As Holy Week, a significant religious time for many Christians, begins today on Palm Sunday, and coincides with Passover, a major religious observance for Jews, I want to explore what role faith, religion and spirituality play on the web, and, eventually, to address the question of where such personal topics belong in the formation of your online identify, and personal brand. How much should you divulge about your personal or spiritual life through your social media accounts? To prepare, I started to search the terms “web-based,” “online” and “faith and religion.” I also found a video on YouTube demonstrating how to make Palm Crosses, a technique I have yet to master.
At the top of my Google search appeared the Church of Reality – an entirely web-based religion. In the time between starting this post and publishing it the site went down. Very strange….I’m leaving it in the post because it had lots of content about its unique approach to faith and religion.
A few more search results down the page I discovered Belief Blog, a CNN sponsored blog on all things religion in the news – a topic they found that readers wanted to read more about so they launched a blog focused on the topic in 2010.
The Washington Post also launched a religious blog simply called “On Faith,” where the tag line reads,a forum for news and opinion on religion and politics. How interesting that a newspaper such as The Washington Post, based at the epicenter of American politics would link those two words? Weren’t they so clearly separated in our Constitution? It turns out that they were not. You can read more about thathere.
As I continued to scroll through the first three pages of results for the search terms “faith online” it occurred to me that only Christian based religions had a presence. Muslims often talk about faith as well as Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, etc…so why do only Christian based religions appear on the first three pages? By the way, 90% of people conducting online searches do not review what lies beyond page 3, according to Tech-Seeker.com.
Along the way I made a disturbing discovery via aFox News article entitled,“Millenials Increasingly Find Their Faith Online,”by Lauren Green. The article explains that 72% of millenials (a millenial is an adult between the ages of 18 and 30) claim to be more spiritual than religious and that technology is fueling the disconnect between and them and their church. I find this disturbing because technology use is only going to increase from generation to generation – not decrease. Millenials on the older side of the age range have been less exposed to technology than the 18-year old segment of the generation. It will be terrible if people continue to move away from their faith as a result of technology. What if people resorted to web-based confessions or observing their faith through the web versus going to church, mass, or the Sabbath in person. Can you imagine getting an email 5 times a day for adhan (call to prayer) instead of hearing the sound piped through the loudspeakers of a minaret?
What does all this mean?
As my family and I come to the end of our Lenten fast and enter into Holy Week I will continue to blog about the topic of faith until Easter. I’ll share my thoughts and those of other experts about how much to divulge when discussing or sharing your personal beliefs online through blog posts, newsletters and social media accounts. Remember, once it’s out there on the web, it’s out there. Until then take a look at
God.com. Before you do, stop and think about what you are expecting to see?
Whatever you believe–online or off–have a blessed week.