Under the Digital Hood

“So, when are you going back?” a good friend asked.

“Back where?” I asked, clarifying the statement as I mixed the sesame seed dressing on the vegetable mix.

“On Facebook!” she said.

I paused while I chewed the remains of my delicious pork tonkatsu. “NEVER?” I said in a half-determined, half-hesitant stance.

Determined because I never gave it a thought until mentioned in this dinner. Hesitant because I surely do not want to sound like I am a buzzkill to people who are active on social media.

It was a hard decision to explain. But for almost two years of not maintaining a social media account, I have learned to tinker endlessly in the fascinating new world that runs underneath the digital hood where most people park their brains.

It’s not to condescendingly say that the view from here is better than out in the front end of digital things. It’s just that, I acclimatize better with the behind the scenes of the world wide web. I found myself when I shut the rest of the social media world out, basically.  That it works for me. It may not necessarily work this way for others, and I know that.

I occasionally dip and pop in a Google search of a trend, person, or object here and there if curiosity compels me to check on something that I cannot find in the digital underworld. When there is something new that is of interest to me, I would go to Twitter as a guest and search the hash tags for information.

But there are certain things that I do not really miss about having a social media account. If I may indicate the top five things I got rid of in the last two years which makes me happily turn my back on Facebook :

a.) Miss I must have everything on so-and-so’s wall posts. She is the close twin sister of I must post things beyond my means to impress people I do not like. And she is also a nearby cousin of I am good at everything that you do, whatever it is, because my life satisfaction depends on how better I am than you or other friends on my list.

b.) Miss “I want to inspire other people” on her Ask.fm account who in real life actually does sinister things like use people to advance her selfish agenda. Of course, she hides that in her sickening facade of flashy photographs that highlights everything she wants others to see but absolutely nothing about her real selfish and backstabbing person.

You will be so surprised how many “successful” online people get away with what they do to others in real life because of the smoke and mirrors they project to the world.

c.) Miss Kapalmuks and True-to-Life Palengkera turned Social Media Sosyalera kuno who only got a big break after a big, almost-desperate stance for viable employment but proudly brandishes her job offer to others as if it landed on her hands without effort. Now she brags about it. (Some people actually use another person’s head as stepping stones for their “success”)

d.) Miss Facebook Friend only to people through passive comments, likes, and “awwws” and never when it really counts (e.g. offline, during a real life crisis, when it takes EFFORT to love a friend for real and get involved, etc.)

e.) Mr. I want to womanize against my girlfriend or wife but I am such a wimp so I just use Facebook to flirt with random pretty faces.

I am not talking about particular persons (bato bato sa langit) but avatars of really horrible people who pollute their accounts with pretentiousness and expects the world to pay obeisance to their self-made altars of self-importance. They even behave as if it’s your honor and privilege to have these useless, self-important updates on your account. Plus, you will even be faced with the social faux pas or mental burden in having to add a person from real life that you do not like but you cannot reject because it’s too impolite to do so.

If I may be bold, occasionally, I have even become one of these toxic avatars I have mentioned.

This is no popular opinion, but I have come to realize that the misuse of social media is too common, the invitation to be your worst fake self to others is so daunting, and the replacement of real-life friendships for artificial Like-infested ones is so threatening.

And for as long the computer is accessible to any Dick or Harry who wants to dump you with fake things, it will always be a complete muddle to engage in. There will be more garbage to sort than gems to check.

Of course, there are new options on Facebook to filter your news feed. But why go through all that mechanical effort. You can just meet people as they are, face to face. You can just say yes or no to an invitation to communicate quickly. You do not need to have a green online chat status just to make yourself a real person that anyone can converse with.

I have heard so many stories of people who get depressed after spending so much time perusing their Facebook news feed. As if the scientific studies outlined here, here, and here are not enough to make people realize that taking a break from social media will do more for them than swallowing extra pills for depression.

Why make life into a like-fest, in a vain effort to impress people that we won’t be caught dead hanging out with in real life?

These days, it just seems so wasteful. What I once did as a habitual hiatus eventually became a permanent termination of my relationship to my old accounts. Not that I am expecting people to follow suit. I am not. This is totally unconventional.

There are hard to reach friends from overseas who can benefit from the convenience of a Facebook account. I struggle to keep in touch with a very good friend in the US. But we became really resourceful about our interaction because we want to keep the communication lines open.

For my true friends, those who miss me enough to hunt me down despite my elusive digital state, it was not too difficult to arrange for a dinner date or a virtual date (for extremely long distances).

Surprisingly, for a person with no social media account, my calendar is still quite FULL.:) I go out with friends almost every night. It’s actually surprising, considering my hermit-like digital status and my efforts to pursuing minimalism.

All excuses fly out the window once you choose to live in the real world. It’s either your friends love you enough to communicate with you in another less convenient but more meaningful way or they just lose touch. Everyone else has Facebook and if there is a quick word I need to send, I just course it to another friend who is active on Facebook. It rarely happens that I have that need.

I have email and a cellular phone that I check super rarely. And I have a house or a nearby coffee shop or a mall area if someone really needs to meet up. If I needed to locate someone or talk to him or her, I can just do most of the searching in the old-fashioned way. Otherwise, I can stay invisible or refuse to talk to people who are not really my friends.

It simplified my life sooooooo much. It made me more focused in minding my own business than living my life poring through selected digital facets posted on another person’s wall.

So, when will I be back?

The truth is, I have never really “ARRIVED” to the people who matter until the day I decided to kill all my social media accounts for personal use.

I will probably use it for work when I am testing some social media API for my client. But other than that, at the moment, I believe that this calm lake of living under the digital hood is my virtual paradise.







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