Effects of Social Media on Religion By: Victoria Wiegant, Elizabeth Angel, and Delia Bense-Kang.
Introduction Today, It is easier than ever to connect with others on a religious level. With numerous social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, one can get their daily dose of religious inspiration or simply learn more about any religion through these sites. Although social media has changed the way religion is learned about, taught, and experienced, not everyone agrees it has been for the best. It is true that there are some pros and cons to the innovation of having religion on social media websites, but, it is important to be aware of what those might be in order to determine if social media is actually helping religion advance or if it is destroying it instead.
Religious Experience and Identity Through Social Media 1. One in 5 Americans now share their religious views on social networks making their religious association public and part of their identity (parvini, 2014). 2. Social Media offers more transparency by letting people share their religious views and highlighting current events associated with religions. 3. There are now more opportunities to learn about religion and virtually experience it. People can virtually attend religious gatherings via youtube or â€œfollowâ€? religious news feeds and pictures. 4. Social networks help encourage conversations about ideological positions, and worldviews. The closer one is to their religious networks the more relationships are valued and the stronger the influence.
Religious Outreach and Advertisement via Social Media 1. To keep up with modern times, religions have to make themselves accessible on social media. â€œReligious organizations must migrate their churches and temples to virtual real estate in order to stay relevant and to be where the people are,â€? (krotoski, 2011). 2. Social media is restructuring religious authority. Pastors are posting spiritual thoughts instead of scripture making themselves part of a conversation rather than just a leader 3. Instagram, facebook, and twitter provide platforms to build relationships and share experiences. Through them you can easily reach and connect with a large audience. 4. Payer apps such as praywithme.com and instapray.com are becoming popular and are a quick and easy way to stay connected to ones religion and build a religious network with like minded people. 5. Youtube provides the opportunity to learn about religions and virtually experience them.
Pros of sharing religion on Social Media 1. You can interact with many people at the same time and exchange religious information in a faster and more effective manner than would be possible in your city or hometown. 2. One can learn about other people's religious ideals by sharing them on social media websites and are then able to connect with them on a religious level. 3. For people that cannot personally meet with others religiously or in places of worship can easily keep in touch and stay updated through social media sites no matter where they are. 4. Religion is all around more easily accessible on social media today than it ever has. 5. â€œWith the explosion of online technologies and social media, religious institutions across the spectrum are finding more and more creative ways to connect with their members and reach out to new audiencesâ€? (PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly).
Cons of sharing religion on Social Media 1. People who don’t share the same religious views and ideas can be offended by “posts” or comments made on social media websites. 2. Some people who do not agree with your religious ideals might want to argue with you to defend their own religious ideals. 3. It can be dangerous because you can be attacked/bullied based on your beliefs. 4. Religious experiences on the internet aren’t as spiritual or personal as they would be in person or in a place of worship (church/temple/etc.).
An Ever-Growing Trend Religion and social media are both about relationships, whether it be with God, the community or between individuals. Social communities evolve over time through the people within them as the culture they are emerged is influenced by new variables. Social media altogether has acted as a mobilizer for a cultural shift within modern society that has fostered the presentation of the “online self vs the offline self”. This contrast of identity has opened a window in which an individual can distinctly express their religiosity in ways traditional media, such as newspaper and television, and traditional religious group contact lack the potentiality to facilitate. Some people have apprehensions that aspects of social media replace the role of established religion and negatively affect religion through “ adaptations of traditions, challenges to authority and re-negotiations of meaning.” However, rather than simply rejecting the ever-growing trend of social media, many religious communities have responded by shaping and fostering growth in their communities’ online engagement. For example; prayer networking apps, religious discussion forums, and news/media sharing websites. For Judaism, Christianity, Islam and more, social media has been utilized to cultivate discussion and connectivity within communities in ways like never before. Whether it be through a blog dedicated to teaching religious text or a religion-specific dating website, social media has allowed for an entirely new era of digitally-integrated relationships that is continuously growing as society technologically advances.
Conclusion Despite the cons that have to do with sharing religion on social media websites, we see that there more advantages than disadvantages. The level of communication that occurs through different religious communities is incredible. I believe that social media has an immense effect on religion and it would not be the shared and expressed the same if it wasnâ€™t for the help of social media. Sharing religion on social media websites has become extremely popular because itâ€™s easily accessible, you can reach out to a larger audience, and actively engage religiously (praying/meditating/reading religious texts). Social media has evolved religion and advanced the way we can learn, teach, and experience it as a whole.
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