In that regard, I deactivated all my social media to the maximum extent possible, and by that I mean deactivating my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and DeviantArt; however, while YouTube allowed me to "unlist" most of my videos ("most" because some videos are already publicly shared by certain media and news websites), Flickr does not allow such, and so, rather than "delete" all those years of my photography documentation from across the Maldives and other countries, I left Flickr as it is -- although I do not plan to update my YouTube and Flickr hereafter.
And the only reason I am keeping just this blog is to make public announcements like this. That is why I do not update this blog regularly in that sense - because I do not want to start blogging ever again, as I never want to engage with society on a public level ever again.
Such a harsh decision stems from the fact that, over the past one and half years since my return to Maldives, my experience on Facebook made me realize that even a trivial "activity" -- such as a "like" or "comment" to anyone's "status" -- can be twisted around, and in such a small society like ours, it is not advisable to allow certain elements to create conflict (fitna) amongst us whether it is political, religious, social, etc.
And at a time when there seems to be so much defamatory behavior and inflammatory action (by some both on social and mainstream media), I felt that, if I see any wrongdoing, I can always, in accordance with Islamic ethics, bring up the issue privately with any individual and organization, and I believe it is their national and religious duty to undertake corrective action. Likewise, if anybody needs to contact me directly, they can always email me (email@example.com) or send an sms to my Dhiraagu number (+960-7887946).
Hence, my retirement from public life comes at a time when the society is such that, the person who holds up the mirror, is demonized by a people who, in this Information Age of the Internet era, still delude themselves that they have a private life.
And when it comes to keeping secrets, Maldivians seem to be one of the worst on Earth; yet, due to fear of social alienation, they still pretend to be "clean" while in the public sphere, although while in the private sphere, everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Yes, here in the Maldives, even if you are a foreigner, you can dig up even the childhood secrets of any (Maldivian) stranger because our social networks (and the grapewine) are one of the best in the world (although I am not proud to point out this).
The insecurity even some of my friends felt when I pointed this out to them was a key reason for my decision to disengage completely from this society. I had around 200 Facebook friends and within the past 4 months, it dropped to just 6. The reason? Consider this hypothetical example:
I meet a friend on the street one day who is wearing a cap suddenly for some reason while I am not. He can see the hair on my head directly while I cannot see his hair. In this Internet age (where all information regarding biology, psychology, etc, is available), I know that, he being human, like me he also has hair on his head although I am not seeing it because he is wearing a cap. But I feel quite disconcerted when, for reasons of his own, he claims that never in his life he ever had hair on his head - although it does not take only just the "underground sex networks" (like Kotari, Mig33 or Facebook dating groups) for even any stranger (and not just me) to confirm beyond doubt that he is human and does have hair on his head and for some reason he now feels so disgusted about his hair and wants the rest of the society to believe that he has no hair on his head. Perhaps, if some day in the future, if it becomes not fashionable and trendy to be a human being at all, he might start wearing a fish costume and claim he is actually a fish, despite all the biological evidence that he is human!
So, how do you enjoy normal friendly relations or reasonable public engagement with a society which consists of a considerable number of people who deep down know that all their "shame" is exposed to everyone else but still chose to delude themselves and live in denial because that is more (falsely) comforting to their fear of social alienation. In fact, all your family, friends, neighbors (and any nosy stranger who is interested in you) by now knows every little dirty secret of yours but do not say it to your face because this is such a small society and holding up mirrors does not seem practical and socially harmonious where, metaphorically speaking, everyone's back has some kind of stain on it.
Hence, just pointing out this simple reality made me lose 200 Facebook friends overnight. But some of them now seem to be recovering from the initial shock of coming to terms with their self-imposed delusion; at least one middle-aged Maldivian man recently admitted to me that he reacted so badly towards me initially because he felt that his whole world fell apart and I was the only around when it happened -- because I was the one who actually held up the mirror to his face; that Sword of Shannara which showed him the secrets he tried to hide even from himself. Quite ironically, it seems that, in a society where there are no saints whatsoever, it serves best for everyone to ignore the others' dirt -- in order to prevent their own lives from being unnecessarily interfered by others. So, it seems he is now less hostile towards me because he has now started feeling that he has to come to terms with the fact that his "shames" are there for anyone to find out -- if they bother so. And maybe, he is also gleeful that he is not the only one around who has committed "shames".
Therefore, in such a society, I myself felt that a policy of non-intervention will serve best for me and for everyone else.
And of course, one can always serve the public in all ways. You don't have to go into politics or any other public life in order to serve the people. And you don't even need any special talent. To quote Paulo Coelho, author of THE ALCHEMIST (the second-most sold novel after Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE): "We have to make it understood that a writer is no more important than someone who sells coconuts."
So I don't agree with some of my friends who tell me they feel it is ethically wrong for me to retire when I have a "talent". Everyone has a "talent". I am nobody special. So get over it.
And Coelho's following words, from THE WAY OF THE BOW, convinces me - beyond a shadow of doubt - that in this Maldivian society, it is best for me to lead a private life hereafter:
"People always judge others by taking as a model their own limitations, and other people's opinions are often full of prejudice and fear. Join with all those who experiment, take risks, fall, get hurt and then take more risks. Stay away from those who affirm truths, who criticise those who do not think like them, people who have never once taken a step unless they were sure they would be respected for doing so, and who prefer certainties to doubts. Join with those who are open and not afraid to be vulnerable: they understand that people can only improve once they start looking at what their fellows are doing, not in order to judge them, but to admire them for their dedication and courage."
May Allah sustain all of us on the Right Path. Aameen. Ramazan Mubarak. Peace.