The Kardashians have amassed their fame for the same reason Donald Trump was elected president, because we no longer live in an era of credibility, qualification or talent; there’s a new currency that dictates our ‘perception’ of success, a currency of your influence on social media, with little concern to whether it originates from scandal, propaganda, controversy ,sympathy or outright indecency. Trump for one, has the ability to churn a simple situation into a full-blown controversy and people like that have an unbelievable ability to garner attention. In the age of social media, attention, whether good or bad is the only requirement for victory, that the threat of “bad press” isn’t as potent as it once was and the media, knowingly or unknowingly services a person’s cause even if it comes at the cost of the said person attracting “negative” attention. Attention—whether good or bad—is attention nonetheless. The market place is dominated by clicks and shares and as a result we don’t usually get the most qualified person for the job but the person that grabs the most attention.

Social media has widened the gap between what was once considered realistically attainable and what the modern society deems as success. Numerous individuals have succumbed to this new unit of measure, trying to meet these standards of society at a cost they usually cannot bear, trying to impress an audience to whom you’re nothing but a throwaway source of entertainment. Social media, in my opinion, has corrupted our interpretation of success and has played a sizable role in sculpting these standards that we all so desire to meet. We, however fail to realise that the context of our lives in most cases differ greatly and that one cannot simply hope to duplicate another’s achievement into their own individual life and expect similar results. Sooner or later, we end up miserable and unhappy, blaming our governments for the same deficiencies we, ourselves have and instead of correcting these shortcomings, we tend to chase standards we know we can’t sustain in the long-term. It’s true when they say a person has three faces, the first which he shows the world, the second which he shows his friends and family and the third which he shows no one. Stuck in this spiral of trying to impress and please everyone, we invest the most in the first two faces instead of correcting our flaws which the third face conceals. We are made to believe that every picture we share of ourselves projects an image of a life far better than the ones we realistically experience and each video is the true essence of our experience instead of the experience itself. Social media has bred a culture that contradicts the principles of Islam.

And when someone perfects this art of presenting a hoax, they are then assumed to have ascended the ranks, considered the epitome of society. We consider these so called “social media influencers” a benchmark for success, fuelled by sponsored material and stolen quotes they preach you unreasonable standards for fame, success and manage to rake millions without contributing anything material to the society. One of the erroneous concepts they instil in the younger demographic is that their financial progress is the measure of their individual growth where their ethical values and morals are more of an afterthought. Time and again we’re taught that our financial status gives us recognition, but why state something that can depreciate to be the measure of your growth and why not instead replace that with your moral principles, character and conduct. I happen to be a staunch believer that one’s skill, knowledge and goodwill should be exercised for the growth of the society and not exclusively for acquiring wealth whereas this new trend of social media influencing might contradict that. We have yet to see a social media influencer, one with a respectable following that relates to the common people and not just the wealthy, someone that preaches standards the majority can realistically meet, someone that teaches that wealth shouldn’t be your first priority. By no means am I suggesting that you all abandon your social media presence but rather shun the mindset we’re all adopting.

I know a certain individual who treats their children very poorly and yet their social media accounts suggest otherwise where that certain individual is nothing short of being an ideal parent. But why maintain this front? Why invest more of your time in trying to take a presentable picture of your child instead of their actual upbringing. Maybe it has to do with the fact that today’s society expects you to post a picture of your smiling child as the sole measure of your parenthood. There are countless other examples like these hidden away in different aspects of our lives. It’s as if social media has redefined the measure of every human quality. Ignorance is bliss, they say, because when the truth offends, we lie and we lie to the world, isolating and sheltering ourselves from our individual realities, trying to project an image of ourselves that doesn’t exist. We lie until we can no longer remember the truth, but that truth is always there. “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth and sooner or later that debt is paid”.

Failure to meet these artificial demands result in depression, hopelessness, jealousy, envy and frustration. Someone who considers themselves to have failed at meeting these new standards feel isolated, insecure and inadequate, while those on the other side of the spectrum feel more self-centred and distant from their real-life connections. Either way, no good comes from trying to model the context of someone else’s life into our own. Perhaps this is what we deserve, we are a society that demands to be entertained every moment of the day without charge and perhaps this is what we asked for. When you want a circus, you exalt the clowns.