16 Religion Online Facebook. The researchers found that viewing or listening to religious con- tent from the media made the students feel (a) inspired, (b) happy, (c) closer to God, and (d) positive and focused. Many respondents reported that receiv- ing faith-based content from the media helped them to achieve their need to be focused and positive (Nduka & McGuire, 2017). Indeed, for some, creat- ing and sharing religious content can become a religious ritual that helps bring them closer to a higher being. Facebook also has the potential to pro- vide users with access to religious resources, including supportive commun- ities and spiritual guidance (Brubaker & Haigh, 2017). Twitter Religion and Twitter might not be the most obvious pairing, but with the pope on Twitter, clearly there are many implementing this platform for the spreading of the gospel. Affordances of Twitter include community building through hashtags and the microblogging format with character limits. The ease of finding related individuals who share similar interests on Twitter— regardless of your relationship to them—grants religious consumers the power to find and communicate with others of their faith. Building a follow- ing, as well as joining one, ties into religious needs as religiosity and com- munity are integrally linked (see the following section). Amy O’Leary (2012) of the New York Times wrote about an informal study done using Twitter to understand the viral nature of tweets. In this study, analysts at Twitter found surprising patterns of engagement where lesser- known accounts (those who were not A-list celebrities, athletes, or musi- cians) received dramatic levels of retweets from smaller followings. O’Leary describes: Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado, and Andy Stanley were not well known inside Twitter’s offices. But they had all built loyal ranks of followers well beyond their social networks—they were evangelical Christian leaders whose inspirational messages of God’s love perform about 30 times as well as Twitter messages from pop culture powerhouses like Lady Gaga. (O’Leary, 2012, para. 4) As it turns out, these smaller accounts were run by evangelical Chris- tians—such as pastors—who have built followings on Twitter with phenom- enal engagement ratios. While many see Twitter as a platform for the opinions of pop culture voices such as professional athletes, actors, or politicians, Twitter accounts within the Christian community were finding higher levels of success. Though smaller, these followings were devoted to their Christian leaders and more willing to engage with their tweets through likes and retweets than were larger followings. Key to this devotion from the fans is
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