Friday, May 31, 2013


There is a reason why I haven't published any blog for five months. I thought I was too busy.  Not that I was ... or that I am because it never occurred to me not to have the time to write down whatever it is running inside this head.  

But I know exactly why I have been tacit all this time: I was too busy playing Candy Crush Sage ... or following people's live in Facebook as well as monitoring the map of human existence of other virtual beings in Twitter.

I am beginning to understand the concern about social media.

Yes, Facebook has opened an entire universe of possibilities.  It has linked up people with one another in a manner never imagined possible.  One can discover new friends --- but more so, rediscover if not excavate/resurrect old ones who you have not seen/heard or even believed still existed or consumed oxygen from our atmosphere for the past so many decades.

Because of the sheer scope and width of the world wide web, everybody suddenly gains some sense of history and continuity. That is why we celebrate Throwback Thursdays on Facebook by posting photos of The Way We Were.

That is why it is expected that everybody is in Facebook.

Nowadays there are only three kinds of people without Facebook accounts: (a) members of the human race belonging to societies who have not heard of Oprah Winfrey or Justin Bieber (which means they still have not heard of electricity and slaughter their sources of protein with spears) (b)  deliberate snobs who refuse to be swallowed by what they think is a vacuous trend which is really meant to further exploit capitalist ventures --- or (c)  people who just couldn't care less because they believe that the anti-Christ is the worldwide web and they would rather prepare for the Rapture.

People without Facebook profiles --- or never had a Friendster or MySpace account --- seem to be aberrations of human evolution in the digital age.  

When entire chunks of knowledge or even the synopsis of an entire national history can be fit into a USB that is as big as a single Chocnut, then you realize that people must change because the whole concept of human knowledge has redesigned itself into a completely different phase.

So for anybody who still thinks that tweeting is only for the birds --- and that "Un-friending" someone is tantamount to a personal declaration of war, then something must be very very wrong with this individual's relationship not only with society around him --- but even perhaps God.  

It is just like finding happiness writing on a manual typewriter --- or believing that technology's apex was reached upon the rise of Pocketbell and Easy Call.  Anything thought to be so recent can be so easily relegated to the category of museum piece with the sheer speed of technology.

But what does this really way?  And what do all these developments mean?

Yes, I spend a certain amount of my waking hours basking on the fact that I have more than 5000 friends on my first Facebook account so much so that I had to open a second one to accommodate other friends.  I also spend a substantial amount of time updating my profile status in order to express what I feel at a given here and now.  Added to that --- and thanks to Instagram --- I do not only get to photograph myself in all sorts of exotic and not-too-exciting venues with equally interesting and even not-all-that-impressive company of people just to point out that I still have a social life.

Well, yes --- I also post the food I am eating but not as much as some of my friends who feel that it has become their moral and social obligation to photograph everything served in a dish and shoved in front of their faces for the rest of mankind to see.  As to why they do this, uh ... I really don't know. Well, not unless they are upstart or established chefs who want to show the world the wizardry of their kitchen or these are just simple cases of gastronomic excitement that you want to prove to your so-called friends that you are about to indulge in a luscious pig-out --- while they are trapped in their uneventful, bland and predictable diets.  Whatever.

Or, of course, there is that compulsion to keep taking pictures of yourself and posting them in social media --- for the universe to see not only how you look like at that split second in your human history but also where you are, who you are with and to remind everybody --- that you do not only exist: you have some kind of significance. 

They have even coined a term for that: the "selfies."  In a not too subtle way, that can also mean "digital vanity" or "online narcissim." But again, who am I to condemn or to complain? Ever since I got my smart phone, the compulsion to ask someone to take my picture so that I could upload it via Instagram has become a part of natural human behavior.  Of course, there is this hidden desire to make a head count of how many "likes" you will collect in a single photo posting --- not to mention the comments (both smart or downright stupid) from people who affirm their existence by commenting on anything but everything.

I guess that is what you call symbiosis, right? I post, you like. You can even comment.  Therefore I keep posting pictures again and again and again.

A friend of mine, a bit younger with two kids in their twenties, once complained: "I really don't get this whole thing about Twitter. Why do they keep reporting every little detail that happens to them almost every half hour of each day?  What's the point?"  I nodded in agreement with no concrete answer.

I was so bothered by his question that I tweeted it.

But I kept asking myself those same questions as well. Why is it that once you get hooked to Twitter,you have this compulsion to just keep on capturing in 150 characters all the things happening at any given moment in the here and now?  Do you feel like I am a reality show contestant thrown straight into Big Brother's House with some sense of obligation for the entire world to know what I am doing every millisecond of my waking or sleeping hours?

Do I feel like I have a Fuel band attached to my person not only measuring the amount of energy or number of calories I have consumed at any given time of the day --- but also whatever crimes and misdemeanors I am committing monitored 24/7?

I do not know if people are interested in my newfound love for Dairy Queen Oreo Cheesequake but I keep tweeting about it and claiming that it is better than sex.  Mind you, I am not a paid endorser of the ice cream chain but I love the dessert so I can't help but keep on talking about it.

I do not know what people feel when I give my comments about the latest issues --- both social and political in nature --- but I say something about it anyway, hoping that some kindred spirit will find the logic in what I have to say.

I keep updating every little thing that happens to me feeling obliged that all my followers can be appropriately informed that: (a) I am caught in the middle of a mind-boggling traffic at C5.  (b) I failed to pass Level 75 of Candy Crush Saga.  (c) I am about to go the gym to indulge in two hours of endorphin overload. (d) I am trying to find the appropriate novena for Saint Jude so that I can further endure the tests of faith offered to be ever so often by my one of my housekeepers. (e) I really don't give a flying f--k about the life of ______.  

Now how does that make my life better?  Does all this "oversharing" help me understand people inasmuch as make people get to know me better?  

A better question: will the litany of all these tiny bits of history-changing information provide epiphany for some poor soul trying to understand that marinating in angst is so last century and that the thing to do now is simply attend a Pilates or Zumba class to free yourself of inner pain?

It was only then that I realized that this whole social media thing has not only provided imaginary bridges to connect people divided by time, space and other variables of the universe.  It has also constructed a completely different paradigm for self-celebration. It has turned introspection into public exercise --- and egomania into an art if not an exercise.

Warhol was so right about this craving for fifteen minutes of fame.  Now it has been diminished to fifteen seconds --- and everybody wants a slice of the action.

When you hear, see or read about all these celebrities who make their personal lives the very core of sustaining their careers, then you begin to understand where this principle came from.  More so, you begin to see how and why the whole art of being a selfie becomes a career move, as if to validate to the world that you exist through all the twists and turns of the roller coaster of life.

That is how people validate themselves nowadays.  Some unwittingly perceive their Facebook friends and their Twitter followers as their fans.  And in order to create and sustain a personality distinct, unique and deserving of all that attention and sustained adulation, you have to keep feeding the world with updates in the form of words and photos.

Yes, because in social media --- as it is in mainstream media as well --- you are defined by your press release.  You are who you photograph. You are what you say and do. Because in a fast-paced, digitized world, when you cease to post --- then you cease to be.

I am ... there I post.  And I tweet.

Now will you please "like" this page as well?