As the Internet continues to rise in popularity, many people are wondering whether its growing acclaim has had a negative impact on our youth’s religious affiliations. In the highly controversial debate, CNN has taken the position that the Internet has actively influenced the significant decrease of our youth’s religious affiliations.
After examining both sides of the argument, I find myself inclined to agree with CNN that the Internet has influenced the growing desire to disassociate oneself with religion. However, I also believe that religious disaffiliation goes back further than the disinterest in religion shown by the current youth. Additionally, to fully understand why so many people are growing more disassociated with religion, one must evaluate the actual origin of the decline.
The question of whether or not we should be religious did not come about with the creation of the Internet. Rather, it has been a point of contention for many years, oftentimes resulting in religious protests. Changing familial values, in my opinion, was the initial cause of religious disaffiliation. Moreover, these changing values became multigenerational, leading to the continued decline in religious affiliation with our generation, often referred to as Generation Z. The genesis of the initial decline was a direct result of the generation preceding us, often referred to as the baby boomer generation, wanting “religion on our own terms.”
Instead of having set guidelines on how a person should conduct him or herself religiously, people began to create their own standards. By doing so, the method of “religion on our own terms” has become more accepted over the years, where it is now commonplace for someone to choose how he or she wishes to integrate religion into his or her lifestyle. Rather than going to a religious gathering once a week, or at all, actively practicing a religion is no longer considered to be an essential value, like it once was to the generation preceding the baby boomers.
Although religion was considered to be fundamental in shaping a person’s life, there are now other aspects of life that are considered more relevant. The creation of the Internet and the growth of social media have further developed this multi-generational belief that religion is not essential to our lives. The Internet, in my opinion, acts as the second catalyst in the decline of religion through the availability of social media. Out of the recent rise of social media, there are now more efficient and widespread methods of delivering protests. However, an inevitable result of utilizing these new methods is that the many negative beliefs aimed at religion have further sparked the decline of religious affiliation with our own impressionable generation.
The Internet has without a doubt impacted religion negatively. To say that the Internet is the only source of religion’s destruction, however, is a gross inaccuracy given that the decline of religion has been occurring for many years. By further distancing ourselves from religion, we are showing society’s changing values. Additionally, one might assume that it is likely that generations to come will also be less inclined to call on religion in times of difficulty, given the changing face of religion and the relevancy it holds for many of today’s youth.