Nobody wants to go to church anymore because it’s so long and boring. Worship around the globe is decreasing. Atheism is the fastest growing religion in America, 20 per cent of Europeans are non-religious and secularism is globally growing. Religion often has a negative association in liberal/left communities as being preachy, unrealistic and unscientific. Criticized for being unsophisticated, sexist, homophobic and racist, religion isn’t a part of a big portion of people’s lives anymore. The hyper-awareness of evils groups have done in the name of religion has moved countless away from religion. Religious communities with toxic environments force people into secularism or atheism. Still, religious texts are some of the oldest documents in the world. On TikTok, religion hasn’t yet left the building and religious discussion grows.
Though organized religion has negative assocations, spirituality is abundant online. On TikTok, countless users encourage meditation. Hundreds of videos implore the viewer to find the higher self. Creators implore viewers to become in touch with the universe. Despite the prevalence of new-age spirituality, there’s still a huge lack of organized religion mentioned on the application. During Ramadan, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, users discuss their traditions, foods and culture.
Religious Studies in A Minute
Prof Gray, a professor at the University of Miami, uses the platform to spread educational messages about religion.
Well-versed, unbiased and honest, followers flock to him. He’s open to discussion and constantly hosts lives, discussing religion. Of course, as a professor, he comes from an academic background with academic intentions. So, most of his videos aren’t spiritual or personal. His videos focus more on the history and traditions of religion around the world. His calm, kindness and understanding are such a great example for how people, religious or irreligious can carry themselves.
Pastors, gurus, rabbis, imams and religious scholars have popped up on TikTok to discuss their various texts. Often wanting to portray their religion in as good a light as possible, text analysis is common. Interpretation and study of text is vital, as interpretation has historically always been used to validate harmful behaviour. These creators know that their viewers are probably young and want to feel good. They know listeners don’t want to feel bashed or shamed. The language used is calm, peaceful and understanding.
You and religion
Integrating religion or spirituality onto your feed obviously isn’t necessary. But, religion and spirituality are fundamentally integrated into virtually all societies. Having spirituality in your media diet can create balance and harmony in your life and create bonds with others. TikTok’s platform provides dozens of well-researched videos on religion to begin learning. It can help one connect with a religion they didn’t know about. Also, it can help melt away walls that people may feel between different religions. Religion’s presence on your feed is a great way of learning about other cultures and traditions.
Millions of people around the world are religious and millions of these people use social media. Religion or religious affiliation is a great way to humanize yourself. Obviously, using religion just to make yourself more likeable is weird, creepy and contradicts the point of spirituality. People want to be surrounded by authenticity, and many look down on religious fetishization. Learning more about religion and discussing it or integrating it into your posts humanizes you. Having hints of religious affiliation on your page can benefit both you and your followers.
Including Spirituality in Your Page
Rarely discussed online, in typical cyber marketplaces, is religion. Influencers rarely discuss it. Cooking channels, fashion channels, political channels avoid discussing spirituality, even when its integral to or influential in all these worlds. People rarely want to get that personal, and, in America, secularity is prized in public figures for creating a safer image. Sometimes it feels embarrassing or too emotional to discuss online. A lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about their religion because there might be negative connotations with it. As we become closer to one another with globalization spreading online, more people are welcoming towards other customs and cultures. Bigotry is unacceptable online. Embracing religion online is another way of developing a fuller online image.
Religious abuse is rampant in virtually all religious communities, whether the communities want to acknowledge this or not. I feel really uncomfortable talking about religion sometimes because of this, despite being close to my own spirituality. But, I understand others might have very negative or unsafe feelings about religion. I think a lot of religious skepticism is due to religious communities bringing out unsafe, uncomfortable and shameful feelings. When I talk about religion, I always keep in mind that many haven’t had positive experiences. I try to be considerate of these feelings. I would feel the biggest weight, like I’m inserting myself and my beliefs onto another person if I insist someone’s experiences with religious abuse are wrong.
Religion is a tricky subject to conquer because of this. There are billions of people with positive and negative experiences with religion. Forcing belief on your followers throat will hurt them and you. But, finding a balance between including it in your online persona and demanding it of others is a clear distinction to be made.
Feature image by Aaron Burden for UNSPLASH.COM