Online computer use is widespread and growing. The online world has opened up new avenues of communication in the form of social media which has the capacity of mobilizing people for many good reasons. Social media can be beneficial if utilized in a correct manner for the correct purpose. However, often Social media sites and chat rooms are used for communication that is immoral and unlawful.
Sadly, many Muslims have become addicted to this media that has become the source of harm and heartreak to families, marriages, and relationships. Whilst some use the medium to seek a marriage partner others use it to enjoy illicit communication. Looking for a partner through a social media network is dangerous as relationship issues go beyond the surface of the flat screen. Information gleaned from a person through social media is electronic and unreal. The reality may well be something very different. The instances of failed marriages borne out of social media are alarming.
There are numerous challenges and subtle dangers that face users of social media. Let us look at a few,
1. To communicate with a strange person of the opposite gender without necessity is impermissible in Islam. Many conversations on social media fall into this category. In fact, at times a person may be unaware of the true gender of the person they are chatting to due to a false profile.
2. When communicating with a person over the net, one has simply no idea of who the person is and what is their social background. All forms of hopes, aspirations and inclinations are conjured on the basis of electronic discussion and commitments. The heart already grows fond before one has even scraped the surface of the opposite person’s character and life.
3. Electronic social communication has a steep downside because it offers no protection to the parties. A person is on his own and may be open to abuse, vulgarity, and intimidation.
4. The electronic medium has no consideration for human emotion and self-dignity.
5. Relationships are made and broken over the net and often leave people hurt, aggrieved, and emotionally traumatized.
6. The electronic community is faceless and not accountable. The respect, dignity and social status of a person are easily flouted in an online relationship.
Unlike the virtual online life, the dangers accompanying social media are real. Young Muslims out there are urged to rethink the substance of their relationships in the virtual world and return to reality.