The digitization of faith seems to be happening quite late for a traditional structure universally known to have billions of followers.
Record-breaking prayer-related posts have been seen during traditional religious holidays on Facebook over the past two years, but unique platforms that are making real headway in exploiting worshipers are rare.
Plus, there are blurry lines between religion and this thing called “spirituality,” especially with how many people identify in the 21st century.
Once the domain of deep thinkers in ancient times, the era of social media has brought spirituality in the whirlwind of our present.
He is mentioned in people’s Twitter biogs, insta intros and on dating profiles. For many, it’s not so much about meditating on the basic questions of existence, but more about telling people that they’ve read “The Secret” and wanting to give the impression of having depths that they may not, in fact, possess.
But no matter how real one’s definition is, spirituality is ubiquitous. You will often hear people talk about energy. Light. A force of goodness and truth. Very lofty concepts that might seem hysterical or blind on cynical scrutiny, but in a fragmented world constantly upheld by the often brutal courtship of public opinion and the murky effluence of keyboard warriors, could this be an antidote ?
“It’s not so much an antidote to negativity, it’s more of a balance,” says Sorin Marinescu. My first conversation with him was at the end of December 2021, during a zoom call. Telling me about his native Romania, he wore a cute festive sweater and sat in front of a flashing Christmas tree. If there was an angel on its top, I couldn’t see it, but there was soon to be one perched on its shoulder.
In June 2021, a press release went out detailing the start of a new social platform called MyAngels.com
An interface driven, they say, not so much by religion as by, you guessed it, spirituality.
Marinescu is the founding father. Driven by the quest to find out what will motivate people to do good, he came up with the concept of a platform that can only convey positive thoughts.
How it works?
MyAngels currently has over 12,000 in 29 countries.
Users join communities where there are one or more leaders, or ‘inspirations’. In a way, it borrows something from the tribal model and offers a revival of the time when one listened to the elders, when one sought the advice of a sage, someone eminently worthy of trust. But to keep the positivity flowing, there can be no advice. However, users can of course follow the leader, so to speak, on their own communication platform.
They communicate their “advice”, lessons or mantras by publishing them on the “My news” section. Another way is to set their intentions and post them in the section titled My Wishes. These sections are public, each user can see them by visiting the influencer’s page. Every time the influencer posts something, all other users are notified. If a user wants to communicate with the influencer or with another user, he can use the message function in the app.
In order to eliminate all forms of negativity, trolling, etc., users cannot participate in public discussions or make comments like you can on most other social media platforms.
Regarding the language, the functions are written in English. Marinescu says his team encourages everyone to use the English language, but there are instances when they post wishes or news in their native language. Since more than 90% of the users are at the university or postgraduate level, they understand English or know the translation tools.
Who is using it ?
Euronews has received the contact details of some MyAngels users and we have contacted them for comment.
“We are used to platforms where users show the superficiality of their lives through photos, judgments, criticism. Verbal and visual violence is the order of the day”, explains Ana Ortega, vocational and training therapist Spanish. “That’s why I love this platform, it reminds me of what I really need in my daily life.”
Luminita Anglade, a French psychologist, explained how world events she believed invoked the need for this platform of counterweight.
“The changes that have taken place in recent years and which have affected humanity in all respects but especially psychologically (economic crises, pandemic) have led to a saturation of negativity. We lacked bearings. We are still very connected to the world outside and need recognition, validation and safety. Social platforms are polluted and seem to encourage more and more negativity.” she tells Euronews.
But could this eternal positivity inevitably lead to dissatisfaction?
After all, Marinescu tells Euronews that it is mostly people with university degrees and above-average salaries who use this platform. Could the lack of nuance be its downfall before it started? Intellectual powers of expression can be frustrated, stunted, and linear feeling can, over time, seem dishonest.
Is there a psychological need for additional validation, or more specific information about good wishes that renders an initial, unqualified good wish ineffective?
I ask Luminita to enlighten me.
“Even if we assume that a person with a negative intention would come to MyAngels, they will not have effective power. Lack of support from other users, in this case, would shortly lead to their positive behavior changes.”
So it’s a comfort blanket?
“In these times when we feel so alone, you feel more supported when others hold you and support you with a candle or good thoughts,” Ortega replies. “Now is the time to remember that together we are stronger so that we can manifest the positive in our lives.”
More gimmicky perhaps, even more comforting, is the guardian angel that inspires the name of the platform. With fairly basic augmented reality software, you can carry your angel (or if your religion eschews the traditional angelic form, you can just have the icon of a glowing light) with you throughout the day. Much like dog ears on Snap, you can use the MyAngels app and your camera feature to see your angel next to you when you see your picture looking at you. Sorin demonstrates this and I ask him to move so that it is on his shoulder. He does, and it’s cute and slightly funny. But it illustrates how he sees his creation. Like a balancing power against a confederation of demons fighting for space on the other shoulder.
As the power of religion, certainly in the United States, wanes – a 2021 Pew Research Center A study found that nearly 30% of American adults are no longer affiliated with a religion – feeling good, safe or supported is always a priority.
“I use it daily and I admit that the results are visible in the sense that I am more positive about the situations I face”, adds Luminita.
How is it monetized?
Marinescu doesn’t have the answers yet. The whole company is still very much in start-up mode.
“We are always looking for investors because that’s the business model. At this point, we’re getting more and more users, which means we need resources,” he says.
These finance capitalists are usually referred to as “angels” and I see no reason for that to change in this context.
They experimented with an Israeli fashion brand to see if users who earn credits for visiting the e-store will boost revenue, but the jury is out for now. They seem to be open to ideas.
The founder spent most of April 2022 in the United States where he says the company is entering a new phase.
New recruit Dr. Darren Weissman is now on MyAngels. He is a known figure in spirituality around the world – and is likely to help attract a potentially large American following.
“Social media today has become a breeding ground for negativity and lies, censorship and fear,” Weissman told Euronews Culture.
“People today not only crave connection, we need it to heal. Turn on the news and you’ll hear about war, COVID, genocide, political upheaval, scandal, poverty, starvation, racism, pollution, suicide, bankruptcy, death, hate, violence, cancer, shootings, catastrophic storms, gang violence, biological warfare, pedophiles, terrorism, domestic violence, spiraling divorce rates, infertility , addiction, depression, sexism, nukes, over-medication, malpractice…fear…fear…fear.”
“The MyAngels platform brings hope and light, love and compassion into our hearts and minds and as a result, allows us to begin to change our lives. Life is scary, but fear Life is painful, but there is value in Life is a challenge, but every challenge is an opportunity,” adds Weissman.
I ask him what his favorite part of the platform is.
“There’s a space on the app to ‘Make a Wish.’ create and manifest. The beauty of making a I wish you will feel the support of people all over the world. You will receive their energy and their prayers, their light and their blessings. This is for everyone because we are all interconnected by the ‘love.
“The American perspective is quite different from Europe’s,” says Marinescu. “Now I can say that MyAngels has a global and comprehensive perspective.”