By Hamna Salman – Hiba magazine Team Writer
Social media will destroy you. The addiction to screens will eat you up alive. All these kids do is scroll and scroll for hours on their end.
We have heard it all. The negative aspects of social media, its disadvantages, the downfall it incurs – there is no shortage of webinars, podcasts, and workshops to educate us on this topic. Yet, it is difficult to comprehend exactly how deadly and toxic the world within our screen can be. We know the harms, but let us take a closer look into how these directly strike and wreak havoc into various aspects of our lives.
From a psychological viewpoint, social media reduces our cognitive function, causes memory deficits, and leads to a shorter attention span.
Focus and concentration levels are the first to be affected – a dilemma which has worsened especially due to the introduction of short videos named reels. These are a few seconds long, which means every few seconds our minds jump from one topic to the next to the next.
Once our mind is conditioned to not focusing on a subject for longer than a minute, at most, paying attention in class, during a test or exam, or at a meeting at work, becomes a difficult task. Worldly progress is hampered, leading to low self-esteem and a constant feeling of failure.
Our religion, Islam, encourages us to live mindfully. We are told to look at Allah’s (swt) creation, and through that, recognize the Creator. When our attention span becomes compromised, contemplating on Allah’s (swt) Signs in the universe and the verses of the Quran starts seeming like a huge challenge. The mind is no longer able to ponder deeply over society. Self-evaluation becomes harder, and brainstorming ways to do more and more good deeds becomes a dormant habit.
All these are tasks that require us to slow our minds down, and deliberate – something that we find ourselves lacking the ability to do because our brains are accustomed to racing at top speed, from one topic to another.
Social media is addicting – a statement we can all testify to. It sucks you in. The dopamine released when a notification pops up on our phone gives rise to instant gratification.
It makes you feel good, albeit temporary, and your brain starts to crave more of what released those happy chemicals, leading to social media addiction. You want more and more and more, and there never comes a point where you are fully satisfied.
Now, with no filter or censorship in place, the content on social media, is questionable to say the least. All sorts of information are available at a single glance. From vulgarity, profanity, and drug paraphernalia, Instagram and TikTok are filled with sin glamourized. From sexual innuendos, to jokes about private parts, it is impossible to not come across something that is free of indecency. As much as you try to avoid it, it just pops up, precisely when you least expect it.
In our minds, these memes, or reels, normalize sins. We become desensitized to evil.
Initially, it makes us uncomfortable but overtime, constant exposure to these foul things conditions us to believe it is okay, leading to acceptance. Failure to recognize wrong is damaging for our Iman, as it sets the ground for committing the sin itself.
The only solution is limiting our time on these platforms. We can not control these sporadic posts coming up out of the blue in front of our eyes. Our only option is to exert self-discipline, and start spending time off-line. We can not control the content put up by other, but what we can control is how much time we spend exposed to it.
Now, social media is not without its benefits. We get useful information within seconds. As a teenager interested in fashion and beauty, social media brings me access to trends and makeup looks, so believe me, I do not deny the positive information I have gotten off these platforms. But, in search of this, I have come across all sorts of unwarranted posts.
There are alternatives to accessing information that is resourceful and advantageous. Podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts etc. are host to everything under the sun that can help you out in almost every area. This way, you have a safe route of honing your skills and developing them, without polluting your thoughts. Because these blog posts and videos are longer, and more detailed, they are also not as damaging for our attention spans. They are in fact better for our brains, because they allow us to learn something new, and it prevent our brains from rusting.
As we indulge in the social media in one form or the other every day, it becomes all the more important to access and understand the Quran on a daily basis alongside.
This grants us spiritual strength to deal with our temptations, curb wastage of time and even prevents us from sinning. Its literally a battle of mind over matter. Quran teaches us to use and filter stuff with our mindfulness and the social media wants to feed us more and more material that corrupts our souls and finally control our minds.
It is so crucial to use the internet to our benefit. For better or for worse, it has the power to change our lives. It can allow us to reach our highest potentials, and conquer feats we did not even know we could, if we use it to our advantage. On the flipside, it can also bring us crashing down, by shattering our morals, dragging us away from our religion, and shredding apart our minds.
The trick is to mindfully plan to control the social media usage, before it sweeps us away like worthless dust.