Type of Work
Today, there is a population of millennials who are interested in the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Scholars of the Camino believe that the route fundamentally changed with the rise of technology, asking whether technology distances a younger generation from a spiritually meaningful experience. I walked 322 km from Léon in Spain to the sacred destination in Santiago. As a pilgrim, I engaged in both ethnographic observation and conducted interviews mostly with pilgrims under 30 (millennials) about their spirituality and relationship with technology and specifically, social media. Most participants identified as spiritual, rather than religious and each participant carried at least one mobile device. There was no correlative pattern between spirituality and social media usage, and yet none of my fifteen participants left behind a mobile device. Rather, they adjusted their relationships with their phones in their new setting, which could mean complete rejections of social media while on the Camino or reclaimings of social media, so that social media could serve them positively. The content of these posts reflect that: they display the faces of complete strangers become close friends, beautiful and changing scenery, and gratitude for the experience. These posts, or lack of posts, signify a spirituality that is present on the Camino, and that millennials yearn for. For millennials, the pilgrimage is an attempt to resolve the worries of uncertain futures and to take them away from technology, which often makes the crisis worse. This need to take a break from these pressures is a strong representation of the search for spirituality, and actively taking measures to find a sense of direction inside of one’s self. Examining pilgrims under thirty, and their spirituality and interaction with social media, offers a contemporary and human example of how millennials have reclaimed a historically religious experience to address their modern needs.
Hamilton Areas of Study
Hamilton Sponsoring Organization
Levitt Public Affairs Center
Hamilton Scholarship Series
Levitt Summer Research Fellowship
Hamilton Faculty Advisor