Theater of Triumph and Transgression: ­Religious Discourse on Hospitality/­Hostility in the Viral Communication during the Pandemic

Leonard Chrysostomos Epafras, Hendrikus Paulus Kaunang, Jekonia Tarigan, David Akbar Hasyemi Rafsanjani


The present article is the outcome of the research project on religious discourse in social media (socmed) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research focuses on the concept of hospitality and hostility, through which a welcoming, along with hostile and unfriendly attitude are displayed by netizens toward other people, to understand the nature of social relationships over digital platforms. The research employs Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Social Media Analysis to explore and visualize viral communication on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The framework is viral communication as condensed sequences of actions revolving around controversial topics. Several topics under scrutiny, among others, are klepon Islami, Hagia Sophia, and Pope Francis’ controversies. Jacques Derrida mainly informs the discourse of hospitality/hostility. The result demonstrated the sporadic vulnerability of traditional understanding of hospitality. It appeared in the presence of information arbiters as communication actors, taking the middle position and mediating controversial topics. The employment of SNA in dealing with interpersonal virtues in social media is promising, as it demonstrates its mechanism and making in a specific communication context. It allows for a deeper understanding and exploration of the theory of mediatization.


COVID-19 pandemic; hospitality; hostility; hostipitality; viral communication

Full Text:



Canetti, E. (1981). Crowds and power (C. Stewart, Trans.). Continuum.

D’Ancona, M. (2017). Post-truth: The new war on truth and how to fight back. Ebury Press.

Deibert, R. J., Palfrey, J., Rohozinski, R., & Zittrain, J. (2012). Access Contested: Toward the Fourth Phase of Cyberspace Controls. In R. J. Deibert, J. Palfrey, R. Rohozinski, & J. Zittrain (Eds.), Access contested: Security, identity, and resistance in Asian cyberspace information revolution and global politics (pp. 3–20). MIT Press.

Derrida, J. (2000). Of Hospitality (A. Dufourmantelle, Ed.; R. Bowlby, Trans.). Stanford University Press.

Derrida, J. (2002). Acts of Religion (G. Anidjar, Ed.). Routledge.

Epafras, L. C. (2020). Pandemi tak kunjung Padam: Corona, Kon Ora dan Keramahan Organik. In L. C. Epafras (Ed.), Corona vs Kon Ora: Refleksi Teologi Keramahan dalam Konteks Pandemi (pp. 1–27). Alaf Media.

Epafras, L. C., Kaunang, H. P., & Asri, S. (2019). Religious Blasphemy and Monitory Society in Indonesian Digital Age. Kawistara, 9(2), 220–230.

Fahmi, I. (2020, November 16). Percakapan Tentang HRS VS NM. Drone Emprit Publications.

Harari, Y. N. (2018). 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Random House.

Hospes. (2012). In P. G. W. Glare (Ed.), Oxford Latin Dictionary (Second, pp. 885–886). Oxford University Press.

Hostis. (2012). In P. G. W. Glare (Ed.), Oxford Latin Dictionary (Second, pp. 887–888). Oxford University Press.

Kearney, R. (2010). Anatheism: Returning to God after God. Columbia University Press.

Morozov, E. (2011). The net delusion: The dark side of Internet freedom. PublicAffairs.

Paterson, T., & Hanley, L. (2020). Political warfare in the digital age: Cyber subversion, information operations and ‘deep fakes.’ Australian Journal of International Affairs, 74(4), 439–454.

Postill, J. (2014, October). Monitory democracy in an age of media abundance. Johnpostill.Com.

Postill, J., & Epafras, L. C. (2018). Indonesian Religion as a Hybrid Media Space: Social Dramas in a Contested Realm. Asiascape: Digital Asia, 5(1), 100–123.

PPIM UIN Jakarta. (2020). Beragama di Dunia Maya: Media Sosial dan Pandangan Keagamaan di Indonesia (No. 1/1/2020). PPIM UIN Jakarta.

Sunstein, C. R. (2017). #Republic: Divided democracy in the age of social media (Kindle). Princeton University Press.

Tapsell, R. (2017a). The Political Economy of Digital Media. In E. Jurriëns & R. Tapsell (Eds.), Digital Indonesia: Connectivity and divergence (pp. 56–71). ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute.

Tapsell, R. (2017b, February 17). Post-truth politics in Southeast Asia. Inside Story.

Wald, P. (2008). Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative. Duke University Press.

Widyawati, F., & Lon, Y. S. (2020). The Catholic Church and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Case Study of Bishop Ordination in Ruteng, Flores, Indonesia. Journal of Law, Religion and State, 1–11.

Wiggins, B. E. (2019). The discursive power of memes in digital culture: Ideology, semiotics, and intertextuality. Routledge.

Article Metrics

Abstract views: 167 PDF views: 182