Social media and the evil eye: How modern-day YouTubers of Middle East and Asia balance traditions and modernity?

Social media allows one to post and share more and finer details of one’s lives with a wider audience. Middle East and Asian communities are increasingly having children who regularly want to post happenings of their lives on social media. They want to share with their fans their good and bad experiences. But they are caught up between their modernity and traditions and superstitions.

Social media and traditions

Young generation and millennial children used social media more often. They vlog and upload posts of the day to day happenings of their lives. Business owners, fashion bloggers, entrepreneurs, models, cooking experts, and lot more people post a number of content videos and photos on their social media. They put up both their good and bad experiences of their lives. But their parents and ancestors believe that one should not post the good news on social media for fear that it would get the ‘evil eye’ and not remain.

Evil eye amulet [Source: The National ae]
The young generation gets caught up between these traditions and superstitions and their modern-age lives.

The impact of culture on uploads and posts

Due to the traditional belief that one’s good life can get the evil eye (nazar) and vanish, many social media users are confused on whether they should post everything on social media or filter out some to avoid this evil eye. This tends to affect the social media uploads of Middle Eastern and Asian world.

Some social media users are careful and since they strongly believe in ‘evil eye’ concept, they avoid posting anything which might attract the evil eye. 76% of people of Middle Eastern and Asian origin in a survey were concerned about this evil eye.

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Emad Arshad [Source: Arab News]
Dubai-based YouTuber Emad Arshad said:

“A few years ago my wife got sick, then I got sick all of a sudden and my kid got sick, and this started happening around the time when I had released a travel vlog about our family trip to Turkey. My family pointed out that I released this vlog and was now getting nazar. We constantly have these debates — I agree and disagree with them,” 

There is an inner battle going on in these YouTubers on what to post and what not to post.

Eye-bearing amulet for the evil eye

Some social media users add the distinctive eye-bearing amulet emoji (symbol of protection against the evil eye) in the caption or put #mashallah (to mean that their good fortune is the will of God) in their posts in the hope that these will protect them from the envious ill-wishers. But many think that this is all superstition and do not believe it. Algerian-Finnish Safi Ahmed-Messaoud states:

“I think it’s sad how much it scares people,”

“It allows others to hold you back and affects your life for no reason.”

Nabeela Ismail [Source: Arab News]
Nabeela Ismail, photographer of Zanzibari descent feels that one should know the line between informing and showing off. She said:

“I think there is a fine line between seeming like you’re showing off or showing something simply because of the fact that Instagram is a visual platform,”

Emad feels similarly:

 “If anything has remotely to do with showing off or showing that I may have a better life than someone around me then I’ll hold off,”