The connected pilgrim: The potential for transformation in the social media age

Michael G Xiarhos, Salve Regina University


The work highlights the origins of pilgrimage, with particular focus on the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. It also ties to other major pilgrimage locations and the commonality between faiths regarding the act of pilgrimage itself. The core focuses is the potential for an authentic-transformative experience through the act of pilgrimage while engaging in the profane activity of social media. The paper takes the position that while online faith practice and even digital or virtual pilgrimage offer deeply spiritual and potentially transformative experiences, traditional-physical pilgrimage practice is disturbed by the individual who chooses to consistently connect to the secular world via social media and/or electronic mail. Furthermore, this work illustrates, through a deep engagement with epic “travel” literature from the past, in comparison with modern and contemporary pilgrim memoirs and narratives, that humanity’s desire for engagement with the spiritual world has not changed in any fundamental way, rather how we engage with the spiritual has changed and continues to change. The instant connective power of mobile Smart Technology in general and Social Media specifically is a dangerous distraction to the traditional Pilgrim and ultimately pulls the pilgrim outside the sacred world of pilgrimage making it impossible to fully engage in the experience.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Xiarhos, Michael G, "The connected pilgrim: The potential for transformation in the social media age" (2016). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI10245215.