Friday, October 28, 2016

Blog 3 - Community Online

This week we focused on "community online". As users establish their identities online, they begin to identify others with similar identities, and thus form a community. These online communities widely vary when it comes to member participation, content, and whether or not members can connect outside of the world wide web as well. Some examples of online communities would be fan-made celebrity websites or RuneScape, which is a virtual medieval world where players can interact, explore and challenge other players.

Religious communities also exist online. Churches, synagogues and other religious communities across the country often "live stream" their services so members who can't attend in person are still able to participate. Although this option provides convenience for members who are unable to attend, or simply don't want to get out of bed that morning, one has to consider the negative benefits. Can involvement in an "online" community as opposed to an "offline" community create a disconnect between members and their spirituality?

Two photos from my case study help me to explain the bridging, blending and blurring between online and offline communities.

The above photo is an example of bridging between an online and offline community. The meme creator took a biblical reference and linked it with a perceived conservative characteristic.

This second photo also uses a bridging strategy. In the bible, Jesus feeds the poor by handing out loaves of bread. This photo does not mention a specific part of the bible or verse, but it alludes to something Jesus would do. The meme creator then links the biblical reference with another perceived Republican ideal.

For the most part, my collection of memes reflects bridging of online and offline communities. By bridging together Christian & Republican references, the creator of these memes can attempt to persuade viewers to perceive republicanism in a negative way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Blog 2 - Identity Online

Hi there! Today in class we learned about online identities. With the large variety of virtual networks that exist online, such as Second Life, Twitter and YouTube, comes the opportunity to create an online identity. Users can choose their own level of involvement, along with how they want to present themselves online. While some may convey a bolder, more outspoken version of themselves on the Internet, other users may choose to hold back and maintain a more private identity. 

As we delved deeper into the concept of an identity outside of reality, several questions arose. What factors can inform someone's "identity"? Is an identity outside of reality limited to the Internet? Can one create an identity through a video game? How do all of these factors affect one's religious identity? 

I feel that video games can absolutely leave an effect on one’s identity, and have further explained below:

Do religious and cultural representation in video games matter, or is it “just a game”?

It isn’t just a game. Religious and cultural representation does matter when it comes to video games. For example, in Call of Duty (American Campaign), users are assigned the role of an American soldier participating in attacks and sieges on Germany and Austria. This role could indirectly impact users’ opinions of the video game “opponents” in real life. If this is the case, then one can assume that religious and cultural references could have an impact on users as well.

How is the hero’s identity, as constructed by the game developers, significant for the player? 

If it is assumed that the virtual environment of a video game, along with it’s cultural and religious representations, can influence one’s identity, then it can absolutely be concluded that the “hero”/”antagonist” in the game can leave an even more lasting influence. Gamers can develop some sort of attachment to the role they play, and may even begin to affiliate with some of the hero’s characteristics.

Can video games be used as a medium to shape or inform religious identity?

I personally feel that, to some extent, video games can be used to shape one’s religious identity. There is a plethora of games on the market containing religious themes, such as Halo, David vs. Goliath, and Mecca 3D. Whether the video game is centered around a specific religion, or simply includes religious references, users' identities can be shaped. 

Thanks for reading! 

Blog 1 - Case Study Abstract

Hi there! Welcome to my blog. Here I will be sharing weekly posts relating to my thoughts on in-class lectures, online content, and my own personal case study.

For my case study, I chose a collection of religious memes that I found online, which all reflect themes referring to Christianity & Republicanism.

Christianity is built on the foundational belief that Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of humankind and ascended into Heaven, giving the world eternal life after death. Christianity is closely associated with the Republican Party and is shown in the first tenet of Republicanism. Republicans believe in “the basic and absolute human right to exist; that this gift of life is gifted by God, and predicates the existence of all other rights.” Republicanism is associated with conservative beliefs, such as limited government, self-reliance, and traditional American values. However, over time, these conservative beliefs have been skewed into the perception that Republicans are close-minded and unsympathetic. This perspective is illustrated through several “Republican Jesus” memes, which are described below. 

The first photo depicts “traditional” Jesus Christ on the left and “Republican Jesus” on the right. “Republican Jesus” is shown, listing several negative things he would do (cut food stamp benefits, block equality rights). Through this photo collage, Republicanism is framed in a very negative light.

The second photo shows Jesus Christ posing with a rifle. The photo claims that “Republican Jesus” will only love people if they are “American, Republican, Christian, White, Straight, and Male.” This photo represents the “close-mindedness” that many believe the Republican Party possesses.

Through research and analysis of my collection of memes (the rest of which are shown below), I will examine how the relationship between religion and political parties is depicted online. Specifically, I will explore how memes like “Republican Jesus” are used in the 2016 presidential election as a tool to intentionally portray Republicanism in an unfavorable light.