Bu çalışma Jean Baudrillard’ın Simülasyon Kuramı’ndan yola çıkarak muhafazakâr toplumlarda dini referanslara göre işleyen evlilik sürecinin dijital ortamlara taşınarak sanallaştırılmasına odaklanmaktadır. Postmodern çağın en önemli düşünürlerinden Baudrillard kuramında; gerçeğin bir daha geri gelmemek üzere yok olup gittiğini, her şeyin hipergerçekleştiğini ve gerçeğin yerini aldığını ileri sürmekte; bu yok oluş sürecinin sorumlularından biri olarak da medyayı göstermektedir. Medya gerçek olan her şeyi sanallaştırmakta ve gerçekmiş gibi algılanmasını sağlamaktadır. Medyanın bu karşı konulamaz simüle etme yeteneği değişimlere daha dirençli olan geleneksel ve muhafazakâr toplumlarda bile değişimi kaçınılmaz kılmaktadır. Muhafazakâr toplumlar gerek ihtiyaçların doğurduğu zorunluluklardan gerekse değişimin kaçınılmaz olmasından dolayı medyayı hayatlarına entegre etmekte ve bu yeni gerçeklik tarzını benimsemektedir. Özellikle yeni medya teknolojileriyle toplumsalın kılcal damarlarına kadar nüfuz etmeye başlayan sanal gerçeklik, dini referansları, geleneksel kurumları ve kültürel normları da soyutlamakta ve kendinin bir parçası haline getirmektedir. Günümüzde İslami kurallar dahilinde evlenmek isteyen kullanıcılar için tasarlanan yeni medya ortamları söz konusu sanallaşmanın en tipik örneği niteliğindedir. Artık kültürel kodlar ve dini referanslar gerçek bağlamından koparılarak sanal mekanlara taşınabilmekte, bu sayede muhafazakâr kullanıcıların-melez bir form sunsa da-dini çekinceleri minimize edilmeye çalışılmaktadır. Bu realite göz önünde bulundurularak ele alınan çalışma, İslami usullere göre yapılan evliliklerin sanal ortamlarda nasıl gerçekleştiğini betimlemeyi amaçlamaktadır. Çalışmada yeni nesil bir araştırma yöntemi olan Netnografiden yararlanılmış ve katılımcı gözlem yoluyla veri seti oluşturulmuştur. Elde edilen bulgular incelendiğinde dini veya kültürel referansal kodların sanal ortama mutasyon geçirerek taşındığı gözlenmiştir.
This study examining the forms of simulating reality with reference to the Simulation Theory of Jean Baudrillard, one of the most important philosophers of the postmodern era, discusses the research question through Islamic marriage sites. According to Baudrillard, whose Simulation Theory asserts that material reality has disappeared physically and as well as conceptually, only virtual reality, namely, the simulated version of reality has been left over. For him, simulation is neither an image of the ‘real’ nor is it the version of the reality pretending to be ‘real’. He gives the example of a patient to explain the simulation: a malingerer at first lies on a bed and tries to make people believe. The person who is acting in the illness simulation does not only pretend but also reveals that he convinces oneself by finding various symptoms in his body before the surrounding people do so. On the other hand, Baudrillard emphasizes that simulation eliminates the difference between real and fake and also between real and imaginary (2016b: 15-16). Real and fake irreversibly disappeared for good by completely dissolving the lines between real and imaginary. What is only left over from the no longer accessible reality is the hyperreality which is deprived of origin and reality and derived through models. In other words, everything that can be called real now becomes hyperreality. One of the most remarkable components of simulation theory is mass media. Imitations, images, and codes have dominated daily life in a society that is virtualized by media and information networks; they are the fundamental element that generates social reality. Virtual reality has surrounded the social life in a way that the socialization level of individuals becomes directly proportional to their relationship with media. That is to say, the masses are always subject to a communication bombardment; in Baudrillard’s own words, “what specifies socialization is the hours spent in front of communication instruments by the amount of news, not theoretical borders” (1991: 22). Media tools that play a dominant role in shallowing the concepts, in substituting the reality by virtuality and in transformation of everything into a dead nature which is nothing more than an image, that is, into a simulation universe, also involve media consumers in this process. The postmodern human can take a place in the production process of virtual reality by technical possibilities of new media platforms and provides for reality to become unreachable further. He does this with great sincerity. Just because it is thought that ‘synthetic’ gestures of the modern society that has a very advanced level of technology are superior to traditional society’s gestures necessitate physical participation (Baudrillard, 2010: 71-72). Societies, today, are convinced that they do live in a genuine reality rather than virtual one, by the help of virtual technologies; an enormous effort, energy, and money is spent to this end (Adanır, 2016: 53). One of the virtual realities of new media technologies is online dating sites. People, nowadays, benefit from new media platforms to establish a long dating relationship and marriage. It is also confirmed that marriages via dating sites as a result of falling under the spell of virtual reality have increased day by day. Results of the Pew Research Center’s report about online friends and marriage tendencies in America show a parallelism related view. For the report, 15% of the US population uses such platforms to meet and find partners; 5% of American couples who are married met with each other via dating sites and/or applications (Smith and Anderson, 2016). This increase is seen in Turkey as well. Virtual marriage sites appear attractive to remove the disadvantages arising from the traditional structure of Turkish society. Marriage sites that come to help about overcoming the difficulties during socialization before marriage by the effect of traditional codes and religious references have been preferred more every passing day. Accordingly, marriage sites that design ergonomy of the site based on traditional and religious references by considering related reality cause real to become virtual and be carried into digital platforms by a mutation.
This study that was conducted with reference to this reality aimed to define how Islamic marriages realize in virtual environments. We used ethnography that is a new generation research method in this study; the data set was established by participant observation techniques. Research data were obtained by a data collection method called sniper. We also took care of keeping any finding on names or nicks of the users' secrets. Technical failures in findings and contents of users were used as are, not corrected. The answer to the following questions was sought in the study.
AS1: How are traditional codes and religious references transferred to the new media medium?
AS2: Are there any religious rituals that are detached from their real context and transferred to new media?
AS3: Do the expectations of Islamic marriage site users vary by gender?
AS4: With which concerns are Islamic marriage sites used, or are they becoming popular?
AS5: What are the values and norms that affect the use of the sites?
We observed when findings were evaluated that there are common features in both three Islamic sites as well as different features. The minimum requirement for users in both three sites that run by a similar logic is the intent to marry based on Islamic conditions. Both three sites lay bare that they do not serve for purposes such as friendship or flirt. Completing the membership process by an oath and employing a relationship consultant or imam is the explicit evidence of this issue. It is attention-grabbing for religious principles to be a part of new media platforms. Religious references have been digitalized by moving away from its real context. Related findings confirm the 1st and 2nd hypotheses. Expectations and usage practices of users vary. Minimum expectations of female users shape around ‘morals’ concept while male users build their expectations on the concepts of ‘privacy’ and ‘honor’. As is known, the linear relationship between piety and honor is one of the basic foundations of Turkish society. Yet another difference is the motivations of users. For observations, women avert from using real pictures while men use partly real pictures. Illustrations represent female users based on their turban use. Female users explain averting from real pictures by privacy; they also allege that the real picture use is not a thing that husband-to-be wants. Many users explain the reason for marriage in virtual platforms instead of real environments by the motive of staying in halal borders. They emphasize that being together with the opposite sex who is not halal for him is a sin is the reason for them to prefer virtual marriage platforms. The validity of Baudrillard’s opinions has been evidenced one more time when we make a general assessment by considering all these. It is remarkable that establishing the institution of marriage that is equipped by religious and cultural references in virtual platforms which are positioned as if it were real even in Turkish society where religious and cultural codes are so dominant. There is not only a transformation towards virtual; a transfer of several values into digital platforms is the point of question as well.