Online Confessions of Eco-Guilt
Keywords:confession, eco-guilt, online, nature religion, ritual
AbstractPeople whose environmental concern is dominated by the impact of everyday activities such as buying and consuming food, transportation, and using water, those I name ‘everyday environmentalists’, discuss these activities online in blogs, discussion boards, and the comments sections of major news articles. In these forums, everyday environmentalists often describe their failure to live up to their own environmental standards for personal behavior using terms such as ‘guilt’ or ‘eco-sin’. This terminology, their focus on their moral and existential crises regarding their perceived sin, and the emerging patterns of responses to such confessions indicate that the framework of ‘nature religion’ can aid our understanding of this phenomenon. Such analysis suggests that a new online religious-like ritual regarding eco-confession is emerging among everyday environmentalists. Analyzing the actions of everyday environmentalists through the lens of nature religions does, however, stretch the concept of nature religion and raise questions about the online practices of everyday environmentalists.
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