Taking selfies can be more damaging than you think.
I have an addiction. No I am not addicted to drugs, or alcohol, or anything that is traditionally deemed as destructive. However, deep down I know I have an addiction that could possibly be destructive. I am addicted to taking selfies. At first, I was all about just taking pictures of friends and families just to capture the moment. But it was when I was ruining happy moments to take selfies that I realized that my hobby of taking pictures has gone too far. Who am I really posting all my selfies for? I should be actually basking in the fun moments with my family versus taking a multiple pictures only to “delete” most of them and keep only the ones I thought were the most flattering.
My moment of realization actually came with seeing the movie Divergent. In the movie, there is a group of people called Abnegation who are kind and think of others. They deny themselves “pleasures” in order to stay connected to feeling empathy for others. One pivotal thing I noticed was that this group of people did not spend too much time looking in the mirror because they felt it bred vanity. When I saw this scene, I felt a moment of realization. I was spending way too much time worrying about how I look, taking selfies, and getting ready than I did about my fellow Muslims in Syria and all over the world. As I was trying to connect via selfies, I was actually disconnecting with reality.
Time recently reported how a teenager almost committed suicide when he came to realization that he couldn’t take the “perfect” selfie. Danny Bowman told The Mirror: “I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t I wanted to die,” Bowman told the Daily Mirror. “I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.”
I am opening up about my addiction with you lovelies because it is one that is spreading in our lovely Ummah faster than you can say bismillah. Like any new technology, there is good and bad that comes with it. The one nice thing about Instagram and selfies is that it has definitely normalized hijab for Americans. It has also served as inspiration for many sisters in the community who want to dress modestly, but also want to look stylish as well. However, the negative aspect is when you start to worry you are not “stylish” enough, harass your loved ones to take a ton of pictures of you, and you interrupt a perfectly lovely meal just to take snaps of yourself with food. I am not judging anyone. This post is about me. I am ashamed to admit that this is me. However, I do want to change. I have decided not to take pictures of myself no more than once a week. I have also promised myself to treat myself kindly. I know I may not be a super hijabi fashionista, but I try to be a good mom, wife and valued member of the community who helps others.
In fact, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf gave a khutba at MCC recently where he said that selfies should really be called nafsies (nafs is the term used for a human’s base desires and instincts). Do we really want to give in to our nafs on a daily basis? I know I don’t and I will try my best to stop myself from this selfie tendency. Here is what the Shaykh has said:
The end is coming and people will do anything to occupy their time to avoid the inevitability of Death.
People are completely distracted and they are not present in their lives.
People completely fade away as we are living in a very trivialized civilization.
The Prophet (peace & blessings upon him) has warned: the “The intellects will be removed from people”; these are our Prophetic traditions.
Do I really want to be one of those people whose intellect has been removed? I personally was scared when I heard this. I am so very lucky to have scholars locally here in the Bay Area to remind me, but I am writing this post to remind you. Let’s remove this selfie addiction and replace it with something more positive, like Suhaib Webb’s “Rug Life” if we feel the need to take a picture.
While I am still working on my digital addiction, I know it will take time. Granted, this is more self diagnosis than via a health professional, but I know it is something I need to change. Do any of you feel like you have the “selfie shakes” (when you literally start itching to take a selfie)? Let me know in the comments below.