You’re probably rolling your eyes already, figuring this is another rant from some “auntie” weighing in on how “bad” Facebook is. But before you click away from it, for the sake of your future, please continue reading. And no, this is not another dumb chain letter. Read on.
Once upon a time, I was young like you. I wanted people to like me. I wanted people to think I was funny, smart but not nerdy, and of course, good looking. But I digress. The point is, these needs of the young for attention and affirmation from peers haven’t changed. However, with Facebook, they’ve gone in overdrive. And the repercussions can be dangerous for your future, even if today, it seems like it’s just “fun”.
Who doesn’t like to be complimented? Most of us get a non-drug-induced high if we’re told we look “hot” in a photo, that our status update is so witty, or that that comment we made about someone’s picture or wall post is just so funny. LOL.
Sometimes, we cross the line further in our attempts to please. We may say things which we’d never say in front of parents, aunties and uncles. We may put up pictures of ourselves arms around a coworker, friend or classmate of the opposite sex thinking, hey, it’s all in good fun. We’re not doing anything “bad”, really.
We may even remark about the physical characteristics of a certain woman in a crude manner. Or we may use words more fitting of a locker room athlete, not a dignified young Muslim.
First before Facebook, is Allah, the One Who knows your status whether you update it or not. The One who made you “hot”and “witty” in the first place. Remember that your parents may not catch you making that dumb comment or posting that picture. But of course, Allah is the All-Aware. And with Him, there’s no delete button to turn to when you’re caught.
But Allah is Forgiving. He is Merciful. He remembers and knows everything. But He knows we humans can do great things and cringeworthy things. He turns to us when we turn to Him in sincerity and forgiveness.
Human beings on the other hand, are not. They may not remember everything. But when it comes to recalling facts about the misdemeanors of others, many of us have a hard time overlooking, let alone forgiving or forgetting. Which brings me to the whole point of this letter: a mistake on Facebook can cost you big time.
Plenty has been written about bosses looking up potential employees on Facebook and the dangers this poses to employment. But for many others, long-term marriage prospects can and will be affected if you, young Muslim, forget that FB isn’t just about your real friends. It’s also about those others you casually add to your profile’s collection. It’s also about their friends.
Think about this in two situations.
Scenario 1: you post a questionable picture of yourself looking “hot”. It doesn’t have to be bikini material. You are probably already aware that there are plenty of ways to be seductive without dressing like a Baywatch Babe. A number of your friends on FB tell you how “hot” you look. But remember, whenever one of your friends comments on anything, ALL of their friends know (unless they choose to turn this option off). These other “friends” also have access not only to the picture commented on, but your ENTIRE album.
Scenario 2: you make a crude remark about a certain person’s attractiveness or lack of it on your wall or in a status update. I’ll give you an example I know of personally. A young guy, unmarried, put in his profile that he was surprised that one of his overweight female patients had a boyfriend (he’s a doctor in training). This guy has memorized the entire Quran. He teaches about Islam. He is not on my friends list. But I know about this comment through FB.
Now, a lot of guys could and do say cruel and inconsiderate stuff like that. But someone who’s memorized the Quran? Someone who teaches Islam? Someone who knows that God looks at our hearts not our appearances? I’m not saying he needs to go and marry someone overweight to atone for his comment. But it does say something about his character, doesn’t it?
Getting married nowadays has become a major struggle in the Muslim community for many reasons. There are plenty of explanations for it, which I’m not going to go into. But most relevant for the purpose of this letter is that Facebook can kill your prospects pretty quickly if you say or post something stupid. There are serious long-term consequences. If anything, FB offers people a look at your character. Stuff that you could easily hide in a meeting at a prospective spouse’s home for tea can easily be found on FB. Then, the flashy suit, six-figure salary, good looks and Ivy League education will quickly go out the window. Nobody wants to marry a jerk or a jerkette. And even if they decide to, these couples usually end up splitting up a couple of years down the road eventually. Few people today can stand day to day contact with a jerk or jerkette whether there are kids involved or not.
‘It’s not fair!’ you’re probably saying. You’re right. It isn’t always fair. An angry comment on your wall on a day you were ticked about something or a joke about a fat girl when you were in a jovial mood shouldn’t be the sole judge of your character. But those who aren’t your real life friends don’t really know that and are unlikely to care. Don’t judge a person by their Facebook profile is good advice, but few are there who will heed it.
So be careful. Converse with your friends, but be on guard. The potential for misunderstanding about who you really are is ripe on FB. And ultimately, remember that Allah is always watching, and we are all accountable for everything we say and do.
Auntie Who Cares
P.S. If you’re a parent, aunt, uncle or older sibling of a young Muslim on FB, please share the main points of this letter with him or her.
source: Chicago Muslim Parent