Thursday, December 13, 2018

Social Media & Dhofar

Over the past couple of years I've become almost allergic to the idea of social media. I use Whatsapp to contact family (and maintain multiple useful groups for my team at work, project teams, university friends, etc). I also use Facebook to stay in touch with people I actually know in person who live abroad. That's it. No Instagram. No Snapchat. No shit. 

As I continue my retreat into normal life, I've noticed a baffling phenomenon among Dhofari women. Youngish women in particular. Due to the social segregation of women and men and the general non-involvement of women in public life, women have used social media to create an entire society, or shall I say "parallel universe"for themselves. 

Salalah has dozens of "social media influencers" (I hate the term) who are extremely popular on Snapchat and Instagram and who have a significantly large following. 

Of course, these accounts are for the shallow-minded. They talk about themselves or promote products (for a fee), or talk about absolutely nothing. I've watched some of their posts and I almost feel nauseous. Shallow and empty. Yet they have thousands of followers who then spend ages gossiping about the latest social media scandal. 

It is empty. It adds no meaning to life. It just leads to slow deterioration of the brain. This is my personal opinion and I feel very strongly about it. 

I was on the plane yesterday flying back to Salalah. The person on my left and the person on my right were on their phones scrolling through Snapchat and Instagram before take off. Through the accounts of weird Kuwaiti celebrities in revealing clothing, local influencers talking about how dumb other influencers are, and anyone else who thinks their latest perfume purchase or food post is adding value to the world. I spent the flight reading Hemingway.

I'm not a snob, but I'm terrified of where the world is headed. People don't think when they're on their phones. Sometimes even I get carried away online and time flies and I have no idea how I ended up scrolling through a page on vegan muffins. I acknowledge this and then put my phone away as punishment. I'm trying to exercise self discipline. I can't lose touch with my humanity. How is one supposed to reflect on life, God and the universe when they spend six hours a day looking at a screen?

Food for though. 

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