I’m not anyone to tell you how and how not to use social media. Nor am I saying social media is the Devil or it’s awful. It has a lot of great uses, but for most of us (including myself) we either waste way too much time on it, seek attention to the point of narcissism, and engage in countless hours of wasted time.
We have an obsession with taking pictures (I’m guilty of this too) to a point of madness. We take pictures of virtually everything and anything. Yes, in some cases taking pictures is okay and maybe beneficial to others. We do, however, need to make sure we know what we’re sharing and who we’re sharing information with.We live our lives virtually without actually living our lives. We’re so concerned in capturing the moment in video form or picture form. Now I’m not saying never to take pictures of video, but do we really need to take so many and so often?
It’s funny, we get upset when we learn about the NSA spying and our sensitive information being compromised by social media networks, yet do we really make it that difficult for our information to be compromised? With the amount of details we post on social media it’s not too difficult to track someone, find out where they live, who their friends are, who their family members are, where they work, etc.
Here are a few things I think we need to stop doing on social media:
1. Sharing Sensitive Information
Posting sensitive information in the form of:
- Your Relationship Status
- Your Physical Location (Checking-In to Locations)
- Pictures of You and Your Spouse
- Pictures of You and Your Family (Especially Kids)
- Personal Information Regarding Your House, Address, etc.
There is more sensitive information I can list out, but it requires a bit of discernment from the user him/herself. All of this seems pretty obvious, but many of us do so without even thinking about it. There are too many of us who post up sensitive information knowingly or unknowingly. Regardless, we need to be cognizant of what information we are sharing and with whom.
We need to realize that we’re exposing ourselves to praise, criticism, jealousy, backbiting, and slander. Why expose yourself or your loved ones to that? If you want to share personal information ensure your security settings are set in such a way that only the individuals you want to see it see that information. However, in our social media age information is hard to truly secure so use your own discretion when you do post up information, statuses, pictures or videos of you, yourself, your family or friends.
2. Posting Selfies
I find it extremely ironic how as a society we despise those who gawk or stare inappropriately at girls, yet are totally fine with taking selfies which in essence allow the same creeps or stalkers to stare at your photo or browse through several selfies that you take. Also, our obsession with taking pictures of ourselves is concerning as it shows a complete lack of confidence and sincerity. When our cameras are constantly pointed at ourselves it shows a level of narcissism, ostentation, attention-seeking behavior and obsession over our image.
Selfies at the gym or pictures of you doing community service can render your good deed null and void if we are seeking any praise or have the intention of showing off to others of how good of a person we are by serving others. Keep your intentions pure and ensure pictures you take aren’t focusing on yourself, but the project or service at hand.
3. Taking Pictures (or Video) of Other People Without Their Permission
Many of us may see a funny moment of a person (or people) in our lives and take a quick sneak picture and post it on social media and tell everyone how funny it is. However, what separates us from those who are voyeurs or spy on people without them knowing. How would you like your picture to be taken by a complete stranger, ridiculed, mocked, slandered, made fun of, etc.?
Also, your intentions may be good sometimes to show the poor, needy or helpless you are serving at a community service event, but when you do take the picture at least ask the person or people. People have their own dignity, self-respect, and honor so do your part by respecting that by asking them before taking a picture of them.
4. Posting Pictures of Food
Unless you’re a chef or a food blogger there shouldn’t be a need for us to share every meal we eat. Sadly, we see individuals posting virtually every meal they eat. We even have a disgusting term to describe this phenomenon: food porn. The word porn is a disgusting word, yet the term summarizes our attitude towards these pictures—are they simply an item to be drooled over like actual pornography? The very phrase is offensive.
Food is to be eaten as a source of nutrients and nourishment. Our food shouldn’t be the center of our lives, nor the obsession of our lives. Think about those who have less food than ourselves—do they care about how food looks or what others are eating? We need to remind ourselves that food should be seen as a blessing of nutrients and sustenance from Allah, not something to be obsessed over and the object of obsessive attention.
5. Excessively Sharing Photos and Posting Rapidly
This pretty much goes with #2. There are individuals I have had to take off of my newsfeed due to their excessive photo sharing and photo uploads on Facebook. If you’re uploading 5-10 pictures in a span of 10 minutes there is a problem. We’ve come to a point in our lives that we are more concerned about taking pictures than actually living in the moment or experiencing the moment we are in or the place we are. Our first knee-jerk reaction is to take a picture and upload it on social media. Experience the moment and post your pictures or share your pictures with those who truly care.
We also need to be very wary of jealousy, evil-eye, slander and backbiting that may occur to the photos you may post. You’re essentially opening yourself up to criticism, praise, jealousy, slander and backbiting. Also, it’s a huge violation of your privacy if people know where you are at all times.
6. Engaging in Debates
Social media debates are a waste of time and not productive at all. If debating offline is a waste of time then you can definitely believe that debating or engaging in a debate online is a bigger waste of time, energy and effort. It’d be a better use of your time to discuss,have a dialogue or educate someone than debate someone who is set in their ways.
7. Public Character Assassination
Islamically we know that backbiting and slander is forbidden, yet we engage in it too easily on social media. This is so easily done with people we may or not know. This includes embarrassing our own families and friends or those we may not know. You may disagree with someone online or disagree with an individual but don’t go to a point where it becomes slander, backbiting, and gets into foul language or profanity.
Also, for the love of Allah we need to really stop being so passive aggressive in our statements. If you really want to address an issue go tell or advise the individual(s) or group. If you truly love for your brother/sister what you love for yourself then go advise them in private and discuss your concerns with them. Offer solutions, not just criticisms.
8. Posting Content with Profuse Profanity or Inappropriate Language
Many of us may in a joking manner or in a fit of anger/rage post a status with profanity or inappropriate language. Many of us may joke or post a joke or some sort of content be it a meme, music video, video, article or other type of content which may contain profanity or inappropriate language. Yes, some content may be educational or raise awareness and if it does serve that purpose at least due your due diligence in ensuring those you’re sharing the content with that it does have profanity or inappropriate language.
Also, be wary that you will be asked about the content you do post on social media by Allah and if it exposes individuals to unneeded profanity or inappropriate language. We all are adults and understand language we need to remove from our vocabulary. Using crude language or profanity in our vocabulary shows a lack of character, morality, and values. It also shows others that we
9. Posting Nudity or Offensive Content
We may not think we do this, but sometimes we may post pictures that are somewhat revealing in some manner or another. We need to make sure the content we post is not violating anyone’s privacy, nor is it offensive, or too revealing in nature. If we’re to post nude or revealing content what makes it any different than those who post pornography online be it video or picture content? No, we may not do this of ourselves, but it may be in the form of music videos, memes, articles, etc.
You may be exposing others to inappropriate content unknowingly and getting the sins in the process. Realize the trend in posting anything up can lead to us promoting or perpetuating bad behaviors which in the end come back and hurt ourselves. It also shows a lack of poor character, bad morals/values, and just an overall lack of concern about the consequences for our actions and words.
We must do our best to ensure the content we are posting is not offensive either in the form of ridiculing someone’s beliefs, way of life, race, religion, ethnicity, etc. This includes light-hearted jokes or humor. Even if one person is offended and they tell you it is then immediately delete it and apologize. One person being offended is enough for you to remove the offensive content if you truly are cognizant of Allah.
10. Posting Pictures of Partying or Hanging Out (In a Non-Halal Manner)
One of the silliest things we can do is post pictures of ourselves partying or hanging out (in a non-halal manner) or doing anything haram or sinful. Imagine 5 years or 10 years down would you be proud of those pictures? Let’s forget about the future would you be comfortable sharing the pictures or videos of yourself doing unspeakable or stupid things to your own mother,f ather, grandmother or grandfather or extended family? I say this because maybe we don’t have the level of taqwa (God-consciousness) of Allah that we should have so it may take embarrassment from people to change our behaviors.
Imagine this conversation happening with your future child:
Your Child:“Wow, let’s look at your photo album”
You: “Yeah here are some of my college pictures”
Your Child: “Who’s that you’re hugging? Is that mom/dad?” OR [nsert any embarrassing moment
captured in a picture here]
You: “No, that was just a friend from college”
Try explaining to your child or your future spouse about the inappropriate pictures you have posted
on social media. Guys, would you be happy with your future wife’s arm around another guy? Ladies,
would you be happy seeing your future husband’s arms around 2 girls? Would you be happy to see
your future spouse partying and acting crazy in pictures? Is that something that shows a great
character, self-respect, or good morals/values?
I’m not saying people don’t change and people do change for the better, but when you post pictures
of you doing questionable things in pictures on social media you essentially label yourself or set an
image in people’s minds. You could look at this as a self-character assassination. You’re essentially
telling people this is who I am, this is what I do and this is what defines me.
Your pictures may also actually encourage others to engage in that spiritually, emotionally and
socially detrimental behavior. You never know how people may interpret the posts or pictures you
post. They may say “if he/she is doing it, it’s ok.” You will be held responsible in the sight of Allah for
the promotion of an evil action and get their sin for it too.
It’s funny when we do post pictures that are questionable and a friend or family member advises us
on how it may be detrimental to our image yet we act defensively and tell them they’re being
judgmental, conservative, or being a hater, etc. You share these pictures on an online public forum
and then complain about when people advise you for your own good. May Allah guide us and
remove the blindness from our eyes and realize our own shortcomings and change for the better.
11. Telling People they are Hating or Judgmental about Your Posts
If you produce some sort of public content be it a video (Mipsterz Video anyone? :P), picture, public status/statement, etc. be sure to realize you will receive both praise and criticism. If you can’t handle the criticism then you need to remind yourself you’re posting on an ONLINE PUBLIC FORUM. Be it Twitter, Instragram, Facebook or Youtube or any other social media platform realize you’re using an online public forum. It’s similar to you getting up on a soapbox in the middle of your city and telling or showing something to people walking by. People walking by will either appreciate your thoughts or praise you or they may disagree vehemently with you. So be prepared for praise, apathy or disagreement.
Also, if there’s some sort of online (or offline) social behavior you’re doing that may be detrimental and someone advises you to change your lifestyle or actions then genuinely think about your actions. If someone is saying something reflect upon it and see if there’s any evidence to support what they’re saying. The problem today is we hide behind the phrase “don’t judge me” or “Only God can judge me.”
Also, everyone who may criticize you online may not be “hating” or being “judgmental” if they do express a differing view from your own. It’s hating or judgmental only in the tone in which they do state their disagreement or criticism. You can also learn from these criticisms and differing views to truly look into yourself and ask yourself: Do I need to look into this criticism? Who is the criticism coming from? What lessons can I learn from this? Am I potentially wrong?
These moments are ego-breaking moments and learning moments for all of us to learn from and only make us more intelligent and wiser the next time we do post or opinions, products, or projects online.