Tech, Now + Beyond

I posted on Facebook about my personal life, until the evil eye ruined things

When my cat was hit by a car and killed, my mum wondered whether I should have put fewer pictures of her on social media.

Nazar lag gaye – ‘nazar happened’.

Nazar is a religious or cultural concept in the Desi community that relates to the “evil eye”. I grew up with the phrase nazar lag gaye, believing that if someone had something good, they should be wary of showing off because people would get jealous and give them “nazar”.

That something good could be anything; if they were really pretty, very healthy, got a promotion at work, or bought something new and shiny.

Basically, it’s saying that someone’s envy will affect what you have and something terrible will happen. I know it is a part of some religions and also huge in Desi culture.

Since I grew up in a Hindu household, my mother always taught me to be careful about what I put out there. But in this day and age, we pretty much share almost everything of our lives on social media, so it’s difficult to try and balance the two.

I put things on social media so long as they don’t cross into the too-personal territory, and I’ve never really been one to “show off”. One thing I love doing is uploading pet pictures because, well, my pets have all been so photogenic. But when my cat was hit by a car and passed away, my mother wondered whether I should have put fewer pictures of her on social media; maybe she was too cute for her own good and got nazar.

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I have friends who won’t post pictures that show their children’s faces, which yeah, I totally get for a number of reasons. I also know people who will only upload abstract pictures of their wedding day, leaving me narrowing my eyes, wondering who they married. Some will just post really artsy shots that take me ages to figure out.

I know that nazar really does affect the way some people use social media. Personally, I always think that the less you share, the better life can be. But I just can’t seem to stick to that on my own feeds.

I mean we’ve all had it where we have been scrolling down our Instagram feed and see someone on a fancy holiday or with a new car. I call what I get “harmless jealousy” because at the end of the day I am only human. It’s fine to see something awesome and want that for yourself, but at the same time be happy for the person sharing their achievements.

The danger comes when your envy is so bad that you want it for yourself and not them. When you want them to lose a good thing, it can become toxic.

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Whenever I post, I always try to think about how it will make others feel. For example, if I had just bought a gorgeous new car, but I know one of my friends really wanted one too, I really wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it. I try to make sure that I don’t make anyone feel that kind of envy; it’s not a nice feeling.

I think I’m doing good because, let’s be honest, not many people who would be jealous of my life from looking at my social media feeds.

When something good happens, or on the rare days my makeup and hair are kind to me, I like to share it with my friends. I Snapchat my cats obsessively, but they are always posing so I can’t really say no to them. However, other than Twitter, which I usually just rant on, my other social media profiles are kept pretty private.

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I’m not sure whether it is because of the fear of nazar that my mum built so deeply within me. Or because I’ve seen people show off and have bad things happen to them, but I definitely do believe in nazar.

I do what I can to avoid any harm, but still make my regular contribution to the cats of the internet.