x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

‘We don’t sit with elders anymore. This means we waste time on meaningless social media’

Yaslam Al Jaberi, a student at Zayed University, said he noticed that some of his peers are so preoccupied with social networking sites that they forget to pray.

Yaslam Al Jaberi says there has been a decline of traditional values in the youth and they are obsessed with social media. Ravindranath K / The National
Yaslam Al Jaberi says there has been a decline of traditional values in the youth and they are obsessed with social media. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // An unhealthy obsession with celebrity and social media is sending negative messages that do not represent the country’s Arabic and Islamic culture, a student said.

Yaslam Al Jaberi, 23, who attends Zayed University, said he noticed that some of his peers are so preoccupied with social networking sites that they forget to pray.

He also praised Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, for his positive messages on social media, against the negative ones sent out by pop stars, such as Lady Gaga.

“Long ago, we had to sit with the old men of the family. They taught us a lot, but many UAE youths are no longer close to the seniors in the family. This means more opportunity to waste time on meaningless platforms,” said Yaslam.

“We are more dependent on the internet and Twitter for information and most of the time they do not improve our knowledge.”

He said parents now have different worries, other than their children, which allow young people to “learn the wrong things from external factors” as parents are more concerned about “what people will say”.

“I know if I sin, I will be questioned by Allah. Parents neglect to instil that in their children,” he said.

Because of that, Yaslam said many of the people his age are mimicking trends in films and music videos, even when they know it is religiously forbidden.

“The trends are increasing. We will start thinking like them, but they are not role models and we cannot build our personalities based on them,” he said.

He said he also noticed shortcomings in religious rituals, which he is ashamed of.

“I have noticed that my friends are so caught up on social networking applications that they don’t pray on time. That is forbidden in Islam,” he said.

He said the youth are following celebrities on social media daily – mainly on Twitter and Instagram – which he finds is unhealthy.

“I actually expected the pop stars’ influence to be bigger. They are what we are mainly concerned about sadly. And we love them in a crazy way,” he said.

A social media user himself, he said he does not feel the need to use them on a daily basis.

“Who you follow [on social media] affects you. It makes a connection with your brain. And many users know how to attract viewers, even if their information is wrong or made up – that is how the youth get into this online world.”

Pop stars send messages that do not represent our Arabic and Islamic culture, he said.

“Mohammed bin Rashid is on social media and on it he taught us that nothing is impossible. As a young man this is what I think we need because it makes us ambitious and know what we want and how to reach our dreams.”

aalkhoori@thenational.ae