I have chosen to study how individuals that claim themselves as Christians use Instagram in their daily religious devotion through observing pictures that are posted and the captions associated with them. This past week, I observed many examples of this. Instagram allows its users a unique opportunity to express their creativity through pictures. While sharing pictures allows the user to get their point across without necessarily having to use words, some users choose to post pictures of words, but how those words are displayed has more significance than you may think. In my observations this week, I came across three examples that were all pictures of bible verses in some form. One picture was of a passage from a daily devotional book called Jesus Calling. Another picture was a handwritten bible verse in a journal. The last picture was a typed bible verse that was part of a computer-generated image. All of these pictures expressed a bible verse or passage. While the common similarity between the three posts is very apparent, there are some contrasts in the contexts of which they were posted.
In the first example, the passage from the book was a repost from an Instagram user actually called Jesus Calling who solely posts the daily passages from the book. The user reposted this image in order to encourage other believers to slow down for a minute and remember that God is in control. The passage talked about giving your plans to the Lord, and the caption read, “A little glimpse of peace in the midst of your unknown.” In this example, the user took a translated passage and, through the use of a caption, gave a hint of how it had affected her while also making it relatable to her followers.
The second example was a handwritten bible verse written on a page in an open journal. With a caption that reads, “My morning in a nutshell,” we can tell that this picture illustrates the user’s personal interaction with the bible verse. She took a simple verse and chose to write it out in fancy handwriting. The specific significance this verse had on the user is not clarified, but a follower can easily see that this verse must have impacted the user that morning and she was sharing it in hopes that it might encourage someone else.
The third example is a typed verse that is placed in front of a computer-generated background. The caption says, “Coming this Sunday- YOU do not want to miss it.” This particular verse was posted to foreshadow a largely anticipated upcoming sermon series at a church. It was meant to encourage the church members in their daily walk leading up to Sunday so that they would be excited about what was to come. The user selected a verse and applied it to a selected audience, and through Instagram, so many more people beyond the church’s membership were able to see the photo.
All three of the previous examples involve the use of bible verses in the users’ Instagram posts. All three are an illustration of religion being played out in their daily lives as part of their daily religious devotional. All were meant to encourage fellow believers in some way. This upcoming week I am interested to observe more examples of how Christians interact and use Instagram and explore, once again, their purpose.