I’m obsessed with social media. Not with using it, but in analysing the ins and outs of this seemingly necessary evil of twenty first century life. I’m constantly assessing and re-assessing why it is that the strangest of behaviours have become so acceptable that to question them has become unacceptable. Take the selfie, for instance. How is it that to take a photo of yourself and share it with hundreds of people is considered ordinary behaviour? And why is it that instead of finding this behaviour self-indulgent and ridiculous, we instead laud the photographer with lavish and often insincere praise, like ‘omg babe you’re sooo gorgeous!’ I ask these questions not to condemn those who partake in such behaviour, (well, maybe just a little) but more out of sheer curiosity as to how this all came to be, and furthermore, how this impacts on our real-life interactions.
For Muslims, online interaction may often be the primary form of communication with members of the opposite sex; no face-to-face hang-outs doesn’t necessarily equate to no Google hang-outs. Our Facebook profiles can often be the main way for a person of the opposite sex to learn about our values, lifestyle and hobbies short of actually expressing interest. This is where marketing becomes important. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, people present themselves online in a certain way and thus may attract a certain type of person’s interest. If you want to know who you could be attracting and repelling, read on and slot yourself accordingly. Here goes:
1.) The Sufi Sweetie
I use the term Sufi very loosely here. By Sufi, I’m not referring to someone who is actually a member of a Tariqa; some people who fall into the Sufi Sweetie category may in fact identify as Salafi. By Sufi I merely mean a person who’s all about the love, the deep and meaningful quotes, the status dripping in earnestness and sincerity. It sure is nice that they’re so enthusiastic, but sometimes it’s sugary sweet to the point that it gives you a toothache. Nevertheless, this type of girl tends to get a lot of interest from guys across all sectors of the Muslim community; guys seem to really dig the Pollyanna types. Even Grim Reminders aren’t immune to the cutesy appeal of a Sufi Sweetie. So if you’re one of these, things are looking good for you in the marriage stakes 😉
Age Bracket: <22 (It’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm after a certain age).
Profile Picture: Something with kittens, a sunset or cupcakes. Possibly them staring off into the distance meaningfully, face obscured. Anything to do with the ocean is also popular.
Typical status update: ‘Alhamdulillah for everything all the time 24 hours a day 7 days a week ❤ <3’
Shares with friends: A quote by Yasmin Mogahed/Rumi.
2.) The Alpha Female
This girl will only need to blink and it’ll get 50 likes. Her profile is filled with photos of herself in various settings, all of which receive lavish praise from her friends despite the fact that it looks exactly like all her other photos. She’s smart, sassy and definitely not afraid to show off her smarts or sassiness to her army of admiring followers who have ‘MashaAllah’ on speed type whenever she posts a new photo. However, this type of girl may put off guys on the more conservative end of the spectrum; for them girls who post any photos of themselves online are a no-go. However, Hipster Muslims and Witty Quippers will be very keen to snap this one up.
Age bracket: Under <25
Profile picture: Herself posing prettily, alone or with a cute baby/gal pal.
Typical status update: ‘Just got picked up by a bunch of guys at the station. It’s just soooo annoying being me!’
Shares with friends: Selfies and events she’ll be attending, in case you missed her 10 status updates about what she’s up to at any given time.
3.) The Witty Quipper
This person may be male or female, but the common trait is a well-crafted Facebook persona. They will often draw attention to their own lovable foibles and develop a cult following in the process. I appreciate humour as much as the next person, but you have to wonder how much effort goes into their jokes. Surely no one is that funny all the time? Nevertheless, the WQ tends to generate a lot of interest from the opposite sex bar the Grim Reminder types who will no doubt find them a bit on the frivolous side. (‘Fear Allah, sister’.)
Age bracket: <30
Profile picture: An action shot of them doing something silly, or goofing around with friends.
Typical status update: Key features include phrases such as ‘the awkward moment when’ or ‘winning’. Often involves some kind of anecdote with a suspiciously well-timed climax.
Shares with friends: Memes and goofy YouTube clips.
4.) The Hipster Muslim
This person is like, so cool. They like long walks on the beach, Islamic artworks, eco-friendly products and bicycles, and they aren’t afraid to share it with the Facebook world. There’s some overlap between the Hipster and the Sufi Sweetie, but the Hipster is ice cold to the Sweetie’s gushing warmth. For this reason the two often develop romantic attachments, along with the Witty Quipper.
Age bracket: Any age.
Profile picture: Something travel-related or featuring them at the latest artsy hipster hotspot.
Typical status update: ‘Orientalism sucks, man.’
Shares with friends: Abdul Hakim Murad’s Contentions or something the Fear of a Brown Planet guys have said about race issues.
5.) The Grim Reminder
Looking at this person’s profile for too long will give you a serious case of the blues. They’re all about death, reminders that we’re all going to die and how to avoid going to Hell when we die. Oh, and the evil schemes of the kuffar get frequent mentions too. Maybe they just need to swap lives with a Sufi Sweetie for a day to cheer up…or marry one 😉
Age bracket: Typically <25
Profile picture: A Quran or some Islamic calligraphy. Possibly a sword or a galloping horse if male.
Typical status update: ‘Every day could be your last..how are YOU spending it?’
Shares with friends: Links to lectures and question and answer thingies warning people about a multitude of sins. Also any news article proving how evil the West is.
So there you have it. Which one are you? Or maybe you’re a combination of a few, depending on your mood?