“I only have 250 friends on Facebook and 20 followers on Instagram,” I thought to myself.
As a college educated adult, this should not have mattered. But the truth is that it killed me. I wanted to feel important and loved too. I had good health, a supportive family and friends, yet still I was deeply unsatisfied.
Everything felt mediocre – I felt a sense of boredom, lack of interest, focus and, worst of all, I felt my confidence slipping away.
To fill the need for being loved and wanted – I would try to get affirmation of my self-worth from the number of likes and comments on various social media platforms
The rat race continued for a few months and then there was the physical and spiritual burn out – Guilt, confusion, lack of identity and exhaustion had taken over.
I was a Muslim – a person who submits themselves to the Will of God, I was not going against the commandments and I was nice person – why did I feel so worthless and empty? I started researching – I google-searched about God and how to live a fulfilled life. I was brought to a lecture given by Yasmin Mogahed who laid it out for me. Get rid of your false attachments and realign and affirm that only God Almighty can bring peace and tranquility into our hearts. She explained that the emptiness I was feeling was a metaphorical hole in my heart that needed to be filled with the remembrance of God – instead I was looking to social media.
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In the Muslim Prophetic tradition – there is a great emphasis on reflecting on physical manifestations and natural surroundings. I was living in such a hyper-connected and artificial world that I took a few minutes and started to spend more time outdoors. In Islam, the Abrahamic prophets such as Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Moses are all revered and their stories are related in the Islamic Holy Book, The Quran.
Following the example of the great prophets, I too connected with nature and began to put away my smart phone. This was a huge step as this device was closer to me than any other material thing that I owned. Once I realized the reality I knew I had to keep going – I was tired of being controlled by an IPhone 6 and a few Apps.
It was very hard. Every minute in which I was not being stimulated by the internet, I felt a sense of panic and confusion,
“How will I know what happened in the world today if I don’t know what hashtags are trending?
But I knew I had a problem – My heart was aching for something real and this was my first step to gaining back control of my life. The detox got easier and easier with each passing day. I knew that the root problem of my self-worth, identity and confusion were resulting in the lack of meaningful dialogue with my Creator.
That realization was a process and it continues to be a process – It has now been a few months since I went through this social media cleanse – to say that I have conquered this attachment to social media would be lying. However, I have understood it and I have perspective and a game plan to keep it in check.
The reality is that once I formed a meaningful connection with God, I realized everything else is just an attachment and a short term distraction. I have my eye on the prize, which is Heaven, and getting there may be as easy as closing my apps and opening my heart to the Divine presence of God.