Choosing Disconnection: Living without Facebook

In May 2014, I decided I’m going sober, no more Facebook! Initially, my plan was to move on and never look back. You know, adopt that hipster old-fashioned life. My sobriety lasted for a good year, and I’m proud to say, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

By February 2014, my life wasn’t at its finest peak. I was questioning the usefulness of my university degree. Personal problems were piling up like a mountain of dirty laundry waiting to be washed when you run out of clothes. Self-confidence hit rock bottom. I gradually became mentally and emotionally exhausted. Spirituality kept weakening. I lost my motivation to be the enthusiastic, curious me. I had to go through a time of self-reflection. I came to realize that with all the challenges I’m facing in life, why am I showing a different side of me on Facebook?

That drove me to question the honesty of what makes me…me. Am I actually representing my true self on Facebook? Why do I even have a Facebook account? Why do I get so much satisfaction seeing all those likes on my selfies and posts? Why do I have this large number of friends on my “Friends List?” Can I actually describe the majority of them as friends? Why am I jealous when I see pictures of people being at places I wish to be at, or doing things I wish to do? Why am I wishing? Why the heck am I not doing? Ya Salma, why are you wasting and procrastinating so much time on this?

I felt really ugly – internally ugly. That’s not me. That’s not what I want to be. I had to disconnect.

So, I did and during that time, I gained some valuable learnings which I’d like to share.  And what better time than now, as the blessed month of Ramadan is fast approaching. It is very easy for us to focus on tangible acts of worship: more prayers, Quran speed reading, and giving in charity. While these practices are much respected and important, it’s the lack of contemplation that questions the positivity of their impact on our lives.

Ramadan is an opportunity to strike life and spiritual balance by bettering our habits. So humbly, and without further ado, here are my lessons I learned from disconnecting. I only hope they are of some benefit during and beyond this blessed month.

 

  1. Living in the present is about the hardest things you can do in life. Practice it and you’ll be just you.
  2. Learning new hobbies or sports reveal the hidden gems within you. Your hobby/sport (new or old) will become your stress reliever. It will pull you off the ground, and dust away whatever dirt that covers you from your fall, boosting your self-confidence.
  3. Put in more effort to hang out with friends. Meet them in person instead of Facebook messaging them. Call them instead of texting them. You’ll be surprised how many people will be touched by just hearing your voice.
  4. Your concentration and focus will be on point – hence, less distractions.
  5. Humility. Your pictures on social media don’t always have to be perfect. You’re not perfect. None of us are meant to be. The impressively visual world we live in, certainly makes it hard to accept our bodies as they are. We always aspire to look better. Which is not bad, but when the likes and shares give us our sense of reassurance for our worth, then that’s when it’s problematic. That’s when you need to observe, study, and appreciate the creation of the Creator more.
  6. Nature will reflect how beautiful and intricate of a creature you are.
  7. Instead of being jealous over achievements you could’ve accomplished, move your lazy bum and accomplish them. Stop building obstacles for yourself. You’ll be surprised what you are capable off.
  8. So you’ve achieved something! YOU ARE AMAZING! Don’t forget to remind yourself that you are loved (divinely and humanly) and blessed to be able to achieve what you just achieved. There are so many Godly gifts, privileges, and blessings that helped you be who you are and will be. Don’t take them for granted.
  9. Read. Read. Read. Goodness, the amount of books and useful knowledge I could’ve learned instead of scrolling down that newsfeed. Sigh.
  10. Reward yourself more. Ice-cream is the best reward, even in winter! Just saying.
  11. Always self-reflect so you can move forward.
  12. Finally, Facebook can be useful. Balance is key (easier said than done).

 

My year of disconnection was by no means an easy, happy-go lucky year. My grades crumpled beyond my expectations and I was disconnected from most activities and events on and off campus. It took me a whole year to explore the above lessons. Have I perfected all of them? Nope, I’m actually still practicing. They’ll always be a reminder to me whenever I feel like a funambulist juggling too many things on a tight rope.

I returned to Facebook. I would like to think not out of weakness, but because I knew why I needed to return and how to do so. If you want to disconnect this Ramadan, don’t do it to temporarily better yourself. Do it because you want to start raising your bar of awesomeness beyond Ramadan. Grant yourself the opportunity for self-reflection and self-appreciation. You deserve it.

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