Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Muslima's Top 10 Issues with Facebook

      Hey, I know. I’m pretty sure we all have our reasons to be annoyed of Facebook. I’m also sure you’ll find plenty of other lists talking about this. But I want to cover some issues which hit home with me on a daily basis when I log in. And if you’re wondering, no I will not give a fatwa on Facebook. The last thing we need is to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. There’s no harm in choosing to stay off these networks and there are plenty of reasons why I would agree with that approach. Yet, I find Facebook to be a tool. Any tool can be abused and misused. Life is about balancing priorities. Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of being on Facebook and give them a scaled weight out of 10. Check the total score and compare. If your losses are more than your gains, you should reconsider having that account. As for this list, the order of the points on this list is not really that significant.

     Here are my top 10 issues with Facebook :

10. Selfies: 

     I don’t know when, how or why these “self-portraits” blew up all of the sudden. It seems it started with a few girls who were confident enough to get real close to the camera. However, they have not realized the implications of what they started. Ultimately, it’s your Facebook account. You can do however you wish with it. You might have your settings up and your lists set to block off men from seeing your photos. And at the end of the day your face is not awra. But the problem I find is when we complain about models being too perfect and too retouched, and we go off and do the same. Facebook has become a modeling search campaign. With selfies, women can be compared so easily and I’m quite sure those men and boys on your list are monopolizing that opportunity you presented to them and then there are some who just feel so awkward when your face pops up on their screen like that. The bottom line is, if it’s a photo you do not want your employer seeing, or a photo which you would not show a hard copy to that random guy on your list, then it’s probably not the one to use. If the thought of that makes you feel uncomfortable, then perhaps we should choose a new photo or no photo at all. Brothers, if you’re reading this, I have no idea why you would need a selfie. Isn't it all about the muscle with you guys?

9. Facebook as a record book:

     Now with that timeline in place, the world knows your conversation history. That time in grade 10 when you ranted inappropriately in a status calling for your boyfriend to come back to you is not something you want held against you. Let’s face it, even a year ago you were different. You just don’t want to see that again, let alone let the world see it for themselves. Those were stages of you. And now you are probably at your best stage of growth and maturity (hopefully) and you don’t want that holding you back. Facebook has the option to adjust the privacy of everything on your timeline. Change it to “only me” and keep your most recent posts available for your friends or public to see. God tells us to conceal our faults and sins and we choose to expose ourselves so easily.

Abdullah Ibn Masoud (May allah be pleased with him) related, `A man came to the Prophet and said: `O Messenger of Allah! I have mingled with a woman in the far side of al-Medina, and I fulfilled my desire short of actually having sexual intercourse with her. So, here am I, judge me according to what you decide.' Umar Ibn al-Khattab (May allah be pleased with him) then said: `Allah had kept your secret, why did you not keep your secret?' [Sahih Muslim]

8. Publicity: 

     Everything is so public. From your events to your live activity to whether a person has seen your message to even your feelings now. Facebook also has the option to pinpoint your location. Where is the mystery in life? Bottom line is, the options are there but that doesn't mean you should use them. Let’s all practice modesty shall we?
     To touch on another point, we have a relationship status option which I find to be abused quite often. One, there are some of you who think it’s cute to put your best friend as your wife and there are some who decide to announce their marriage to Facebook before their friends and family. Please people, don’t.

7. Distance from reality: 

     I’m starting to find that the more news on our "news feed", the less we care. Especially since our news reporting as people on Facebook is pretty much biased by our views; whether our people are effected or sometimes depending on your area of study. So the problem lies when we associate certain individuals with specific events where it becomes “his/her” important news and not mine.  Be careful folks.

6. Illusion of celebrity life:

    You log into to that timeline, read all the nice posts from your favorite friends and the comments from all the people who adore you. Life seems good. I mean obviously the friends who comment are the ones who love you. You could be the most annoying person on someone's list but they'll almost never tell you. There's no room for personal growth on these networks. We assume that the more 'likes" a person receives, the more they are liked. Which may not always be the case. Everything with Facebook is meant to be centered around you. You log into that homepage and it asks you how you are feeling. The truth is, no one really cares. Facebook just feeds the ego. But I think as long as you are aware of this, you should be okay.

5.Illusion of connection: 

     Facebook is supposed to be our social networking tool whereby we "connect" with other folk. I'm going to argue against this. There is a lot more of an "illusion of connection" rather than pure connection. Why do we add people on our list who have nothing to do with our lives and have not connected with us in years? Do we really care what they think about us? With Facebook, everyone's homepages gives them this illusion of sincere connection when really they are merely bystanders. This illusion oftentimes gives us less of a need to call up or meet with someone we truly appreciate and there's a lack of quality in our friendships because of this. Even Facebook invites are so dry. What happened to the time when we used to send cards through the mail or actually invite people in person? Those were the days. If you're still living those days, then you're a lucky one.

4.Ill intentions and perfectionism:

    You've got that wall or timeline where you can show the world who you are. So obviously, which parts of us do we show? The most awesome parts. Even if it holds less than 5% of our interest, if it makes us look good, we'll share it with the world as though it is our passion. Even in the best of our intentions we often write to boost our reputations whether or not we are conscious of what we do. We share our highlights with the world and everyone begins to believe that every moment in our lives is the same. Let us be transparent and honest with ourselves even if this doesn't please the world around us. To be yourself is the ultimate freedom. Ask yourself a series of questions before you post something:

1) Will this benefit anyone?
2) Am I writing this for myself or for others to see?
3) Do I have a deeper intention for sharing this?
4) Would I be okay if random people on my list (like your fifth grade teacher) saw it ?

ps. This point is partly why this blog is anonymous.

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel" -Steve Furtick

3. Awkward statuses:

     Stop making us feel so awkward and uncomfortable with your statuses, please. I mean that in the sweetest way possible. Think about it for a sec. If you had all your Facebook friends together in one hall, would you pick up a megaphone and read out loud your status? I narrowed down the most awkward status types in my opinion:

1) Too vague: The statuses that make us link all that we know about you to decode this ball of mystery you just exposed to the world. That song lyric or that poem leaves us so confused. You don't want to bring suspicion to yourself please. Make sure if it's vague, then it's positive and not personal.

2) Too detailed: You outfit of the day. Your nails. Your workout routine. Your food. Your location. No one is interested please. Start a blog maybe?

3) Fishing for Dua or forgiveness: It's not the worst thing in the world don't get me wrong. But we abuse it sometimes. We ask others to make dua for us before we've prayed and made dua for ourselves. Your friends for the sake of Allah should be making dua without any reminders. If you want others to make dua for you, the least you can do is private message them. At least it makes them feel special. Fishing for forgiveness is also placed in the same category. Will asking 500+ folk to forgive you at once really get their hearts moving? Or are you just trying to find an easy way to clean your slate? Please apologize to people in person or on the phone. And perhaps you should cut yourself some slack. You didn't commit murder (hopefully).

4) Accomplishments: It's cool to share your accomplishments like graduation and whatnot. But are you over-sharing them? Are you using that "I" word too much?  

2. An addiction and tool for procrastination:

     Facebook is made to condition you into addiction. That red bubble pops up and triggers your reward centers every time you log on. Even if it's just a lousy game request, you've been conditioned to receive that red notification the same way. The only way to cause the extinction of your conditioning is to go for days without any notifications. But we all know that won't happen. Even when you deactivate, it's quite easy to resume since all of your information is still stored. Imagine if you had to restart your profile all over again each time? You wouldn't come back on Facebook again. To overcome an addiction, one must be away from the triggers of an addiction and with the internet and reactivation so easy, it becomes increasingly difficult to quit. Not to mention, it's almost impossible stay away from procrastination an focus on one particular thing on Facebook. You have to check all your notifications at once. There's an app you can add to chrome which gives you a time limit on particular websites for the day. Try it out. Or you can deactivate during times of focus and always come back when you've got spare time.

1. The forgotten folk:

     Do not forget the folk who aren't on Facebook! Just because they are away from that social network, does not mean they don't exist and don't need social interaction. Call them up. Send them a text message or e-mail. Invite them personally to your events. And please stop pressuring them to join our world. They don't have to and their choice should be respected.

"Do not love the world, and the almighty will love you; do not have a longing for that which people have, and they will love you." (ibn-majah hadith)