Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 5 - More Investigations in Lived Religion in Social Media

In this week of blogging, I will continue to explore the construct of religion on Twitter by examining the posts of various Catholic users. First up on my observation list will be my good friend, Caity Tarrabocchia. She identifies as Catholic, and is a user of Twitter.

https://twitter.com/caitybug3

Perusing her recent tweets, I quickly came across one referencing scripture. She states, "Romans 5:8-9 made my day so much brighter." Through this tweet, Caity is expressing her enjoyment of scripture and also sharing Bible verses with all of her followers.
The next tweet I found having to do with religion states, "Crazy that we sweat the small stuff when this guy had his body nailed to a cross for us to even breathe," with a link to a picture of Jesus Christ. Caity is obviously tweeting about Jesus's passion when he died on the cross to save all of humanity. She is using Twitter to express what really matters to her, which is Jesus Christ. She uses this social media platform to express her belief in Jesus and share that belief with her followers.
Looking back to Caity's tweets from June, I found one with a direct scripture quote from the gospel of according to Luke. Caity tweeted this verse and shared it with her followers. She uses Twitter to express her religion and share it with others. She is conveying the message that her religion is a rock that grounds her, and she wants others to know the satisfaction and peace she gets from her faith.

Next up for analysis is Ennie Hickman, a proclaimed Catholic and speaker.

https://twitter.com/ennie4

Ennie's most recent tweet reads, "God needs us to be okay with simply loving people without quantifying its success." Two tweets from not long before that one read, "We want to give advice. Jesus wants to give love," and "When we fail, God doesn't call us out. He calls us to supper." The majority of his tweets have some sort of religious content. Ennie offers his own insight and thoughts on religious ideas. He speaks of forgiveness and love. Ennie's tweets express his own thoughts and reflections as well as speak to his followers and offer challenges to live a certain way. Ennie's message conveyed through Twitter is that religion should challenge one to live differently and that religion is for everyone.

Lastly, I will look at the Twitter account of Cardinal Dolan, a cardinal to the Catholic Church and archbishop of New York.

https://twitter.com/CardinalDolan

Looking at his tweets, this first one I found containing religious content discusses the importance and struggle of prayer. The next religious laden tweet I found states, "The way, the truth, and the life. It's not a thing or a concept, but a person: Jesus Christ." He also quotes a scripture verse about judgment in one of his most recent tweets. Cardinal Dolan works for the Catholic Church; part of his intention for his Twitter account is most likely to evangelize for the Church. He offers his own advice, insight, and reflection on Church teaching. Cardinal Dolan has over 138,00 followers. The three tweets I mentioned have a combined total of over 800 retweets; people are responding positively to Cardinal Dolan. Interestingly, only one of the tweets I mentioned had comments following it. This is quite a contrast from the Pope's tweets which all receive a plethora of comments. Cardinal Dolan is not quite as popular as the Pope, however, so this does make some sense. The comments that I read on Cardinal Dolan's tweet about prayer were much more positive than the comments I read on the Pope's tweets. Most of the comments to Cardinal Dolan were stating personal opinions and preferences about prayer. The people that follow Cardinal Dolan seem to gain encouragement and insight from the tweets of Cardinal Dolan. Cardinal Dolan offers theological insight and information.

The platform of Twitter offers a place to reach many people. Tweeters can receive feedback to their posts and also see how many people they are reaching as well as who they are reaching by examining who is retweeting and following them. Twitter also keeps users at a safe distance from other users. Some people may follow people or have followers who they have never met before. Because of this, tweeters can be more bold about what they say. There is no fear of actually coming face to face with the people that read their tweets. This can cause tweeters to say things they might not normally say in person. People who are skittish about talking about religious topics in person might have more courage to say these things online. This also eliminates the personal touch of face to face interaction, which is a useful tool in evangelization. This could make Twitter less useful in evangelization. Also, if users cannot get people to follow them, they may not get the gratification they are looking for in expressing their religion to others through Twitter. The 180 character limit also presents a challenge in expressing oneself.


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