Social media is a wonderful world and it baffles me when I meet someone who says that they don’t have some form of social media – like, what kind of world do you live in? This piece comes off the back of a discussion I had last week after a lecture on our obsession with celebrity culture, which you can read a bit more about here.
Whilst having a chat, the group and I were discussing the obsession with social media and how we are always putting our best angle forward, literally! We are obsessed (and I am too, duhh) with achieving a certain level of perfection and if the flower filter on Snapchat is anything to go by, it’s not as hard as you may think. However, what really bugged me by the time we had moved on to the next topic of conversation, was the fact that we’ve all developed some kind of split personality as a result of us using social media.
The one man who achieved this with class, albeit being fictional, was none other than Lord Voldemort himself, who essentially split his soul seven ways in an attempt to achieve immortality. When you think about it, we too can achieve a certain level of immortality because everything you post online is traceable and can be found quite easily. Remember your obsession with Chad Michael Murray in One Tree Hill? Oh yeah, Facebook does and will remind you of it through their memories feature. Some things can’t be erased and the worst part is that without being conscious of it, you can’t change the image you give to some people with the things you share.
Public – v – Private
Now of course, who cares what people think, and you have the freedom of expression, right? The problem here is that we should care, at least to care about the things that we share and how they represent who we are. It’s become the norm to basically share everything with little thought of if it is Islamically acceptable, or if we have effectively started sinning openly just to gain a few more likes. In the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) states that:
“Alike (to Him) among you is he who conceals his words and he who speaks them openly, and he who hides himself by night, and who goes forth by day.” [13:10]
When you publicise something to the world, you are making a public statement about it and allowing for people to judge you before you are judged. At times, the things we post can be incriminating, harmful and can ruin your reputation and well, we does any person have aside from their good deeds and reputation; these are the things by which people will remember you, so are people going to remember you for having fleeky eyebrows, or how epic your muscles look, or the good you brought to the world?
With this, to Allah (swt), the actions you do in private and in public are one and the same, so maybe we can start to think about what we share, and if we should be showing certain things, when we can repent for them in the darkness of the night, and have them removed eternally from our slates?
Personality disorder? Me? Whatever.
Social media has allowed for us to split our self into more than one being; having public and private accounts across the board, or displaying different things on different social media platforms (because who wants their grandma seeing the shisha evenings, when they usually see our hadith reminders on Facebook?).
Research suggests that our mental health is drastically affected by ‘the like’ and getting positive reinforcements from our ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ but if I may speak for myself on this one, I don’t ever think about the extent to which this is true when I post something online. A survey carried out by Anxiety UK in suggests that 53% of the participants said social media sites had changed their behaviour, whilst of them, 51% suggested that these changes had been negative.
Now I’m no expert in the field of psychology, but that’s just messed.
Not only does social media feed anxiety, but also the same report suggests that it also makes us feel inadequate. We become more conscious of who likes our stuff, or which account is more appropriate for me to share something on, that it’s no wonder that people have sometimes chosen to go for ‘social suicide’ by unplugging from everything and deleting all forms of social media. (South Park nailed this one in Season 20 – viewer discretion advised)
Religious leaders getting with it!
Social media has upped the game, and as Pauline Cheong writes in her academic journal, ‘Religion and Social Media: Got Web?’ “Religious leaders also face increasing pressures to learn new skills in order to keep abreast of the latest technological developments and appear credible to young and wired populations.”
This means that religious leaders need to understand just what’s out there on the web, and to allow for us to get in touch with them. The thing is, there ARE scholars and leaders out there who do just that, so we are we not allowing ourselves to follow them and learn more from them? Honestly, because X celebrity is more appealing to me than a man with a beard but if I speak for myself here, it’s about time we started to reflect onto which one would bring me closer to my ultimate goal of reaching the true immortality I seek – a life of immortality in the paradise of Allah (swt).