One would think that with the advent of social media, our friendships and relationships will get deeper and stronger. We will understand what our closest friends are going through and stay in touch with our loved ones across the oceans. There would not be awkward silences of meeting an old friend after years – because, after all, we would have been in touch with them all along. But the reality has turned out to be very different from our expectations.
Not only we have begun to lead very superficial lives, but we have also started to avoid our social obligations, as well as, simple meets and greets in lieu of social media. Unfortunately, not even realizing the effect continuous screen time is having on us.
We Have Started to Live Dual Lives
How many times we have stopped ourselves from enjoying that delicious ice cream because we need to put the perfect picture on Instagram? How many times we have actually ignored our friend sitting right next to us to update a “feeling awesome with…” status on Facebook?
And it is not just about not living in the present, we have begun to weave fake realities about ourselves where we lead one life on social media and other in reality. The adverse mental effect of living such a way is that we find ourselves growing increasingly discontent about what we have right now. There is a constant pressure to make our lives look more happening or more amazing than it really is! We put ourselves on a pedestal of a life which is picture-perfect every moment and then when the mundane reality comes knocking in we have grown increasingly disappointed leading to anxiety and depression.
Additionally, we have become superficial, we paint the rusted iron with vibrant colours pretending that we are not weathering away within. And while it is true that you can fake it till you make it, it is also very important to accept the problems and shortcomings in ourselves and our lives so that we can address them and grow and develop. But with the hypocrisy of our own selves, we are stunting our growth and development and trapping ourselves in the box of one Instagram picture even when our potential is so much more.
We Have Forgotten Our Community
As Muslims, ummah, or our community is very important to us. Islam gives great importance to society and the reliance one Muslim has on the ummah.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The fact of the matter is that mixing may sometimes be obligatory or mustahabb. An individual may be enjoined to mix with others sometimes and to remain alone sometimes. That depends on the purpose. If mixing with others is for the purpose of cooperating in righteousness and piety, then it is enjoined; but if it is for the purpose of cooperating in sin and transgression, then it is forbidden. Mixing with Muslims is a kind of worship, as in the case of the five daily prayers, Jumu’ah, Eid, eclipse prayers, prayers for rain and so on. This is something that Allah and His Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) have enjoined. The same applies to mixing with them on Hajj and when fighting the kuffaar and rebels, even if the leaders of that are evildoers and even if there are some evildoers among the people involved.
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 10/425
But we hardly possess the sense of belonging that we should feel as an ummah, we should love each other solely for the sake of Allah and be there for each other. However, we have ended up being so involved in getting into petty arguments over social media or even deeming ourselves more religious than others.
We think it is sufficient to learn about Quran and Sunnah over an online course, listen to lectures and increase our level of knowledge. However, it is equally important to apply that knowledge in real life. One of the important things here is to actually gather around and mix with our fellow people in deen – not just through social media, but in real time, face to face. To be there for each other, to celebrate each other’s joy and share the burden of grief. This will not only improve your social relationships but also give you a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
We Focus on Quantity over Quality
Our worth is now being determined by the number of friends on facebook, followers on Instagram and the number of likes and comments we receive. We want our phones to be continuously tinkling with notifications as a testament to our popularity, but we are not even having a really deep, reflective and simply, real conversation with anyone anymore.
My grandmother tells us of a time when people would understand what the other person is feeling or wants simply by looking at him. Somewhere on the line, we have stopped looking for, or understanding these social cues.
We are Becoming Isolated and Lonely
Everything can be done through distance, be it education or job but this has made us isolated within the four walls of our house. We talk more, converse less. There is a nagging loneliness within our minds.
We have stopped experiencing the blessings and joys of life and everything we do feel is second hand through the artistically made videos of YouTube and Facebook.
Even when we are outside, we barely listen to the chirping of the birds, or feel the breeze against our skin because we are too busy either telling others about the moment we are in, or capturing it, so much so, that we have forgotten to live in the moment. And when the battery dies, or you have to leave the phone, cut off the wifi, loneliness and sadness settles in.
So, keep the phone aside. Look around. Hear the sounds, even noise. Inhale a deep breath and perhaps, the scent of home or the delicious fruit. Relish the taste of the food given to you as the blessing of Allah. Close your eyes and let these senses wash over you. Praise Allah for making this world and its beauty, and Thank Him for letting you experience it.