Largely descriptive in character, there are a lot of articles in the press about how ISIS uses technology and social media. Phenomenologically, these tend to be flat, providing no sense of the lived religious sense created by new media. Much more interesting is this piece by J.M. Berger, which you can read here, about apocalyptic religion and the accelerated sense of time and shared and streaming online social affect: “The Metronome of Apocalyptic Time: Social Media as Carrier Wave for Millenarian Contagion.”
The upshot is here:
“Within this framework, social media has inherent utility to amplify and facilitate the transmission and inculcation of apocalyptic beliefs through three key mechanisms:
- Temporal compression: A belief that prophesied events preceding or accompanying the end of history are imminent or already underway, and that the clock is literally running out. Social media helps accomplish this through the pace of postings and updates relative to older forms of media.
- Social contagion: Intense social contact and prolonged interaction spreads apocalyptic memes in an impactful, life-changing manner. Social media empowers such contact over wide geographical areas and also makes contact with potentially violent people safer for the curious. [Mediated discovery and remote intimacy]
- Immersion: The diminishment and eventual replacement of normal existence with a heightened experience of an alternate interpretation of reality. This is achieved through both the volume of ISIS’s media output, combined with the always-on transmission of that output online, and its content.”