In times where the internet is a growing part in how we interact with other people, how we conduct ourselves and the image we portray is something that many of us are asking. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and (if you’re cool like me) YouTube – you are essentially making connections not only with people you know, but people you don’t know.
Furthermore, if you’re someone with a sizeable following, you carry a degree of influence in what you say, and in the words of Spiderman’s uncle “With great power, comes great responsibility”.
A few years back, I joined the social networking site Twitter after gentle persuasion of my peers. I was quite taken back and found a whole new platform of sharing ideas and jokes with people that I hadn’t known before.
However, one day I remember opening my twitter and thinking I had accidentally opened a digital copy of Al Kafi or Al Bukhari.
A continuous stream of Hadiths stacked on to my timeline, and indeed the same thing happened on Facebook. I also saw some people, that I know in real life, furiously taking part in this and couldn’t but help think to myself that’s not how they actually are in real life…[pullquote]By design, social media has all the right instruments to be the ultimate mechanism to feed your ego.[/pullquote]It then dawned on me, that many people were using Hadiths and other wise quotes merely for the sake of getting more likes, retweets, ‘friends’ and followers. By design, social media has all the right instruments to be the ultimate mechanism to feed your ego. (I do acknowledge that this is NOT the case for everyone).
My issue with this kind of behaviour is that I feel it equates to being pretentious for the sake of trying to look ‘deep’ and overtly religious.
If that is not how you are in real life then you’re basically lying about who you actually are and subsequently misleading people about yourself. Furthermore, I feel that it is disrespectful towards the Hadith and Quran itself as they are being used to serve someone else’s narcissism.
One more observation I have made is the tireless arguments, debates and rants that are supposedly taking place in the name of God and the religion of Islam. Ultimately, no one engaging in a heated debate online is looking to walk away with their minds changed, and 99.99% of the time they won’t – so all that is happening is two or more people are getting worked up, making a show and feeding their egos whilst being conscious other people are reading.
Honestly, my advice is simple – leave it out.
“Among the signs of ignorance is arguing with irrational people.”
– Imam Hussain
Another dimension that falls into the realm of online social networking is ‘that age’ – boys and girls interacting with each other is inevitably going to cause a stir and some flirting in messages will ensue. At the same time, social media could be used for young boys and girls to get to know one another for the right reasons – marriage. One idea put forward by some leaders and scholars within the Muslim community is to ‘put on the best image of yourself’; often hinting towards how it will affect your chances of finding a spouse.
Sorry, but I totally disagree with this notion because doing that would also be DECEIT.
God forbid anyone should get married to a compulsive-hadith-post-er only to find out they’ve married someone who actually isn’t all that pious.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t maintain some level of dignity and care over our image; I am just saying to not lie about who you are – which brings me to the next group of digital people, the rebels.
I then found another set of people, who go on the opposite extreme of being and discarding any level of social dignity, just for the sake of challenging the norm and (maybe) attracting attention, whereas in real life they are fairly reserved people, who conduct themselves in a manner which is opposite.
I have had the opportunity of meeting some people that I have met through social media sites and have been amazed at the level of contrast; the person you would expect to me a complete cocky, loud mouth, turns out to be a softly spoken, polite and reserved person – so, why the pretense?
And this is one of the biggest problems with Social Media sites, you can essentially develop an alter ego which isn’t only lying to others about who you are, but lies to you about who you are.
A good reminder to myself and anyone reading, is to really question themselves as to whether they are genuinely being themselves. If you wouldn’t walk around in real life quoting Quran and Hadiths all day long and engaging in sectarian debates, why do that online? Equally, if you wouldn’t spend your whole day swearing and making inappropriate remarks…why do it online?
Learn to become confident in yourself; who you are, what you believe and think, and what you do.
There is no need to emulate someone else’s persona, or go out of your way to do what it takes to fit in or to become ‘popular’, because ultimately you are lying to yourself. When we begin lying to ourselves eventually we end up becoming that lie; which will affect how people treat and perceive you and will hold you back in your own life from developing into a better person.