As artificial intelligence and algorithmic surveillance become more ubiquitous, we should really start to think about our relationship, not just to internet tracking and data collection, but to the fundamental relationship between audiences and marketing that these technologies are products of.
...time is not natural: it is a social product. A year might be the duration that has elapsed as the Earth circles the sun, but our planet’s orbital position tends to have little bearing on how I conduct myself as a person. However, a New Year’s Eve party? There you’ll see me reflecting, resolving, disclosing, mourning, celebrating, making amends, taking chances, jumping into new beginnings, and, above all, falling back into the same old patterns. Time is made knowable through the procession of meaningful events that we use to punctuate its abstract passage.
Religious commodification is an arena that has gained increasing interest among social scientists, especially where religious symbols and artefacts are being appropriated by both adherents and non-adherents in an attempt to capitalize on growing worldwide markets. In what Sophia Rose Arjana calls the “mystical marketplace,” these objects, many of which are distinctly associated with orientalist versions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, are stripped of their original contexts and then reimagined as representatives of a kind of timeless, exotic, spirituality to be consumed by economically dominant Westerners. But this short thought-piece is about those consecrated objects whose marketing and sale is what made them sacred in the first place (like the Tibetan Singing Bowls but drawn from Harry Potter and Star Wars rather than the Tripitaka and the Mahayana Sutras). This is about a growing link between religion and fandom and the “ritual objects” that the latter now produces.
You might not realise it, but you probably follow a Mormon lifestyle blogger on social media. It’s an aesthetic: the specific way knee-length dress is paired with an “effortless” messy braid, a yearly snap of pimply-teenagers in wedding dresses, a subtle nod to their children’s names in their Instagram bio, and absolutely no mention of their faith.