It is necessary to acknowledge the importance of social media platforms for religions. These platforms have reunited people of faith; social media platforms have mobilized religious movements, inspired doctrines, influenced cultures, and transform traditions. Nevertheless, we have become naive about the dark side of the use of these social media platforms. Social media has its Pros and Cons, and religions are taking advantage of all of that. In case someone ever wondered who the bad guys are, the bad guys are not social media platforms. Let us find out.
Most certainly, every creator of any particular social media platform never intended for it to be harmful but to facilitate communication, connection, and humanity’s expansion. Many experts allude to mental health problems on social media platforms; they believe social media’s influence also shapes the political world.
Popular culture is now becoming a social media’s puppet. The world religions are moving from information to disinformation, from orthodoxy to heresy, from faith to feelings, from doctrine to trendiness, and from the bible to government policies, driven by social media. On whom should we lay this blame? The creators of the tools? Or the operators? or maybe the users’ understanding? Can we admit that social media platforms are starting to become threats to every contemporary religion’s original fabrics?
In this short article, let us focus on the creators of social media platforms and the operators. This article is written in the world of COVID19.
A Blind Eye
There is a problem happening with Social Media and Religions. By now, social media platforms embrace their reputation for polarisation, misinformation, data scandals, and election influence. Still, we tend to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of social media and religions.
Social media, at its core, is meant to be addictive for its benefits. They cannot design social media platforms any less addictive. Positively, from a marketing and business perspective, it makes sense that anyone would design a business product to attract customers as much as they can. These products we buy every day are designed so we would need them.
Somebody smart would allege that there is nothing wrong with any particular social media platform; the concerns lie in its use. The murderer is not the person who made a gun, no. The murderer is the one who uses a gun to murder someone. Think of it this way; social media platforms are riffles, sometimes unequivocally found in the hands of wrong people. The wrong people are the people we have entrusted with our faith/beliefs. Social media platforms now dangerously lie in the hands of religious leaders and individuals who are falsely indoctrinating people with irreligious ideologies; brainwashing people with false teachings.
Social Media… a conduit for Religion
Social media platforms are prominent tools to the world religions, especially in the 21st century. These platforms serve the world religions impressively well and even far better than the political world. The best tools of evangelization are social media platforms. Think of that celebrity religious influencer; think of a trendy religious social media page or that megachurch. Now ask this, how many times have they always been theologically correct with what they share?
Social media platforms have become a conduit through which false teachings of religion are getting publicized. Social media platforms are now a giant megaphone spreading heresy, false teachings, religious extremisms, and emotional dependency. Emotionalism is the central theme of religious evangelization on social media. Christianity would be a perfect candidate to introduce as an example of false teaching on social media.
Churches on Social Media
Your favorite megachurch or your favorite preacher has a social media account, and why shouldn’t they? Duh. Now you have fallen into the trap of liking every content they share on social media. You give your undivided time to watch and listen to anything they share on social media. Do you ever ask yourself whether their contents are theologically correct or you do not care?
Most preachers and churches share content on their social media platforms not to bless followers but to stay relevant on the internet. Your favorite preachers or Megachurches share so many contents not because the spirit inspired them to share such. They share this content because they compete for your attention, emotions, support, time, and for you to follow. They want to stay relevant on the internet. Churches are not providing products; you are the product.
Continue Reading: How Christians Should Be Sharing on Social Media
Some churches’ online presence is not about inspiring their followers or sharing the good news as Christianity’s primary mundane. Churches are using their online presence to attract more followers and entertain people. They are using thoughts and emotionally provoking content to attract new members. Smaller churches are now using social media to gain more members, and bigger churches use social media to stay relevant. Ever wondered why churches run advertisements on social media? Well, welcome to the new world marketplace, and this marketplace trades exclusively in human faith empowered by social media.
This religious marketplace has made megachurches bigger and more prosperous, and the smaller churches significant on the internet. Do you know your favorite megachurch shares content on social media based on your social media engagement? It is the algorithm and artificial intelligence manipulated by megachurches based on unauthorized surveyed data. They know how to trigger your spiritual emotions.
Don’t Get It Twisted.
Now do not take this the wrong way. Christian religion utilizing social media is not bad; social media connects the religious community, but sometimes a good thing can also be perverted. There is always going to be one to abuse it. Christian organizations in the digital world are more preoccupied with branding rather than people and the gospel. What is your church selling online? Is your church evangelizing the gospel, or are they advertising for members? Could your church be competing with other churches? Is your celebrity worship leader passionate about God, or its just signing career and popularity?
‘Machine Learning’ is a technical term used to define artificial intelligence’s flexibility (AI). AI keeps getting better and smarter. Algorithms are the agents of artificial intelligence, and algorithms are embedded in codes, and individuals optimize them. Religious organizations or individuals can then utilize these tools to inspire people or indoctrinate people. Algorithms facilitate the possibility to have people addicted to social media browsing for their favorite religious content. The need is not for you to be inspired but to keep you engaged, keeping your liking, viewing, and sharing content.
Artificial Intelligence vs. Humans
Indeed, humans cannot compete against artificial intelligence. With artificial intelligence (AI) built-in these social media platforms, this technology has already recorded your behavior pattern. This technology knows more about your emotions than you know yourself. Artificial intelligence technology knows about your religious stand, beliefs, faith, and worship music style more than you know yourself. The AI knows the type of short sermons and quotes that you like. This system knows your favorite worship band and your favorite pastor.
Have you ever noticed that your news feed and video feed on Facebook rolls out contents of similar categories? Have you ever noticed that you get advertisements about religious things of the same classification? Furthermore, that is why churches, religious organizations, and individuals would not stop pumping out contents.
Now Chill Out.
No, the Russians are not spying on you. The artificial intelligence built-in your tech devices and social media platforms record your pattern creates a report, and provides tailored results for you. So now the system knows you so well that it dictates your life. The system now feeds you the type of information that would never contradict your news feeds or what you are already fed. The MIT study shows that fake news spread six times faster on Twitter, which now equates this statistic to irreligious ideologies spreading online.
The Christian community might be getting bigger and even more divided. Social media has the tools to destabilize the foundation of religion and indoctrinate others. Now religious organizations and individuals are using those tools to their advantage. These tools are like remote controls, and those in power are using them to brainwash people with fake religious ideologies.
Let us not demonize the makers of social media platforms. We need to be grateful for such technological innovations. These computers will keep getting smarter and faster. Artificial intelligence will keep developing, but that is not the problem. The problem lies in the hands of those who are manipulating social media platforms to benefit from us and using people as products to advance their false religious stands.