Just How (un)representative of Mormons are the internet ones?
Internet Mormons are a peculiar people. I have commented in several venues that if I had a ward that was like the Bloggernacle, or like the various Mormon Facebook groups in which I take part, I would attend every Sunday. (Indeed, every day, I regularly read various blogs and check on updates to various Facebook groups.)
There is a sense of community among Internet Mormons…a sense that we’ve met kindred spirits, even when the ward environment is stifling, even when our fellow Mormons in the pews either pity or fear us for our doubts, questions, disaffection, or other life scenarios.
The problem, of course, is that as we collect as Internet Mormons, we sometimes forget the implications of our peculiarity. Or maybe we don’t forget the implications of such so much as have no awareness for how peculiar we might be.
How representative are online Mormon narratives about disaffection? How representative are online Mormon criticisms about social issues (e.g., feminism) in the church? Different sides will take different views as to the representativeness, but we just don’t know.
Cue the Mormon Internet Survey.
The Mormon Internet Survey, approved by the University of Cambridge and conducted by Jessica Finnigan and Brad Jones, claims to be the first of its kind to attempt to capture the use of the Internet by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What I find to be intriguing about this survey (since, for full disclosure, I participated in the pilot version of the survey) is that the researchers include many questions that were also included in the broader, larger 2007 Pew Religious Landscape Survey. What this allows the researchers to do is to compare the responses of “Internet Mormons” with both Pew Mormons sampled and the sample of the general population from the Pew results.
Additionally, there is a fun little section to the survey, but I won’t spoil all the details. ;)
In the end, what excites me about this survey is that, if nothing else, we can get a glimpse into how representative (…or…not?) Mormons on the internet, in the Bloggernacle and related groups, are compared with Mormons generally.
I guess what I’m saying…ultimately…is you should take it, OK?