The other day I was listening to a well-structured message on a social media platform. It bordered on our responsibility to each other as people regardless of our many differences. The speaker was apt, to the point, and brief but captivating as well. It got my rapt attention. I learned a lot, a very lot. In the end though, the speaker called on listeners to completely avoid paying attention and get off social networking. I found that to be a bit ironic.
Not to take away the good that the speaker had done to listeners, I began to imagine what if I had stayed away from social networks. I would have missed the well-informed message of the speaker.
The good speaker isn’t the only person to miss the point. Many others do. Particularly those I consider fake preacher-men and women who, at the top of their voices would condemn others’ participation on social media
A couple of weeks ago someone sent me an audio message on WhatsApp in which the speaker claimed to be speaking God’s words. He condemned to hellfire all those participating in social media activities. I laughed it off because here was someone using a social media platform to speak to others yet condemning them for what he, too was doing. It reminded me of a Taliban fighter who once was condemning White people and non-Muslims of his skewed definition of Islam but who at the same time was on top of a Harley Davidson motorcycle and was showing off his glittering wristwatch. I wondered where in Taliban country he thought they manufacture a wristwatch or a motorcycle.
I think the appropriate advice should be to caution people to be mindful of what they do, say, listen to, distribute, and participate in on social media.
Given, there is plenty of mischievous people on social networks; criminals, child molesters; fake preachers and religious bigots and thieves of every religion; drama queens and foolish men and women; pretenders; know-it-alls, backbiters; family and home wreckers; slanderers; devils in human form, etc., etc. But there have been plenty of good that social media have brought about. Plenty!
People have been able to gain access to many worthy developments and lifesaving information. Social media serve as appropriate channels to bring people together for worthy causes. They bridge communities and people, including distant and long-forgotten friends and relatives. They provide us the opportunity by which we can celebrate with friends and loved ones during joyful moments while also come together to mourn, console, encourage, and stand by others during challenging times.
Social media also create job opportunities in many areas including photography and the beauty and fashion industry. Imagine the amount to money young women spend these days to take those beautiful birthday pictures just so to look extra cute on their Facebook postings, and the cameramen and women too who are making it.
Without a doubt some of the most aptly, intellectual, and educative messages of faith from our local faith leaders and those we do not even know have come through social network forums.
Currently, with the whole world grounded as a result of the Coronavirus leading to the closure of workplaces, worship houses, doctors’ visits, funeral services, cinemas, classrooms, libraries and other assembly points of human activities, social networking sites like WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Zoom, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Linked In, LiveJournal and Skype have adequately filled the gap in positive and rewarding ways.
So. Instead of condemning people’s uses of social media in such a blanket way, we must encourage them to do so responsibly. Social media is not a problem. How we use it is what matters.
Aroun Rashid Deen