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Interfaith Relations: Medium of Information Essay

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2021

The type of mediums used for spreading and sharing information regarding interfaith relations have a significant impact, reaching different audiences and serving inherently distinct purposes. This section will analyze the mediums of YouTube videos and TED talks. YouTube videos are becoming one of the most popular media resources in the modern world, largely due to the ease of accessibility and appeal to a short length format which includes a significant amount of information, matching tendencies of constantly switching attention spans. YouTube videos can take on a variety of formats and are driven by their content and host personalities.

One channel studied in the Encountering Religion course is led by Zach Anner who has dedicated a series on religious studies by taking a hands-on, immersive approach by visiting places of worship and interacting with the faithful. The fact that he has cerebral palsy and an overall personable and humorous personality allows viewers to have an enjoyable, but informational experience learning about the traditions of faith. It was particularly noticeable in how Anner was able to relate to the strict traditions of Islam while greatly humanizing a faith that many misunderstand and fear. YouTube videos, however, are short and must remain entertaining, often failing to capture the extent and seriousness of such complex topics as religion. YouTube is a media platform; therefore, it requires some manner of visual representation of the topic, which may be difficult to convey for abstract and philosophical topics. While Anner and others may participate in direct experience and conduct interviews, it is much more difficult to engage in deeper discussions through this medium while retaining popularity and outreach.

TED talks were used throughout the Encountering Religion course as a learning medium, the most memorable of which was by Dalia Mogahed discussing life in America as a Muslim. As a medium for interfaith dialogue and discussion, TED talks are considered to be highly resourceful and beneficial. One of the primary reasons is credibility as commonly people who are experts in the field or who have had unique experiences are given the platform to present. In this case, Mogahed is both a Muslim who has lived in the US during and post the 9/11 era as well as a well-known author and scholar of Muslim and religious studies, bearing significant credentials. Mogahed builds a case around her identity as a Muslim in an Islamophobic environment and offers a suggestion about how community integration and interfaith collaboration on an institutional level can contribute to reducing extremism which benefits from isolation and divisive policies targeting Muslims.

TED talks commonly have the benefit of highly engaging and structured conversations which challenge the thoughts and perceptions of their listeners, creating a platform for discussion which is more serious and academic than a YouTube video. The primary downside of TED talks is their length. Some are short, not allowing for enough time to comprehensively cover the topic, while others are very long, becoming less interesting to viewers and resulting in an overwhelming amount of information. It can also be argued that although TED talks rely on scholars, there is no empirical method to verify the research and facts presented, thus creating a potential for bias. Nevertheless, TED talks remain one of the most well-recognized and effective mediums of scholarly discourse, appealing both to the academic community and to individuals simply interested in the topic.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Interfaith Relations: Medium of Information'. 7 July.

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