There has been an emergence of a new religion across the U.S. and the world. Billions have taken this religion along with their already-held beliefs, practicing both side by side. Most people spend hours every day worshiping and praising this religion’s idols. This new and fast-sweeping religion that we are all a part of is the religion of technology, where people worship the new gods of the internet and the television.
Neil Gaiman’s novel “American Gods” demonstrates this idea of America’s “new gods” perfectly. The central premise of the book is that gods exist because people believe in them, a concept labeled as “thoughtform.” The “old gods,” among the likes of Odin, Ra, Anubis and Anansi, are powerless because no one worships them any longer. Instead, internet and media now rule the country due to people worshiping them instead.
According to a study conducted by ZenithOptimedia, Americans spend an average of 8.2 hours a day consuming some kind of media. We spend a surprising amount of time sitting in front of the altar of television alone, clocking in at an average of 2.8 hours a day according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
No religion can correctly claim to have the same level of time commitment dedicated to devotion as we currently have toward technology. In the past, we would challenge a neighboring province to a fight to the death because they believed in a different deity or had specified times of prayer for whatever god we believed in. Now, instead, we gather around the television to root for our favorite sporting team to beat an opposing team. Instead of reading any kind of scripture, we constantly are reading and checking our cell phones. Rather than striving to be the kind of people we think our believed god wants us to be or praising a deity, we instead praise ourselves and can produce an unlimited amount of personas over the internet, showing an “us” that we want others to perceive.
In an age in which we are perpetually surrounded by information, it’s no wonder that we congregate around our newly found idols such as cell phones, televisions and computers, that provide us with unlimited information. I’m not stating that I believe that the internet and media have become personified gods as in Gaiman’s novel, but I do believe that we have begun to value these new objects of worship over the gods of old. They have begun to take a hold on our lives to the point where some of us couldn’t live without the technology. We’ve become addicted to the worship of new gods. The worst part is that we aren’t even aware of it.