Manama: Noora, a young professional in Bahrain, likes to maintain a distance with her colleagues at work and not share too much about her personnel life — a common trait among women in the Gulf who are used to sheltering themselves from society.
While she shares very little about her personal life, Noora frequently posts personal pictures of her outings or her travels with her co-workers on social media platforms that could be viewed by anyone.
While her behaviour may confound those around her, the parallel life that Noora lives is becoming a common trend among women living in the Gulf.
In neighbouring Saudi Arabia, more than five million people are using the Snapchat application, half of them in the capital Riyadh, a study has said.
The study, cited by Saudi daily Al Riyadh, found out that 60 per cent of users are women.
Mona Yousuf, a psychologist, explained why the number of women users was significantly higher than men.
Speaking to the Al Riyadh daily she said because women have less contact with society than men — especially if they are unemployed — they may use social media as a way to access the real world and seek genuine social interaction.
But, the new craze of oversharing has the potential to erase social red lines that typically govern the Gulf woman’s relationship with her community, Yousuf warns.
“Several social media applications have infiltrated societies, and gradually changed perspectives and altered red lines held by the community. What used to be banned and off-limits has now become allowed and permissible on social media networks,” she said.
The breach of privacy and the daily publication of the minute details of an individual are among the things that conservative societies, find strange and reprehensible, she added.
But not all people think barriers should be kept up and believe the days of living behind closed doors are over.
Hundreds of Gulf women have huge followings as they model the latest fashion trends in clothes and make-up — some have even been able to make a career out of it.
Without social media, very few mainstream media outlets would have dared to promote women in such a manner.
Despite differing opinions on the woman’s place in society, many agree that the phenomenon has dangerous repercussions on men and women alike.
“It has exposed the superficiality of people — even those that hold high social or professional status,” Yousuf says.
“People are now concocting stories and situations in order to share what they are doing on a daily basis,” she said.
“The behaviour is very adolescent. More people are engaging in and sharing activities just for self-fulfillment. They want to tell the world, ‘I am here. I exist. Pay attention to me’,” she said.
“They need to prove the importance of what they are doing, however frivolous it may be,” she said.
The reasons for such behaviours vary from one person to the other, but are related to an inferiority complex, a desire for attention or a yearning to give a sense of importance to activities.
“In my view, they are symptoms of personality disorders or an intellectual or emotional void,” Yousuf said.