Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Digital Media: When God Becomes Everybody—The Blurring of Sacred and Profane

Tsuria, Ruth

This article explores the relationship between communication technology and religion. While previous research has focused on how religious institutions and individuals use digital media, this article emphasizes the religious feelings digital media seem to invoke, with examples like the Jesus Phone or Kopimism. This is explained using theories from Religious Studies. Borrowing from Durkheim, digital media are examined as “sacred” and as “profane”. It is suggested that digital media can be both sacred and profane because hypermodern societies have sanctified the profane. More specifically, hypermodern societies have “killed” god and replaced it with the human, with everybody. It is then digital media—a tool that is meant to be owned by everybody and represent everybody—that take the place of the divine. This tool then, because it connects and communicates human needs and everyday thoughts (and not despite that), inspires feelings of awe and sanctity, even as we use it for the most profane activities.