You really have to be very, very careful nowadays.
The internet has provided the arena for anyone if not everyone to:
(a) say what he wants to say when he feels like saying it
(b) announce to the world what he is doing, wearing, eating, going or even thinking
(c) share with the universe everything that can possibly shared --- even those that should not be talked about much less discussed outside the privacy of bedrooms and court rooms.
Ah, but that is the new freedom, isn't it? This is the age of oversharing when you can expose anything you like about your private life to the hungry public all in the name of being ... uh, truthful or true to yourself.
You are not only entitled to say what you think is worth saying at that precise moment when it should be said. It also allows you to become the easy target for people who have interest in you --- whether positively or negatively.
In the worldwide web, making your presence felt also makes you an immobile target because every day is open season. You are subject to dissection and analysis --- more so misinterpretation --- most especially by people who have as strong opinions but not necessarily as intelligent (or verbose) as you.
A friend of mine who prefers to brand himself "techno-naive" says she prefers to keep away from social media because she refuses to develop any form of addiction for "announcing to the world minute details of my life."
She assured me that hers was not a life interesting enough to be chronicled in Instagram or given 140-character updates on Twitter. She said she dreaded the little seconds dedicated to self-made videos of Snapchat.
She even stood up and turned around to show me that her derriere was not a threat to the legendary posterior of that Kim Kardashian.
She said that she would be useless in a reality show because there is nothing interesting ... much less, perverse about her.
"I do not have the reality star complex," she insisted, "I am one of the few remaining people who would rather keep my opinion to myself and not throw myself to the wolves by just expressing what I believe in. And I do not have the slightest urge to be a fame whore."
I told her that in a world overflowing with photos, videos and opinions, one must make his or her presence felt. This was the necessity that brought about social media. You do not only seek attention but also elicit interaction.
Upon hearing this, my friend wrinkled her nose and said, "Well, whoever said that I needed the validation of some anonymous dickhead out there in cyberspace to assure me that I am good enough for them?"
Of course I knew my friend was always an exception to the rule.
In the year 2015 she still does not have a Facebook account. She said that she had no compulsion to post photos of what she is eating for breakfast ... or share with the rest of humanity what is happening in every millisecond of her here and now. She said that there must be something demented to be over-exposing yourself to the public.
"It must be the result of some really bad childhood traumas."
I laughed and said that Facebook is basically for networking. It is also a way of assuring yourself that you are still a part of the plugged-in human race.
"Honestly," she told me, "I think it is so extremely redundant that you keep posting all those bowls of ramen that you eat about twice a week. Have you ever thought that people who supposedly follow you couldn't care? And does that qualify you to be a part of the human race? That you eat ramen once or twice a week?"
I just couldn't help but laugh although she did make a lot of sense.
There was a life before the internet. We had our own spheres of existence and defined privacy before the dawning of the age of the worldwide web. We also had our issues, we had our opinions... but we had a different kind of interaction.
The internet redefined all that, didn't it?
Nowadays, you cannot allow yourself to be swept away by a moment of passion or temporary insanity. The moment you let your emotions get the most of you and you start expressing your thoughts right at that critical moment --- chances are, you are going to ask for trouble.
Why? Simple. This is because:
(a) there will always be someone out there who does not and will never like you. Even if you reworded the Ten Commandments and tweeted them in quick succession, chances are you will be bashed, castigated, insulted, mocked and deliberately masticated because ... that is his mission in life.
(b) since you are trying to sound important and intelligent, then expect someone who will try to prove to you (and the rest of the cyber universe) that he or she or they are more important and more intelligent than you can ever possibly imagine yourself to be. Ganoon lang yon. Kung feeling maangas ka, Dude ... merong mas astig sa yo. That's all.
(c) there are people who love to take the opposite side of the argument because ... they are made that way. They feel that it is their mission in life to be the spirit of contradiction. And sometimes even if they are not sure of what they are saying, they can delude themselves into believing that what they are saying is true. In the process, they can also convince others that they actually make sense.
(d) there are people dedicated to the Church of Causes --- whether political, religious, philosophical or even nonsensical. They are the die hard rah-rah armies, usually tied together by good financing or a sense of despair to make them cling onto delusions of hope and tunnel visions. These are the contemporary zealots that you do not mess around with because they have all the logic and diplomacy of a mob.
After some deep thought, I realized that what my friend said made a lot of sense.
"Face it. There are people out there foisting what they think because they want to show the world that they can think ... that they are astig. But what for? To show everyone that they're better?"
She laughed and said: "That's just a mental jack-off that can turn you into a jackass in the eyes of people who can see through all your big words and grand gestures. You are just attention-seeking under the guise of being an intellectual or someone eloquent with opinions."
Maybe this whole involvement in social media is actually a masochistic exercise of sorts.
Inasmuch as each time somebody posts anything --- whether a photograph of a half-eaten pizza, a quotable quote to end all quotes or even a holy reading from the Dead Sea Scrolls ... one thing is for sure, somebody is bound to react. And reactions are exactly why you post anything, right?
Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you are anticipating the number of people to press the LIKE button or to line your posting with affirming and assuring comments.
We post photos of the dishes we are cooking in the kitchen or the food we are about to ram down our esophagus because we want to prove to the world that we are capable of creating or gaining access to such dishes. You do not photograph food for the sake of posterity or to tell your grandchildren than on the 15th of June in 2015 that you had the most delicious chunk of medium rare Kobe steak, right?
You only want to announce to everybody that you are happy because you are about to masticate prime quality beef --- and they're not.
We post photos of our OTD (Outfit of the Day) looking somewhat inane/stupid/zombie-like/pretentious in front of a full length mirror while holding our smart phones --- so that the world can see how beautiful you are in your brand new H and M outfit which is your pang-araw-araw.
Not unless you are an artista who is so KSP (Kulang sa Promotions), then there is really no line of acceptable logic why you are posing like an atat na atat editorial model in dire need of a photographer wearing outfits to post on Instagram. You are actually expecting a head count of people saying how gorgeous you are in your look.
Or when you do selfies with your tropa as you all look drunk/happy/smashed out of your brains/chilling either in the exciting, electrifying dance floor of Valkyrie or looking so cool/young/fun-loving on the white sands of Laboracay --- you are actually announcing to the world your social status. And how happy you are to be young, can-afford and ... about to have the best lay this side of the lunar cycle.
You are telling the world, "I'm here. I belong. You don't."
And that is so cool.
Or when you start putting up shoutouts or tweeting statements that deal with political commentary --- whether pro or against the present dispensation --- then brace yourself.
Bashing the government and personalities who populate the Olympus of Power is almost as dangerous as openly criticizing or maligning a movie star with a following that is close to the devotion of a cult. Diss someone, then expect a reaction. There will be those who will applaud and agree --- in the same manner that there are also a whole lot of others who will go out of their way to prove:
(A) Their superior intelligence in analyzing political issues as well as the state of nation which makes you wonder why they are not working for the government if they are such great assets to the history of the Republic;
(B) Their partisan leanings, whether validated or justified by some form of patronage --- or nepotistic connection.
(C) Their foregone conclusion that you are nothing more than a tireless banshee, a pain in the rectum who must be going chemical imbalance because of menopause or andropause --- and should be put to sleep just in order to shut the f--k up.
So each time you announce your thoughts or post an image --- just think. The worldwide web has been so democratized that even if you don't owe anyone any explanation about what you do on your wall ... they also have the same freedom to have an opinion and bash you to the point of being pulverized. And you can't do a thing about it.
My techno-naive friend had this smirk on her face when she said: "Remember the saying: you must be able to handle the feedback if you are going out of your way to make some noise. No one asked you to do that. That was your choice. If you have an opinion, well .... so do they ... and you have to learn to deal with it."
She further added: "Let's face it. Some people have the right ideas ... but they're just so full of themselves that people just want them to shut up."
I guess what she really wanted to tell me was that --- if you do not want to be cyberbullied, then learn the art of shutting up.
Or go write a journal that nobody else can read. If that is your sort of thing.