Audience Perception and Religious Identity Among Social Media Users: The Case of Muslim Arab Women in Israel
Drawing on 15 semi-structured interviews with Muslim Arab women in Israel who underwent a change in their religious identity while using social media, this article explores the role played by actual and imagined audiences in the formation and maintenance of religious identity on social media. The findings show how differing circumstances produce different perspectives on audiences. In times of identity crisis and change, interviewees would not engage with audiences whose behavior could not be predicted. The imagined audience was present in the participants’ social media use, even when threats to their religious identities were absent. Additionally, interviewees use their future selves as audiences. These perceptions are based on past experiences and predicted future scenarios, mainly the oppression the participants experience both as individuals and as members of an oppressed religious group. The article points to the importance of social media audiences not only as groups targeted with online content but also as crucial parts of identity formation and, at times, of identity itself.