Sunday, October 27, 2013

Final Thoughts

Through my research over the last several weeks, I have enjoyed observing how Christians use Instagram to perform their religion in their daily lives. I have discovered many different ways that they go about doing this. The three most common ways that I have encountered in my research were through the posting of bible verses, posting pictures with captions asking for prayer, and through pictures of users interacting with religion through their hobbies, namely art. From my observations throughout this case study, my research question has been edited, refined, and has ended up here:

"This case study will explore how Christians create or act out religion in their daily lives in the context of Instagram through the use of symbols and images measured by the examination of their posts and how others respond to them."

            Through my focus on Christian users, one of the things I have noticed is that when they post something, it is aimed towards others Christians; their audience is intended to be other believers. With posts of bible verses, prayer requests, and their art, it is evident that they believe the importance of what they have posted will resonate greatest with other Christians. Other believers will be able to relate to or be encouraged by the post. They may even respond, or in the case of the users asking for prayer, interact with the user and take action to pray for them. While a non-Christian would probably not look at the post and be confused or offended by it, they may just not regard it as significant.
            Another trend I have noticed through the examples I have chosen is that each post is a reflection of the user’s personal interaction with the Lord. Through a bible verse, it is a display of what that user has been reading or a verse that they have come across that they have found particular helpful for their life at that time. By asking for prayer, it displays that they have a faith in something that goes beyond themselves and have acknowledged the need for God’s power to intervene. And lastly, by posting pictures of art created the user it illustrates how they are spending their time and the hobbies that they choose to take part in and how they relate that to their relationship with God. They are choosing to incorporate their identity as a Christian into other aspects of their lives.
            I have discussed before how Instagram allows for geographical barriers to be crossed and can connect people from all over the world. I believe that in some form, Christians that use Instagram to perform their daily religion are seeking or giving encouragement from others believers. Through posting bible verses, prayer requests, pictures of art, and interacting with other believers through them, they are sending the message to others that they believe in the importance of Christian community. Whether they are sharing a bible verse that has helped them or are asking for prayer in a specific situation, they are communicating with other Christians. Through “likes” and comments on the photos, users can be encouraged that they are not alone and have that community surrounding them.

In summary, the results of this case study illustrate that Instagram serves as a forum for Christians to engage in community and give and receive encouragement to one another. 

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