Posting, Sharing, and Religious Testifying 15 and obligatory, it is the values of the group that are revealed. I see in the study of rituals the key to an understanding of the essential constitution of human societies” (p. 6). Through the study of how religious rites and rituals are becoming the norm online, in traditionally “secular” mediums, this chap- ter describes how rituals perform communicative purposes as a type of communication. Facebook As of mid-2018, Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world, containing 1.5 billion active users with at least 900 million daily users (Ryan et al., 2014). More than 71 percent of American adolescents ages 13 to 17 regularly use Facebook, while 68 percent of adults are Facebook users (Smith & Anderson, 2018 Beyens, Frison, & Eggermont, 2016). Face- book offers a unique space where people can socialize with each other online and share what is important to them. One topic that has been gaining trac- tion is the rise of religiosity in online contexts. There are various ways in which religiosity is expressed on Facebook, including by sharing inspira- tional quotes from well-known church leaders, performing various methods of missionary work, sharing memes featuring religious content, or even devoting entire pages to people who have passed away (Brubaker, Boyle, & Stephan, 2017 Brubaker & Haigh, 2017 Irwin, 2015). Facebook “memorial pages,” as they are called, are one example of a reli- gious ritual that has developed exclusively online. Through a content analy- sis of memorial pages on Facebook, Irwin (2015) explored how individuals have “transcended the limitations of time and physical space in relation to traditional bereavement behavior and rituals” (p. 119). She identified several different categories of these that demonstrate the existence of a continuous bond between the deceased and those they left behind: “guidance from beyond and reunion with the deceased,” “messages and visitations from the deceased,” and “conversations with the deceased.” She placed these categories under the rubric of “paranormal copresence,” which she uses to explain the array of individual experiences—some ordinary and some extraordinary— that loved ones feel, including “sensing” the copresence of the deceased (Irwin, 2015). She concluded that “it is through these rituals and memorials that we hope to provide a potentially everlasting meaning to their lives and perhaps make sense of our own” (Irwin, 2015, 144). Religious content online is often hard to swallow because it can be so polarizing. However, for some faithful members, social media serves as an extension of their religious life that allows them to practice their religion throughout the week instead of only on the weekend. Nduka and McGuire (2017) conducted a series of interviews with religious college students, ask- ing about their perception and experience of seeing religious content on
Previous Page Next Page