How Influential are Social Media Influencers?

Modern technology and social media have certainly changed the fabric of our lifestyles. There are many good things these platforms have brought, but I also believe it’s brought a lot more damage and harm.[1]

There are numerous studies made on the negative effects of social media, on society and on individuals. This damage is real and imminent.  The main point that should really shock us is that the more we use social media the less happy we seem to be.

Surveys say that frequent users of social media tend to have problems with anxiety.[2] We are heading down a very dangerous path that is affecting us all without us knowing.

Three billion people, or around 40% of the world’s population use social media.[3] Such staggering figures are indeed alarming, especially with all that it does to our mental state of being.

My discussion here is not about how bad social media is, or how addictive we have become to these “anti-social”[4] social platforms. Rather, it’s more about this new trend of what they call “influencers”.

A social media influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry.

I would sum up influencers falling under one of three categories:

  1. Marketing merchandise.
  2. Physical appearance, especially makeup, diets and exercise.
  3. Social affairs, like SJWs, activists and feminists.

As you might already have guessed, I am not very fond of social media influencers, not because I disagree with them as individuals, but because the motive that drives them, in most cases, is for fame or for money.

It is very rare to find a genuine person on social media who really is working towards influencing people in the positive way. I would also say that we should rather call them “persuaders,” because that’s what they are doing.

Major companies find a charismatic personality online, maybe even a celebrity, and ask them to use and endorse their merchandise, and encourage people to buy it. Because the influencer has access to a large audience, he/she has the power to affect their purchase decision and convince them to buy it.

In our consumerist society, people feel incomplete and deficient if they don’t get what it is that everyone else is into.

This is where trends start as well. It’s also interesting to know that although trends and what’s in and what’s out usually start from more famous influencers, it is the micro-influencers who have more of an impact.[5]

Although as Muslims we shouldn’t be dragged into this ugly world of consumerism, it’s not really our biggest problem.

The problem we should have is if we are being influenced by social media influencers. Are they enticing us towards materialist matters and dunwayi things? Are they making us feel bad about our image, and consciously changing our views about our or moral and religious values?

When you subscribe to a certain page, or channel, and constantly see the feeds of new beautifying products, or slim women, or built men, and then make comparisons with yourself, how do you feel?

Do the social justice warriors (SJW) really work for a good cause, and with baseerah and knowledge?

Are social media activists really standing against dhulm, however and wherever it may be?[6]

Sadly, we are fueling the fire, with our likes, and subscriptions, and comments. Many of us have become a part of this munkar.

Yes, social media influencers are indeed influential, but in most cases, for us at least, in the wrong way. That’s why we need a wakeup call.

Whether we acknowledge or not, it’s easy for anyone to be influenced by their immediate surroundings, and that’s why we need to address these topics, so we don’t become influenced by negative influencers. Ultimately, as Muslims, we have a criteria we work with, being our Islamic precepts and true teachings, and so we need to be careful and cautious not to be influenced in the wrong way.

We need to be very selective with who our role-models are, and what example of lifestyle we should choose.


You really think most of these influencers have that flashy no-problem-in-the-world kind of life that they portray themselves as having?

When you look at these influencers, do they draw you more towards religion, or dunya?

Do they encourage you to accept yourself for who you are, and strengthen your self-esteem and self-admiration?

Are they being paid to sell you a product so you can fill that naqs they made you feel you have?

Do they give you more insight into the real problems in the world, and how you can actively contribute to making it better?

Will you be more inclined to make sacrifices in your life, to become a better person, to increase your level of taqwa and to avoid materialism?

We really need to work on this, especially for the sake of our younger generation.

If we do not start working on our nafs, our generation and the generations to come won’t have anything Islamically good or socially positive to produce.

There won’t be any more Imam Musa al-Sadrs, or Bint al-Hudas, or Dr. Chamrans, and that will be our plight.

The key is to learn balance, and to mentally block what you know goes against your religious and moral principles. As a hadith says the same way you are cautious about where and what you eat, you should be even more cautious about where you get your knowledge, and in this case who is influencing you.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this discussion, the less we use social media the happier we become. Connect with the world and those around you by disconnecting what distracts you the most.[7]

 

Notes:

[1] Please read this: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#7e0404ab2e5a

[2] This link gives some very detailed statistics on this topic: https://ourworldindata.org/social-media-wellbeing

[3] https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180104-is-social-media-bad-for-you-the-evidence-and-the-unknowns

[4] In the bbc link, it says:

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine last year surveyed 7,000 19- to 32-year-olds and found that those who spend the most time on social media were twice as likely to report experiencing social isolation, which can include a lack of a sense of social belonging, engagement with others and fulfilling relationships.

[5] A micro influencer is someone who has an audience within the follower range of 2000 up to about 50 000 followers, on a particular social media channel, usually comprised of a focused passion, topic or niche market.

[6] We all know of the atrocities perpetrated by global superpowers, and how many cases of them being behind not only global terrorism, but also intentional killing of innocent lives. If these are things social activists are not focusing on, then what kind of true social activism do they have. As a simple example, did any of them make any commotion about this: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-just-admitted-arming-anti-assad-syrian-rebels-big-mistake-1.6894850

[7] You can take easy steps towards this. Don’t use your phone or any smart device after 8pm, or before 8am. Don’t visit social media platforms on the weekends. Throughout the rest of the time, minimise your activity on it by nothing more than half an hour a day.

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