex noted that these pages started to thrive after he posted blog content from fellow LDS single adults. After Alex posted content to these pages, other members also started to add content, creating more engagement and a spirit of unity among the group members.
Alex also asserted that blogging among LDS single adults is important because they bring a unique perspective to the Mormon blogosphere. LDS single adults are individuals with powerful testimonies, who can deliver a refreshing viewpoint that stands out among the more typical Mormon blogs. Alex explained that through blogging, LDS single adults have the opportunity to testify of the truthfulness of the gospel and share the impact it has made in their personal lives. He explained:
“A blog is the person’s personal ministry and life. Their example should not be preachy. A Brigham Young University – Idaho graduation speech by Elder M. Russell Ballard called “Making Your Influence Felt” taught that we should let our true selves be expressed…Our passions, no matter what they are, will be a great witness that the Gospel has been restored. Don’t hide your testimony.”
Although many LDS single adults may feel that they need to be a good writer to blog and be an example of the gospel through the written word, Alex disagrees with this perception. He explained, “Your example is not about the words that you say, but how you live the Gospel. You don’t even need to be good at writing. People will see your effort and example, and they will bear with you.”
Alex collaborates with LDS single adults around the world and cited an example of working with a LDS single adult, Lesego Mholo, from South Africa. Her English skills were limited and it was difficult to understand the first draft of an article she submitted. However, Alex took the time to go through each sentence in the first draft with her and create a readable article about love. Through their joint efforts, they were able to create a faithful representation of her experiences and give her the opportunity to share her testimony with a worldwide audience outside South Africa.
Ultimately, blogging is important because communication is an important part of building Zion in these latter-days. It’s important to share testimonies and personal experiences that can uplift others. Open communication among like-minded people can strengthen relationships, but in contrast, closed communication fosters a sense of isolation that can destroy entire communities. Alex asserted:
“Blogging and journal writing can be a tool of expression, developing integrity, and winning trust because people feel like they need to live up to their word. Being unknown to your peers, family, and friends can let mysterious hidden things happen, if we are not open enough to communicate. Closing off yourself destroys families, friendships, and communities. Let us work together in unity and humility to employ all effective means of communication to coordinating Zion, the pure in heart.”
If you’re interested in helping coordinate a Zion-like online community for LDS singles, you may contact Alex at email@example.com to have your blog posts featured at the Mormon YSA Blog Spot. If you don’t have your own blog, but would like to contribute content, Alex will post your articles directly on his blog spot. Even if you don’t fall into the Mormon YSA age bracket (18 – 30), Alex will still allow you to submit your content.
Your contributions can help Alex make an impact in sharing the testimonies of Mormon single adults across the world. You don’t have to be a master writer to represent your faith and share your story with others. Although the Prophet Ether in the Book of Mormon viewed himself weak in writing, the Lord was able to use him as an instrument in sharing gospel principles with future generations. In a like manner, regardless of our perceived inadequacies, we can make a positive impact through sharing our testimonies and personal experiences online.