[Faith Friday] Be Like the Bee: Sincerity in the Age of Social Media

After reading David Coolidge's post on sincerity, I thought about the things that have affected or can affect my sincerity. One of it is the pressure to fulfill people's expectations of who I should be as a Muslim. I briefly touched on this issue in My Muslim Identity Crisis. I think people don't realise that guilt-shaming others doesn't inspire them to do good for the sake of Allah but to appease the public instead.

It crossed my mind that this challenge with sincerity could be a common problem among social media users and public figures. It ultimately boils down to this: when we lose sight of our true purpose in life we tend to use publicity to seek validation and to feel important in a world where it's easy for us and our voices to drown in a sea of people vying for attention for whatever reason it may be. Our addiction and obsession with social media (or anything worldly, for that matter) is a sign that we are looking for God and/or love in all the wrong places. This clouds our judgement and compels us to do things we know aren't right for us.

As a millenial, I know what it's like to grow up without the Internet and I'm beginning to see the subtle danger social media presents in our lives but the younger Internet generation will never quite understand. All their peers are leading the same lifestyle. "This is water" for them.

I don't blame technology but the "look at me culture" we've created that's detrimental to our hearts and souls. While social acceptance and a sense of belonging are important it's much more crucial to establish sincerity in our hearts, live sincerely and practice authenticity in our everyday lives.

Constantly putting our feelings, thoughts and activities on display in a world where we can't trust everyone makes us vulnerable to external validation and envy (hasad) and yet we do it without thinking twice. But Allah (swt) wants us to be aware and to be thoughtful in everything we do - our thoughts, actions and speech - and not it's easy because we are human and we have our downfalls but it's our responsibility to try and live more consciously and conscientiously while staying true to ourselves and practicing self-compassion.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.  
The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.  
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
"This is water."
"This is water."
- the late David Foster Wallace's university commencement speech at Kenyon College, Ohio

I realised that ever since I joined Instagram I've been spending more time than I'd like to on my smartphone. It's not what I want for my life — to not truly savour my existence because I was too occupied on the Internet to spend time with my loved ones and appreciate their presence in my life, to read the Qur'an or that book I bought recently because it seemed interesting, to work out or to be part of a community because I was too involved in online ones.

How much of what we do online will truly benefit us and others, in this life and the hereafter? Our purpose is to serve God and humanity sincerely. Are we... am I... attempting and achieving that? 

Perhaps the only solution to achieve sincerity is to take Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan's advice: Be like the bee which moves with humility, gives more than it takes and produces sweet goodness for itself and others. When you've discovered something good, a source of provision (rizq) or have tips on how to be successful, be like the bee who knows it can't build a community on its own so it shares knowledge with its fellow bees by doing a dance to communicate the co-ordinates of flowers. By all means, use social media and be heard but have a mission, a purpose but don't be arrogant and conceited along the way.  This perfectly describes the life of mu'meen who is sincerely living for Allah (swt).

And your Lord revealed to the bee saying: Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build: Then eat of all the fruits and walk in the ways of your Lord submissively. There comes forth from within it a beverage of many colours, in which there is healing for men; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect. (Surah an-Nahl, 68 - 69)


Rayhaanah said…
lovely post - you mention some very important points - beautiful truth! may we each live with sincerity, striving for His Pleasure, always - ameen.
Syamimi Supian said…
This is beautiful and right on! Sometimes I do feel like I've taken too much time on social media and has lost that REAL interaction with people. May Allah (swt) guides us always.
natashahudson said…
Im totally feeling this post. Great reminder for us,for me...
Miza said…
Good point.
And yes, I agree that ever since I had Instagram, I am like, glued to my smartphone. I am trying to spend less time on social sites now - basically by reducing the amount of statuses I post on FB and the pictures I upload on instagram (although most of the times, I upload pictures of mountains). I also follow only my selected few friends so I don't feel the urge to scroll down the newsfeed all the time because they are basically nothing new to look at. May Allah bless you!