Aditya Jaishankar
Guest Article

How did Facebook conquer Buri Nazar?

Today, super-consumerism trumps superstition. We see this play out on Facebook the most.

Since time immemorial there have been rituals to overcome the fear of the evil eye. This is of course not just an Indian phenomenon but a global phenomenon; world over the evil eye is given different names and rituals are still practiced, even in so called modern families, to ward off the evil eye.

How did Facebook conquer Buri Nazar?

Aditya Jaishankar

In the Indian context, right from the birth of a new born to when the child is growing up, to different stages of our lives, including when we are starting a new venture or buying a new home, there is always a conversation around 'nazar utaro'. Apart from simple rituals that were performed there have been certain codes of conduct which the senior members of the family have followed since the yesteryears. Not revealing too much about your life to someone you're not sure is a well-wisher. Or not revealing too much to anybody and everybody. When it comes to good news like material progress, or even a grand vacation, one took a conscious decision to be guarded about not just blabbering to all and sundry.

But there is a phenomenon that has almost made people forget about this 'buri nazar' and not even spare a thought for it.

That phenomenon my dear friends is Facebook. From the time FB took over our lives, people do not hesitate to share good news, positive things about their lives, put up pictures of the most beautiful things in their lives... they do this without hesitation. Mind you, not just the younger generation, but even the senior citizens are living it up on Facebook. Interestingly, a lot of them, I have observed in real life, used to be selective about what they shared and careful about going overboard about anything, especially in a social context.

So, what is it about Facebook that enabled the average younger and even older Indian to let go of this ingrained belief that was rooted in fear. Let me try and hazard some guesses and assumptions.

From 'Buri nazar' to 'Mujhe nazar mein aana hain'...

In the age of consumerism and an increasingly materialistic society the need to flaunt has become much greater than the fear of flaunting. It's no longer 'nazar hatao'; it's about 'mujhe nazar mein aana hain'.The rewards in the form of 'Likes' and positive comments possibly outweigh the fear of any 'buri nazar'.


The mantra of YOLO (acronym for You Only Live Once) is cutting across the young and the old alike. Even among the senior generation... they look around the world today and see the multiple opportunities to experience things they never experienced before. There is no holding them back. There is a need to curate and flaunt the wonderful experiences and milestones and live it up. Fear is probably the last thing on their minds. Perhaps the powerful age of super-consumerism overshadows any tiny superstitious beliefs that held us back in the past.


The fear of missing out or FOMO is a similar concept. The fear of missing out or not being perceived ahead of the curve in various walks of life, is probably much greater than the fear of a mere evil eye. Interestingly, the older generation seems to be experiencing FOMO as much as the younger generation.

A WARC (World Advertising Research Council) study, interestingly, indicates that India is rated much higher when it comes to FOMO as compared to many other countries in the world. Can this fear or gap override even an ingrained belief that held us back for so many years? It appears so.

How did Facebook conquer Buri Nazar?

Image Credit - WARC
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But all this leads to a deeper rooted interesting question. Can ingrained beliefs that hold us back in life be tackled with rewards that are strong enough to act as a counter force? Can the younger generation bargain harder with the older generation to overcome their stubbornness towards certain changes in life? Can the virtues of consumerism be celebrated even more among the older generation?

Facebook seems to have become such a big part of our lives that we never even realised that we are letting go an ingrained belief built, and passed on, over centuries.

Or perhaps there is another theory that one can mull over? A possibility of our minds being wired in a completely different way when we are online! A world so fast that one probably loses control over one's ingrained beliefs in the heat of the moment.

May the fear of missing out always be stronger than the fear of the evil eye.


(The author is co-founder of MAAD advertising and an independent brand consultant)

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