Can Nazar be sent virtually? A Gen Z perspective on Nazar & social media
March 12, 2021
Who’s lurking on my social media?
By Aliya Varma, Contributor
Have you ever walked into a room and felt like all eyes are on you? Social media feels exactly like that to me. It's a room mixed with people I know and others who are just passing by, yet still their gaze is felt. While I have embraced various social media platforms and the way it has allowed me to express myself, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Between finding the balance between a public and private life, social media is another place I have found myself setting boundaries.
I am not one to brag about my accomplishments, yet here comes LinkedIn. A platform solely focused on career oriented accomplishments. As a marketing student, finding a balance of what I want to promote about myself and highlight is definitely an area I am still discovering.
When I share something on Instagram, I sometimes forget the impact it may have.
If I only highlight my successful days of working out and eating balanced meals, am I lying?
I remember a friend once jokingly (or maybe intentionally) told me that I lie a lot because I would not give her details about my life openly. According to her, I only divulged details when I found it to be important. While I don’t think I’m a liar, I find that this does somewhat describe how I choose to portray my life on social media.
While I try not to over-filter my photos, I do filter my content.
I was not always so organized about my content. I did go through a time where I posted whatever I wanted without a care in the world, and it was fun! That carefree posting was brought to a stop when it was brought to my attention that there were many assumptions created based on my posting. Nothing terrible, just the notion that I partied and ate out too much. While I do enjoy a night out and eating out, that is not my whole personality!
Since then, I have carefully balanced sharing details regarding my academic life, my passions and other details that make me happy. I Marie Kondo’ed my social media! This change was not simply brought forward because of a few comments, but because it highlighted that people were watching and making assumptions—assumptions that were not always made with positive intent.
I jokingly told my mom, "Someone may just give me Nazar because I'm living my best life." It was a joke, but it did leave me thinking:
Can Nazar be given through a screen? Is it that easy?
Of course, it’s not Nazar in the conventional sense, but more in the sense of: Who is lurking on my social media? What if someone is eyeing my social media with negative intentions? The immediate solution was adding the Evil Eye emoji to my bio to protect me from Nazar. I started thinking more about energy when it came to my social media platforms: People can either be supportive and cheer me on and I would categorize this as ‘good energy,’ and others would lurk and think the worst things about me and spread ‘bad energy.’
While social media comes off as face value, I remember once posting a guy on my Instagram Story and seeing that out of the 240 views, 155 people had clicked on his profile. I got a bunch of messages asking, “Is this a new guy?” This was all based on a story of me saying my friend had not gotten the right dipping sauce for chicken nuggets. I guess a girl and a boy really cannot be friends (or maybe this rule only rings true on Instagram!).
It's these small experiences—these small comments—that make me think of people’s energy and how it affects me.
It has led me to believe that being vulnerable is not something that I am exactly ready to do on social media.
Being vulnerable on social media, to me, can be a gateway to more judgment.
I do believe that being vulnerable and showing that side of myself may lead to amazing interactions. However, the risk of having a couple of negative comments is what really scares me. I’m not strong enough yet to face that. I’m in awe of people who can share each accomplishment, setback, and consequence without thinking twice—but I’m not in that place.
If people know too much they can misconstrue things the way they want to see it.
A picture truly does speak a thousand words. I have seen people spin a whole story based off of a couple of photos and that has instilled a fear in me. I’m hoping as I own my individuality more and more, I’ll be able to be more vulnerable!
As a child of South Asian immigrant parents, I realize that one bad rumor can affect many things; it is a domino effect. While the rumor can be baseless, the consequences are very much present. It has also been instilled into my mind that bragging is just something one should not do. My parents both have artistic backgrounds, so if I act in a certain way, I feel like people assume it is because my parents do not have traditional career paths. In that sense, there’s an assumption that I’m not held to the same standards as children of parents of engineers, because my parents are creative souls. South Asians within the community have not held back on their comments, so I sometimes feel being too open on social media will lead to more openings for them to pass judgement.
Ultimately, the identity I have on social media is honest, but it’s filtered in a way that won’t bring me harm. While social media does not define my identity, it is a way for people to identify me. It is a window into my thoughts and showcases my personality, and while it is not a 100% of me, it is a good part of who I am.
I am not letting people’s gaze define me, but I am certainly protecting myself from it.
About — Aliya Varma is a marketing and political science student in Montreal, Canada. She has a passion for all things beauty and fashion. When she’s not scrolling through Instagram, you can find her reading a book while drinking copious amounts of coffee! You can find her on Instagram @aliyavarmaa.