Monday, November 18, 2013

Network Religion

Within religion being online, there are some traits called Network Religion that can be identified on every platform and every environment that the internet has provided for this religion to act on. For my study of prayer on Facebook there is one of the traits from Network Religion that really sticks out to me and that is Network Community. The Network Community is the 'idea of network religion... emerges within a distinctive social sphere constructed of networked interactions" and it forms an online community (Campbell, p. 5). This trait has the idea around it that members of a certain platform or website can come together to create an online community being involved and getting to know other people. Though it can go deeper to see how people function offline as well, but my study does not go as deep as that does. My study looking at people all over the world coming together online, I have no way to prove how it can affect them offline. We can see though that the loose social boundaries set up on both of my sites allow anyone to join the group as long as they follow the rules that are set up by the director of the page. Even though the site itself is has loose boundaries, people have made the site fit their needs and they have give a few rules to play by so the community if formed around a few basic rules. An example from my case study that I have been looking into is that when people post on the wall, non are left unlike or uncommented upon. They have been a support group for anyone who has posted on the wall. The people who also post feel open enough to give updates and reports on how their prayer request is turning out. The community of back and forth conversation is encouraging to people who see the post and want to feel welcomed into the group as well.
Storied Identity is another trait that I can see being played out in the group. It is not as strong, but people that post on this Facebook pages are finding who they are and finding themselves in a group that has supporters for them. People that feel alone need someone to talk to and the group being open to anyone posting about anything needing prayer, you can see that a person could find themselves at peace, togetherness and in some senses a family. This are just a few traits that are brought up in the Network Religion, and we could probably find a little of each of the 5 network religion theories in every platform. But Network Community and Storied Identity is two of the strongest ones that I can tell from my observations.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I will be researching and understanding how Facebook users use Facebook as a social group, living out a form of lived religion, prayer. Focusing more directly at how group prayer is lived out of Facebook, the way people are creating a new context for community by the way they lean on each other for support. Prayer in this context is focused on the wording and the openness that the group has towards one another and how they have leaned on each other for support with their problems. There are over two thousand people in each of the groups that I have been looking at and the reason that they are all on this one page is interesting. The belief in the power of prayer that is formed by the number of people asking for prayer on each of these groups, gives the assumption that if you post on this site your prayers will be seen and answered. Some of the strategies that I have used for looking at this case study is how frequent they ask for prayer, is there any praise, and what are the like and comment number on each post. I find these few questions help me understand who post, why they post and how often they post. People that seem to post more often are people who seem to get more likes or comments on their update that they post. So people post more often than others because they provide updates on their families or ask for continuing prayer. Why they post, well everyone has a prayer that needs to be answered and seeing people getting a response from other Facebookers give them hope that someone is listening and they feel like their prayer will be answered when they post. The way people write is always changing as well. Some people still keep it like a personal prayer to God and others act like they are talking to a group. Which one is better in the situation, could depend on how formal the group is or how the person feels comfortable to post and approach the group. With the examples that I have given before, I hope to show that this new community of prayer groups on Facebook as given people a place to request for prayer even if they do not have a home church.