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Log off and live life

Published Jan 21, 2012 01:27pm


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“I think all this Facebook stuff should just stop!” said Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, at a recent Islamic convention. “Live your lives. Go out; take walks amongst trees.”

I did a Google search on Facebook and Twitter addictions, and I got so many hits that I decided not to bother backing up claims of widespread social media addiction. Some people can’t seem to get uninterrupted sleep through the night because of their cravings to check Facebook comments and messages and to see how many of their tweets are retweeted and faved.


The first thing people do, including I, when they wake up in the morning is log onto social-media platforms.

What’s mind-boggling is that people have to disable social media networks to get their lives back and others have to go as far as to commit “Twittercide” to pull themselves together. I found several articles that offer self-help tips to overcome Facebook and Twitter addiction.

One tweeter who had to bid farewell to his 25,000 followers late last year wrote in his confessions published in the New York Times, “What did I get out of it? Certainly not fortune or fame — on Twitter I was, for the most part, anonymous,” wrote Larry Carlart. “But for me, every tweet was a performance.”

He was fired from work because of his “performance” on Twitter and a month later he separated from his wife. And it is only fitting to let him tell you where he went wrong: “Instead of tweeting to reflect on my life, tweeting had become my life.”

The idea of putting your hundred per cent effort into carving a tweet is beyond me. I prefer to keep it simple and often steer away from tweeps who use foul language; it really irks me.

While parents have to draw a line for their kids using social media sites, we have to draw a line for ourselves. It’s very easy to get carried away and spend hours checking updates, staring at pictures, adding people tagged in the pictures, adding from “People You May Know” list, and commenting on other’s statuses.

Though it’s is nice to get invites to random events and groups, one wonders what’s the point of social media when you don’t actually interact, exchange ideas and learn from others.

Just the other day, Mustafa Davis, a photographer and filmmaker, wrote on his Facebook status: “I really enjoy being constantly added to new totally random FB group pages. I feel obliged to start reciprocating all the joy by adding folks to some of my new pages, such as... Guppie Fish Rights Awareness page / I'm Not A Narcicist But Please Pay Attention To Me page / Foundation To Educate Blind Amazonian Monkeys In Antarctica page / I Don't Have A Real Idea For A Page But I'm Going To Start A Group Anyways page... also when you leave my group I'll think it was an accident so I'll add you back at least three or four more times.”

That really happens. And it says a lot about our narcissistic tendencies, and our inability to use social media platforms for social interactions, learning and intellectual stimulation rather than as a source of procrastination.

Here are two thought-provoking Facebook statuses that made it worthwhile for me to log on to the site last week:

“There is a flower in the seed.” –Imam Abdul Latif

“Majnun would stare at the full moon. When asked why, he replied: maybe Layla might look, too, & our glances meet.” –Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

My interests are fairly obvious from the above two quotes. But if you’re a techie, you can follow tech gurus; if you’re a news buff, you can follow some of the top news people; if you’re a poet, you can follow poets and join poetry groups. Be productive.

Social media is deemed addictive when it takes precedence over human interaction. And it’s counterproductive when you’re only stalking people.

The revered scholar made another interesting point in his talk is about taking pictures, which is somewhat related and relevant to our discussion here. “Stop taking pictures and start experiencing life,” said Shaykh Yusuf.

Last year, a friend and I traveled to Luxor, with the aim to see all the major pharaonic sites. One evening, we watched the Karnak Sound and Light Show, during which I was more engrossed in taking pictures than listening to the walking tour. I had my reasons—this was the only way I could get into the temple complex at night. And, you know what, the statue of Ramesses II looks beautiful against the blue skies in the backdrop.

Next morning, we revisited the Karnak temple and I ended up doing more or less the same. Even though we went from precinct to precinct, trying to understand the progression of skills incorporated by the artisans, and the nuances of gods and the commissioning pharaohs, I still walked out with a feeling of discontent.

So we went the third time with picnic comprised of dates and peanuts. Since I had enough pictures for my few active and exponentially more passive friends on Facebook, I enjoyed experiencing Karnac through the whites of my eyes. I positioned myself on the base of a column in the Precinct of Amun Re and relished the sunlight hitting the Hypostyle columns, which are chubby at the bottom and glutted with hieroglyphics. And it is the third visit that I remember most fondly when I think of the Luxor trip in my head.

It is worth experiencing life beyond the social media and seeing things with your naked eyes. And it is so much more beautiful to cherish the moment and to capture an image through your heart than to click away.

Fahad Faruqui is a journalist, writer and educator. Alumni Columbia University. You can email him at

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Comments (16) Closed

pakistani Jan 21, 2012 06:21pm
beautiful spot on media maybe good but but most of the ppl just forget other positive activities by doing it too much, but no no social media could give equalvelent exp as natural events and interection in real world.
Attaullah Jan 21, 2012 07:07pm
Waleed Jan 21, 2012 10:51pm
can't agree more
sam Jan 22, 2012 03:13am
"It is worth experiencing life beyond the social media and seeing things with your naked eyes. And it is so much more beautiful to cherish the moment and to capture an image through your heart than to click away." THE NEED OF THE HOUR ! Keep writing! :)
A frustrated sociali Jan 22, 2012 05:21am
This is an incredible piece! A lot of people need to realize this. Social media should be used as a form of social interaction, not the ONLY form of interaction. Yes social media has done some good for this world, but it has stopped people from getting out of their homes and ACTUALLY hanging out with friends. Pictures are taken for the sole purpose of uploading them on facebook and tagging friends. I'd rather not have social media and bring back the days when MSN Messenger was the next best thing after sliced bread.
curious Jan 22, 2012 08:44am
The hype of social media is dying down. Life is meant to be experienced. But I am a bit surprsied that it took a mullah to make you see this. Most of the truths can be realized by plain old commonsense.
AJB Jan 22, 2012 02:57pm
couldn't agree more . kudos!
Abid Shad (Pakistai Jan 22, 2012 03:32pm
Good Knock by Fahad Faruqui - agreed above 100% - our social life is disturbed at high level as our young generatation do not like BOOKS; a real motivaters and character-polishing tool!!!!!. We are a looser through this hi-tech media!!!!!!! This is a reality Mr Fahad is pointing out......think twice please.
Mehmudah Rehman Jan 22, 2012 04:02pm
Well written!! Social Media can certainly become counter-productive.
Tariq Jan 22, 2012 04:03pm
I totally agree with its content. There is one more angle to look from about such "social" websites. It is quite possible that certain governmental intelligence agencies may be setting up such social websites to trace connections of different people. It is not a hidden truth that the messages and conversations are randomly scanned. People are not realizing that they are losing a lot of their privacy to these sites. Who is given what gift, who is marrying who, what parties I attended, what are my future plans, what has my spouse done to me, are just a few issues to mention that are commonly found and discussed on such websites. Beware of WATCHDOGS!!!
ali Jan 22, 2012 05:31pm
good piece of writing! i you can be addict to social media only if u one forces you to do this...besides that addiction i guess social media helps one to keep in touch with relatives and mom used to watch our activities through facebook..
JPositive Jan 22, 2012 06:15pm
I have been working with computers since 1988 and I was fascinated when I first came across internet. But somehow, somehow, I never liked the idea, the concept of facebook and twitter. While they are good mechanisms for keeping you abreast about your near and dear ones, it is that necessary in this age of communication? Why are we forgetting that face to face interaction is the essence of human life? We as human beings are born to live in real communities and not in virtual ones. Internet for me has always being a product and an enabler of individualism and I therefore cannot believe that it will ever result in building communities!
vinny Jan 22, 2012 08:57pm
There was such a scare when Indian skies opened upto satellite tv. Midnight movies and cultural invasion were feared to create havoc in the society. But doubtful '80s did give way to freer '90s and now we are here in 2012, more mature than ever before. Social websites are nothing but the evolution of Instant Messengers. Euphoria will die down soon. Already there are quite a few who are losing interest in the social media. Just as tv is boring today, social media network will come of age and loose its lustre with passage of time. One has to live through these phases. You cannot keep indoors always fearing car accidents. Let our children grow out of this addiction to social media, just the way they do with video games etc.
Marvi Jan 22, 2012 09:49pm
Nice piece of writing....! This article made me happy because Yet I have not made any account on the popular social networks but was thinking to go with it. But after reading this article I have decided no to facebook etc. For me only books are worth keeping and reading. Thanks a lot..!! Keep it up...!!
Muhammad Farooq Jan 23, 2012 11:02am
thought provoking, let me share it on face book. Thanks.
shabbzz Jan 23, 2012 11:56am
Good Article !!! I would only add here "Excess of Everything is WRONG" you can use social media but don let social media use you..... Yes there surely is life beyond FACEBOOK !!!