Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blog 5 - Authenticity Online

How does offline religious culture and political culture set the basis or create standards for what should be considered authentic expressions online?

There are several ways in which offline religious culture sets the standard for what is considered to be authentic online. For example, in many churches, authority members such as pastors and priests set the tone for what is acceptable on and offline. Youth pastors can be especially important when helping young men and women decipher what to post online so that they are consistent and reflective of the way they carry themselves offline. In addition, many pastors or authority figures in churches hold their own social media accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Even Pope Francis has nearly 10 million followers on Twitter, where he tweets out inspiring words and prayers each day. By leading an example of how to act offline and what to post online, followers of the church will observe and mirror authority figures’ authentic patterns.

On the other hand, political authenticity online is a bit more difficult to shape. As seen in political speeches and on TV advertisements, often time’s political figures aim to tear their opposing candidates down in order to lift themselves up. Attack commercial advertisements and physical flyers exemplify the way that politicians set the tone for what is “authentic” offline, which thus sets the standard for “online” authenticity. Because of this, the vast majority of political discourse that can be found on the Internet is degrading and demeaning to opposing candidates. This is perfectly illustrated through two Republican Jesus memes below:

In the first meme, current President-elect Donald Trump is directly referenced by the mention of the "wall" that he proposed to build along the United States/Mexico border. The second photo references Socialism, another political/economic theory. These photos take an authoritative figure like Jesus Christ, who sets the highest standard for what is considered to be “authentic” and turns it into negative political discourse.

Are the online and offline contexts broke-away, bridged, blended or blurred?

The online and offline context of the first meme is somewhat broken-away. Although the first Republican Jesus meme references Donald Trump, it doesn’t specifically mention anything biblical. However, the second meme does connect a political ideal and a biblical reference, which bridges the online/offline contexts that exist here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Blog 4 - Authority Online

Religious authority can be defined through hierarchy/roles (priests, rabbis), structure (denominations), ideologies (faith beliefs and shared identities) or texts (Torah, the Bible, etc.). These different definitions of authority can also be used to frame authoritative religious figures/ideals online.

The two photos below share a similar theme, alluding to the Republican/Conservative view that all people should work towards success and should not be given handouts.

Jesus is the clear source of authority in these photos and is referred to both implicitly and explicitly. The meme creator references Jesus explicitly because He is clearly depicted as a leader in these photos. He is also referenced implicitly because, through the clearly important presence he holds in the photos, viewers of the meme can infer that Jesus often times offers words of advice and encouragement to his many loyal followers.

Jesus as a source of authority emerges from offline context through the meme creator pulling from direct biblical references. This is shown in several books (for example, Matthew, Luke and Mark) when Jesus speaks to the masses and gives them advice.

I feel as though there are two types of logic taking place through these photos.
1)                     Logic of Disjuncture and Displacement - these photos definitely "disturb the status quo" by taking a sacred biblical reference (not to mention a sacred biblical figure aka Jesus) and turning it something negative
2)                    Logic of Dialectics and Paradox - because the internet "creates conflicting tensions" by taking something very special and challenging the value behind it.

The way Jesus is framed as an authority figure through these photos further employs the idea that the creator behind these memes has the intention of promoting a negative perception of Conservatism/Republicanism. By using Jesus to discuss current social/economic/political issues, the meme creator directly influences the current election in order to sway the public’s votes.