chapter  5
27 Pages

Me, myself and iPod: Hybrid, wired and plural selves

We are immersed today in what Wade Clark Roof calls “a time of paradigm shifts,” in which there is a disruption between experiential and “institutionalized” forms of religion (1999, 171, 173). Contemporary “spiritual searching,” says Roof, “is largely a private matter involving loosely based social networks and small groups” (177). Today’s religiously minded person is a “bricoleur” who “cobble[s] together a religious world from available images, symbols, moral codes, and doctrines,” all the while “exercising considerable agency in defining and shaping what is considered to be religiously meaningful” (75). In this chapter, I look at the ways that our sense of identity is shaped and transformed through virtual engagement.1 It turns out that the ways that we engage with our own identities in virtual contexts have a lot to say about how we would like to see ourselves, about what our dreams are, and about how these dreams become multiplied and fragmented in today’s complex media environments. A surprising partner in this discussion is the contemporary academic study of interreligious dialogue, since in our online encounters and in our real-life interreligious encounters we find ourselves increasingly involved in competing, multiple worldviews with conversation partners who themselves are navigating multiple faces and selves.