In a world of “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”, our climate encourages the regular and ever more revealing sharing of the minutiae of our lives. The more we share, the greater the validation of our audience who reward us with the dopamine rushes of likes, comments, and digital praise. We document the best bits of our life and present them as a show reel to the world, carefully erasing away anything that is less than perfect.
Documentaries from influencers  have described how up to 200 shots of the same pose are struck before the perfect photo of a ‘natural off the cuff’ moment is put on online feeds. Places to socialise (and the people you do it with) are carefully selected for what will look best “on the gram” – where the sum motivation of the day is to create ‘content’ to engage, entertain, and remain relevant to your audience.
Eating disorder charities  have seen sharp increases in young people citing social media as the biggest driver of their insecurity around body image. What else could be expected to happen in a space saturated with aesthetic perfection? All we’re left with are stunning veneers barely able to mask the hollow inside.
We’ve gone from publicly showcasing what we drive and wear, to what we eat, and the inner dynamics of our most intimate relationships. Though many people understand the glossy and carefully curated online profiles of people seldom correlate with their reality, that human weakness of just wanting to peep into the lives (homes and relationships) of others has led to an avalanche of harm that has buried our notions of privacy, discretion, and the sanctity of what is worth protecting.
Across generations, we have gone from Keeping up with the Jones’, to Keeping up with the Kardashians, to Keeping up with the Khans up the road because you’re getting daily updates on the beauty regimen of the eldest girl your daughter goes to school with.
Comparison is the thief of joy
No matter how attractive you are, there will always be someone better looking. No matter how much wealth you have, there will be wealthier people in the world. No matter how smart, accomplished, or successful you think you are, others in the world will eclipse your material achievements. The game is rigged.
The competition for gain is a bottomless pit, and the human desire to pile up more and more is something so endemic that Allah Himself addresses this in Surat al-Takathur:
“Competition for more worldly gains diverts you from Allah, until you end up in your graves.” 
When you see everyone else seem to be winning at life, it is inevitable that your regular, mundane, and responsibility-laden life will appear grim in comparison. Your husband may not be able to peel an onion, let alone cook that three-course dinner you saw your friend’s husband rustle up earlier today. Your child might be stuttering over memorising Juz ‘Amma, whereas children younger than them have just had Hifdh completion parties. You might be struggling to cover basic living costs when you see the romantic Muslim couple spending £80 on a couple of Tomahawk steaks on date night. Gratitude is to love the life you have, and to see the subtle and obvious blessings of Allah in all the major and minor moments.
Every single person lives in this world a carefully portioned mix of blessings and trials. Nobody is immune from this. When we look at others, we often focus on their blessings and gloss over the definite hardships they have. When we look at ourselves, we hone in on our (real or perceived) difficulties and diminish the many blessings that exist in our lives. The reality is, if we knew, we would actually never choose to swap our rizq for that of another.
“If you knew how Allah deals with your affairs for you, your heart would break out of love for Him.”Imam al-Shāfi’ī (raḥimahu Allah)
The surest way to invite greatest goodness in your life is in the regular, thoughtful, and sincere practice of gratitude.
“And remember when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more’.” 
Ayn is real
Though, as Muslims, we are not to fall into paranoia or anxiety, we have been explicitly told that the evil eye exists – and to take the necessary precautions against it through adhkār, mindful conduct, and not making a public show of the blessings we have.
Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“Seek help in the fulfilment of your needs by being discrete, for everyone who is given a blessing will be envied.” 
One does not have to be a raging envious person to find that twinge of jealousy in their heart when they see others enjoying what they lack. This is such a recognised human weakness that we have been given explicit instruction on what to do when this happens:
Sahl ibn Hunayf (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“If one of you sees something from his brother, or in himself, or in his wealth which impresses him, then supplicate for him to be blessed in it. Verily, the evil eye of envy is real.” 
One of the most common sense ways of protecting yourself and your families from both the malicious and unintentional attention of the evil eye is to simply keep it out of the public sphere. Show gratitude for the great things in your life by enjoying them privately and not feeling the inclination to share it widely in order for it to be ‘satisfying’. The opinions, comments, and attitudes of others rarely do much else but add stress, drama, or negativity to good things – so when you share, do so with that close group of family or handful of friends whom you trust truly love you for the sake of Allah and want goodness for you at every turn.
Don’t fall into the dopamine trap
Derive genuine pleasure from what is real and wholesome. Any performative displays of our blessings (online or offline) are fundamentally rooted in the need of praise, adoration, or adulation of others.
The question that must then be asked is, why is the validation of others so important to you? In the most extreme cases, there are people who build their entire sense of Self – whether self esteem, self confidence, or self worth – through the validation of other’s opinions. The most basic issue with this is not just a potential insincerity with our intentions, but that the things that impress others may be what anger Allah. Even when doing ‘work for the deen’, the ego boost one gains from the praise of others should serve as a red flag to revisit intentions.
Ka’b ibn Malik (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Whoever seeks knowledge to impress the scholars, to argue with the foolish, or to attract the attention of people, Allah will admit him into Hellfire.” 
The desire to attract the praise of others can even have consequences on our very brain chemistry. The more you do something, the stronger your brain’s appetite for it. When one feeds their neurological network with the joy of being praised, then your need for that level of attention will only increase in intensity and frequency.
The dopamine rush you get from 100 likes on a post will soon wear off, and you’ll need at least 200 next time to feel the same rush of joy. Appetites are another bottomless pit, where the more you feed them, the more they want.
Protect what is precious
Your world is not going to stop if you unplug or dramatically decrease your intake of social media. Those job opportunities will still find you. Those events in the local area will still fall on your radar and the reminders you need will reach you, since everything intended for your goodness has already been pre-determined by Allah.
Focus on valuing what is real and lasting, and reorienting your heart (and brain chemistry!) towards activities of genuine substance. No longer relying on the fleeting opinions of any random stranger on the Internet will allow you to understand whose opinions are worth listening to, and whose should be discarded. In fact, you may come to value yourself enough that others should earn the right to pass opinions before you are willing to take their ideas seriously.
Reclaim the joy of living a meaningful, offline existence – in as much as is possible – because the most precious things in life should be protected. Safeguard your heart, mind, self, and home, by embracing the safety and joy of privacy in the way they deserve.
 al-Qur’ān | 102:1-2
 al-Qur’ān | 14:7
 al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr 16,644 | Grade: Sahīh (authentic) according to al-Albāni
 Musnad Aḥmad | 15,700 | Grade: Sahīh according to al-Albāni
 Sunan al-Tirmidhī | 2,654