5 Tips To Use Social Media More Responsibly

Social Media have definitely pivoted the world into a new era of digitalisation. Here are some best practices for our Social Media usage.
by Ustazah Amalina Abdul Nasir 2022-08-17 • 13 min read
Ustazah Amalina is a Product Policy Manager with the Trust & Safety team at TikTok. Prior to this, she was with the Global Intelligence team at Meta, and a Terrorism Analyst at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. She spent 12 years in Madrasah Al-Ma’arif Al-Islamiah before pursuing her double Major Degree (Sociology and Corporate Communication) in Singapore Management University. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, with a certificate in Terrorism Studies.
2022-08-17 • 13 min read

Important Social Media practices

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Social Media is increasingly playing more roles in our daily lives. It has gone beyond connecting us to new people, with like-minded people, or even with people across the globe. 

It has transformed to provide an array of services that cater to our wants and needs: ranging from news to the ability to purchase goods. It has seemingly transferred the real world to the digital space, mentally teleporting us from the real world to the world of ideals on social media.

Technology companies controlling these platforms work to curate and provide you with the best experience based on your behaviour on the platform. It picks bits and pieces of the content you like, comment, upload, or even search to bring you all what – they think – you want and need in a bubble. 

As this syncs closer to your liking, it becomes a form of escapism from our reality. You can’t help but be on Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and the likes and scroll on your feed first thing in the morning or even on your commute! 

We enjoy the experience so much that time absolutely flies without us knowing. It comes to no surprise that almost 90% of us spend more than 2 hours daily on social media![1]

Given the buffet of information and virtual cues, it indirectly influences our view - of others and the world, our opinion, and our behaviour online. Subconsciously, it is shaping us. 

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On that note, how can we stay true to ourselves? We certainly need some guidelines on ethical social media practices. Here are 5 tips for us to consider:

Making Good Judgment

With social media making life more convenient, getting services at our fingertips, the same can be said with feeding us information. In fact, we are constantly overwhelmed with information from both formal and informal sources (friends, friends of friends, groups, news groups, shared posts, and many more.), such as the social network we create on these platforms.

The virality of some pieces of information drives us to believe that the information is credible and authentic given the scale that the information was passed along. Naturally, we would think that it is true since other netizens (and some posts can go up to 1k shares!) believe it. 

The lack of ability to discern and make good judgment calls on this information has led to many being victims of fraud, scams and even bullying behaviours. 

When you stumble upon information that is viral, sensationalised, and dramatised, such as those accompanied with screenshots, photos of other people or accusations, take a pause. Attempt to check with credible news outlets or close friends and connections who may have heard of it or may be able to verify the authenticity of the information.

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If the dubious information you received mentions something specific to Singapore, you can refer to the following websites first:

1. Muis Clarifies 

2. MOH > Clarifications on Misinformation regarding COVID-19 provides succinct clarifications regarding to COVID-19 rumours and fake news in Singapore, with links to relevant sources in some cases.

3. Factually > Clarifications on misinformation regarding the Coronavirus disease 2019 - this is useful for tracking COVID-19 misinformation debunked by Ministries and government agencies. Do check the in-depth articles

4. and POFMA cases listed on the main Factually page.

This is a practice that is absolutely synonymous with us as Muslims. There are many reminders in our tradition which prompt us to check, verify and ask those who know. One such is the verse from the Quran: 

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِۦ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْبَصَرَ وَٱلْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْـُٔولًا

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge; surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these shall be questioned (in the Day of Judgement).”

(Surah Al-Isra’,17:36)

Read: 6 Things Every Muslim Should Know About Fake News

Focus 

The wonders of social media encourage us to expand our network and connect us to more people, pages, and content. Before we know it, our stream of information balloons and we are consuming different types of information every time we serve our feed.

Varying thematic pieces of information impedes our ability to focus. Our mind hops from one content to another before we are able to comprehensively digest and process what we just read or watch. As we speed through the tsunami of information, we make a habit of consuming content that is terse. We gravitate to headlines, captions or posts that can conveniently attract our attention. Before we know it, we have spent more than an hour just scrolling through the feed!

As we cultivate a more purposeful use of social media, we can be more intentional with the time we spend on social media. When we surf with a clearer objective in mind (even if it is for leisure, fun or a form of de-stress!), we are able to maximize the time we allocate and mentally ensure we do not side track.

Read: The Power of Intention in Islam: 3 Things You Need to Know 

For example, if we hop on social media to read the morning news, or to search for baking recipes, we indirectly hold ourselves accountable to achieve that objective end to end, before giving ourselves the treat to surf freely. This helps us to be more focused and be in control with how we spend our time on social media, instead of it controlling us.

Be Mindful 

For some of us, part of our genuine intention of using social media is to remain in touch with different groups of friends, newfound friends or strangers. That puts us at the receiving end of reading and interacting with content that they share, which lies on a huge spectrum; from family updates, happy news, frustrations, reactions to people or their likes and dislikes. 

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Depending on what they share, it may prime and indirectly form our impression of them. 

Certain posts, too, may trigger us to react positively and negatively. This becomes unhealthy social media consumption when we start to feel envious, unhappy or frown on others based on what they share. Hence, being intentional with our use of these platforms helps us from being involved (or too involved) in the affairs of others. As Muslims, how do we safeguard our hearts from the murkiness of envy or insecurity when we are on social media?

Here’s a Dua we can adopt:

اللَّهُمَّ عَافِنِي مِنْ شَرِّ سَمْعِي وَبَصَرِي وَلِسَانِي وَقَلْبِي وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَنِيِّ

O Allah, protect me from the evil of my hearing, my seeing, my tongue and my heart, and from the evil of my sexual discharge (fornication)

(Sunan an-Nasai)

Read: Unpacking Hate Speech

Share the Positive 

While we practice being more aware and mindful of how we react to people’s postings and content, we should also be mindful of what we share and feed to others’ feeds. Ranging from airing our frustrations, opinions on issues, sharing great news or even to our daily activities, we express a lot on these platforms.

Read: 4 Lessons on Adab in Advocacy

As Muslims, we are aware that we will be held accountable for our actions. This includes how we conduct and behave in the virtual world. Hence, we are encouraged to share and spread positivity. Spreading goodness and consuming positive content helps with our psychological wellbeing as we spend time online. 

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While we set out to sincerely share the positives and highlights of our journey, we are not able to control how others would react. As we strive to avoid any form of jealousy when looking at others’ posts as we discussed above, we need to also set in place measures to protect ourselves against the insecurity or ill-intention of others. 

For this, we can practice this Dua every time we intent to post and share on social media: 

أُعِيذُكُمَا بِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ التَّامَّةِ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ وَهَامَّةٍ وَمِنْ كُلِّ عَيْنٍ لاَمَّةٍ

“I seek refuge for both of you in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous thing and from the evil eye which influences”

(Sunan Abi Daud)

Be Present

Above all the convenience, entertainment, and escape that social media brings, it is important that we learn to detach ourselves from the virtual world and be present in our reality. 

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We strive to build connections, put in time to keep up our social media presence and maintain an image. This may come at the expense of the people we have in this physical world. We may choose to conveniently rescind to our social media bubble even when we are in social gatherings, or in social situations that do not work in our favour.

Read: How Does Social Media Influence Online Radicalisation?

The intention and objective of bringing elements of the real world to virtual reality has never been to replace one over the other. The proliferation and use of social media are undeniable. We may become too dependent on these platforms, fail to prioritise and choose the curated world against reality. 

Hence, drawing a hard line on how we consume and engage in social media is important so that we do not lose sight or on the things, issues and people that truly matters.

Upon reflecting on these practices, it's time to ask the fundamental question: do we dictate the use of social media, or do we let social media control us? Why and how have we been using it?

 


[1] https://www.theglobalstatistics.com/singapore-social-media-statistics/

 


Look out for our upcoming physical Just Ask! AYN event this 27th August!

Register now at: https://justaskayn-socialmediaredflags.peatix.com/
 

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