The good and evil of social media

By Puteri Othman

The advent of Internet and the development of ICT has brought about the emergence of new media which are supposed to benefit mankind. Many social media sites have been set up or established today to cater for public needs in the modern era. Hence, we find people using the social media for various purpose such as to do online business, to seek and share information and knowledge, for networking as well as to seek for entertainment or even for fun. Yet there are others who tend to use the social media for something evil through acts of distortion, spinning, manipulation or fabrication of facts.

With too much of exposure, people tend to reveal more about themselves when they are actually not supposed to do so. And if they were to do that by their responses and reactions there will be people or groups of people who oppose their views or go against them openly that could infringe on other people’s privacy. This may result in what we call cyber bullying.

As Muslims, we are taught to deal with people in a good way. In this case, we need to correct others by advising and not condemning. In surah Al Hujurat, verse 11, Allah SWT commands the people of the book not to find fault with your own people or to call one another by nickname. Providing advice by enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is part of Islamic teaching. But nowadays, people choose to give advice openly without consideration on the sensitivities of others or not realising that they hurt the feelings of others. Their advice turned up to be more of condemnation than trying to correct the situation.

When one takes the role of advising people, it involves ‘walking a slippery slope’ or a tendency of going overboard because one might cross the line of mutual respect and get into condemning each other. When one senses the feelings of condemnation, he or she will become defensive and will do anything to protect his or her ego. Thus, this could lead to a souring of relationship. The bond of brotherhood is often emphasised in the Quran and in the Sunnah, and even in the practical action of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. In surah Al Hujurat, verse 10, it says that all Muslims are brothers. So, why is it that most Muslims frequently forget about the bond of brotherhood when it is reminded over and over again in the Quran? As we can see nowadays, relationship is easily damaged due to minor disputes, and one of those minor arguments is bound to happen when one attempts to advise openly on social media which might be taken as an insult to the person’s pride.

As we all know, every problem has its own possible solution. Thus, what are we supposed to do to avoid from passing derogatory remarks against others in the process of trying to advise the person? Every action starts with intention, hence the first thing to do is to purify our intention.

Ask ourself first whether we sincerely intend to help the person or our intention is only trying to belittle the person. By asking the question, it can reveal our hidden intention. When we want to correct others, it’s best to keep the conversation or communication private rather than making it public. If we were to do it openly, chances are that it will further humiliate the person.

Allah SWT has warned us in the Quran, “Verily, those who love that the evil and indecent actions of those who believe should be propagated (and spread), they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.”

Therefore, we should refrain ourselves from using the social media in the wrong or evil way to spread negative things about others. When we give advice to people, we need to bear in mind not to look at other people’s fault, instead try to sincerely correct them by interacting in a proper manner. It starts from us.***

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