Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Networked Religion--Twitter and Catholicism

My case study focused on lived religion within the realm of Twitter. The research question for this study was what is the role of religious narratives created on Twitter by Catholics?

The trait of networked religion that is seen most clearly in this study is storied identities. The concept of storied identities states that identity is enacted through personal process of self-identification and negotiation online. Twitter has provided an opportunity for Catholics to express their belief and faith online. This leads to highly personalized religion. This is seen most clearly in a tweet by Ennie Hickman that reads, “When we fail, God doesn’t call us out. He calls us to supper.” This tweet contains no doctrine of explicit theology from Catholicism. It is simply a personal reflection on the love and acceptance of God. This belief that Ennie is expressing contributes to his own Catholic identity. He sees God as forgiving and accepting. Through the religious narratives created on Twitter, Catholics are able to personalize their faith and more readily apply their religion to their own lives. Twitter has become a space for Catholics to express ideas and broadcast sundry interpretations and reflections on religion. Within this Twitter realm, Catholic identity is being shaped and enhanced in individuals. Twitter provides a space for the processing and negotiation of religious ideas. In order to compose tweets containing religious content, Twitter users must first reflect on their own religious beliefs and faith. They can choose what to say in their Tweets, and they can also choose which users they will follow. They can both compose religious tweets and read religious tweets of other Twitter users. Through this process of participating in religious discussion and communication on Twitter, these individuals create and reshape their own identities that begin in Catholicism in the real world. Their Catholic identity that was likely grown and shaped within a Catholic church is enhanced and possibly negotiated through the process of living out religion on Twitter.

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