Regardless of what their religious tradition teaches, teenagers on social media platforms like Facebook are “picking and choosing” religion to customize their needs than those who do not use social media, researchers have revealed. Women are more inclined to believe that all religions are true as opposed to that only one is true or that there is very little truth to religion. Married people are less likely to accept the notion of many religions being true when compared with only one, the findings suggested.
“On Facebook, there is no expectation that one’s ‘likes’ be logically consistent and hidebound by tradition,” said sociology researcher Paul K. McClure from Baylor University. Religion, as a result, does not consist of timeless truths. “Instead, the Facebook effect is that all spiritual options become commodities and resources that individuals can tailor to meet their needs,” McClure added.
Social media users also are more likely to see it as acceptable for others of their faith tradition to practice other religions. However, the so-called “spiritual tinkerers” are not necessarily more likely to believe all religions are true.
“Social networking site users are between 50 to 80 percent more likely to be flexible about varied religious beliefs and practices,” according to McClure’s findings published in the journal Sociological Perspectives.
The study is based on an analysis of data from the National Study of Youth and Religion. McClure used three waves of telephone surveys with youths and their parents from 2002 to 2013. More than 89 percent of young adults report using social network sites with some frequency.
“What this study suggests is that social technologies have an effect on how we think of religious beliefs and traditional institutions,” McClure said.
In particular, those who spend time on social networking sites like Facebook are more likely to think it’s perfectly acceptable to experiment with other religions and claim they do not need to remain committed to the teachings of a singular tradition.
“In this way, emerging adults may distinguish themselves from older generations not only in their use of technology, but in how they think of religion,” the findings showed.