Monday, December 2, 2013

Storied Identity in Instagram

My case study was about the use of the hashtag, “blessed” on Instagram. This study was aimed at looking at the ways that individuals are expressing lived religion in their lives and whether or not they intended for religious meaning or secular meaning to be drawn from the ways they were posting. This case study revealed a heavy emphasis on “storied identity”, which Campbell identifies as acknowledging “that while identity construction is a process lived out online and offline and mirrors the understanding that while people often play with multiple identities, there is still often a push to unify them.” (Pg. 11). This shows that people have multiple aspects of their identities that can be very unique from each other. However, storied identity says that these forms of identity can be melded together to make the whole identity of the individual.  The people that I studied were using social media to construct an image of themselves through the picture and words that they posted. While one post can only reveal one part of the person’s identity, a lot can be gathered about what they think about certain things as well as what they value from one post. For example, one user posted “blessed” as well as the terms “cleaning” and “offday”. Through this, different parts of this man’s identity are revealed. He values the time off he has from his job, and enjoys the accomplishment that cleaning brings. These two terms add to his feeling of being blessed. However, that is only my interpretation of the post. Others could analyze it in a different way, which adds to the idea that use religious words, such as blessed, in a fluid way. They can mean that they feel happy or they can mean that they actually feel blessed. The bottom line is lived religion is growing through the various ways that a person can now express themselves.

Campbell, H. A. (2012). Understanding the Relationship between Religion Online and Offline in a Networked Society. Journal Of The American Academy Of Religion, 80(1), 64-93.

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