I have a love-hate relationship with facebook. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 10 years or so, facebook is an online networking website, kind of like myspace, freindster and other such websites. My love for facebook began roughly about a year ago. I realized that it was far more professional than myspace was. Facebook wasn't just about adding as many friends as possible it was about joining networks and making friends within those networks.
Facebook allowed me to search my friends and acquaintances through the networks that they belonged to. It allowed me to link to a friend from the profile of another friend. It also facilitated a lot of the MSA work I did in that many speakers were on facebook and many of the MSA presidents from other schools were easily contactable through facebook. And of course, it facilitated the advertisement of MSA events.
Facebook also makes it extremely easy for me to keep in touch with my family that lives over seas. It allows me to communicate with them and stay updated with their lives and it also allows me to share pictures with them. And while I love the pictures....I also hate them.
I hate facebook for its pictures because it is often too telling of an individual's character and often times it just shares more information than is necessary to be shared. I read somewhere that "Facebook is the greatest test for the 70 excuses rule" and it is so true! Honestly, what conclusion can one draw from a picture in which there is a Muslim girl who is at a bar with beer and alcohol bottles on the table in front of her and she is holding a a martini glass?
Here is my attempt at providing this sister with 70 excuses:
1. The martini glass has water in it
2. Perhaps her drink is a virgin drink (i.e. containing no alcohol)
3. Maybe she is holding her friends martini glass (but then why is she posing with it?)
6. Clearly I am running out of excuses (can someone help me out?)
I can honeslty say that in the amount of time I have spent of facebook I have lost a ton of respect for a lot of the brothers and sisters I know. People that I grew up with, people that I have always respected and that my family respects have this awful habit of posting pictures on their facebook pages for the world to see of themselves misbehaving. There are pictures of sisters with brothers with their arms around one another, sisters dressed provocatively, brothers posting pictures with captions that contain profanity, my list can go on and on. These are Muslims that I see at the Masjid on a regular basis I am hurt to see that this is the direction that our ummah is heading in.
Facebook has also paved the way for open mingling between the genders. It first starts off as a POKE, because this is the only way to poke a non-mehram without actually touching him. Soon, it progresses into a friend request. Next thing you know, you're looking at his pictures (and posting pictures of you looking more beautiful than usual for the sheer intention of having him see them) and you're leaving him random comments on his wall asking him about how his day was, all the while you're thinking "there is no way that this is haraam, everyone can see. we're not alone!" And if wall-flirting wasn't enough, facebook decided to add facebook chat to the mix, and now you can talk to your "brother-friend" in realtime.
I often wonder if these brothers and sisters realize that they are posting pictures of their trips to Las Vegas with their boyfriends and girlfriends or if they know that they are posting it do they know that I and everyone else on their facebook can see them? I wonder when I say salaams to them if they know that I know about their double lives.
For a while, I shut down my facebook because to me it facilitated shaytans attempt at making Muslims backbite their brother's and sister's. I hated facebook for making me see the bad in my peers and for making me judge them based off of what I saw on their pages. The way I am, I like to look for the good in people in that if a perosn is nice to me and treats me with respect that's enough for me to conclude that this person is a nice individual, but facebook has done a good job of ruining that for me. Because I feared judging my brother or sister and because I despised backbiting them, I made the decision to shut down my facebook. I soon realized that without my facebook, I was saving a lot more time, sometimes even hours on end.
Currently, my facebook is back. I tried to stay away from it for as long as I possibly could, but life was much too dificult without it, especially with the community work that I do, its very hard for me to get in contact with people in my community without the convenience of simply typing in their name and searching it. Nonetheless, I am trying not to aimlessly browse through others' facebook pages for fear that I will find somethng that will require 70 excuses and for fear that it will cause me to pass judgement on another Muslim.