Thursday, November 10, 2016

Religious Authenticity

My entry this week has to do with religious authenticity. Most religions we have in our culture are deeply rooted in history and tradition, authenticating the legitimacy of their rules and regulations when it comes to how people practice them. This notion spans a wide variety of aspects of the way people live their lives, and the internet is no different. The internet can be a very volatile and wide open space that can be exploited to fulfill any desire; so when it comes to religion, the internet can be a challenging area for religious leaders to influence the way their followers interact with it. In my opinion, because of the lack of formal religious based law, religious leaders of all religions use their culture, tradition, and apparent authority to merely influence the behavior of their followers. That being said, religious-minded people tend to treat the "rules" of their faith to dictate every aspect of their lives, including online interactions. People tend to project their beliefs online, and some even exaggerate them. The problem therein lies in accountability. When someone is online, there isn't anyone to regulate what they say or do, so it is easy for someone to be either an exaggerated version of themselves or even someone else entirely. It isn't hard for someone to take the ideas and belief system they learned from their offline interactions with religion, and use the web as an amplifier. The contemporary rise in the influence of the internet has had a tremendous impact on the offline aspects of religion. The internet and how to interact with it is something totally new to religious leaders and it is definitely changing how people interact with religion in their daily lives. I think the offline and online contexts are definitely in a blended state. It is becoming difficult to draw the line between what is okay for people involved with religion to do online, and what isn't. There seems to be a ton of overlap between the two, judging from what I've seen specifically in the online RPGs where someone can make an avatar and legitimately practice whatever religion they want without actually ever practicing in real life. But then comes the problem of who has the right to legitimize online religious activities. The case of online vs offline religious authority proves to be a challenging one.

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