It’s been five months since I deactivated my public Facebook account which contains many acquaintances and very few close friends. I am only using a work-only Facebook account that often appears like a weird spam or dummy account. I redefined my usage of Facebook from a social networking tool to a tool that I use for researching article topics, reading up on my favorite online publications, checking on the latest news in the world, buying stuff, and joining Facebook groups that I genuinely like. There are no selfies, status updates, feverish adding of people (although when asked at social functions, I provide it now as my main account), notes, or whatnots. My family now prefers to tag me using my dummy, work-only account on some photos in the absence of my now-deactivated public page. Honestly, I prefer not to be tagged there but it’s just the way it works under normal circumstances.
Facebook impacts a lot of lives, and I redefined my usage of it to suit my needs. I have my online involvement with this blog and When in Manila when I want to share something to the world. And I have Twitter for my micro-blogging requirements or the random minutiae of my day. I also have Instagram when I want to highlight certain services visually. Recently, Facebook opened its Philippine office. The brand’s presence in the country continues to go strong. My mother posts feverishly and it is eerily similar to my old style of using the giant social media website. We are deeply inside this Facebook culture that I often find myself sheepishly explaining my Facebook account appearance to people who are really requiring me or asking me to add them up. I just don’t volunteer the information about my account unless I really need it to keep in touch with certain people like my parents, my siblings, and people I work/collaborate with. You won’t even see my face on the display photo. And it was designed exactly in the way that I want it– for it to be invisible and invoked only on extremely important and unavoidable circumstances.
Going low profile is one of the best life decisions I have made last year and it continues to be so this year. The nearest and dearest to my heart know how and where to find me. And they also know that I am more active on email and texting than FB messenger. Since it’s election season, I chat with friends on iMessage and they tell me how toxic their news feeds are with the extensive political commentaries and verbal vitriol. One of my bestfriends from my former government job is actually contemplating erasing the Facebook app on her iPhone because it was just unbearably toxic for her. I felt like I prepared well for this season because having this weird but efficient kind of FB setup minimized my exposure to toxic vibes.
Whoever I vote for is as private as my underwear. I don’t need to post a political commentary to justify my choice of presidential candidate. Some friends tend to fish on who’s my bet. But I just tell them I am an undecided. It amuses me to see everyone fighting tooth and nail for their candidate. I respect each person. Voting is a right. Not that I don’t care as much as they do. I really do. I read a lot as a lurker. I just figured that unless that passion for supporting a presidential candidate is coupled with real and tangible action offline to make this country better, it’s kind of pointless to banter about my political choices. I mean, I suppose everyone is thinking of what’s best for the country. Everyone naturally thinks that they are right, and that their choice is the best one.
These days, I usually think well of people, give them the benefit of the doubt. This world is far from ideal. This world is full of trolls. But there are good people out there, and for as long as they are there, it’s not entirely hopeless. The strange thing was that in my new Facebook setup, I learned to believe again, to be in tune with who I really am (not what the mainstream wants me to believe or become), and to make really firm choices about the elections and in my life that I genuinely want.
In removing the distracting, marketplace-like noise from my former social media account, I managed to find the beauty of using Facebook as what it was originally designed for– a tool for connecting people and resources. These days, it’s being used as an arena for whose opinion is better, whose candidate is better, whose “public life” and exploits is better, etc.
And since people don’t know too much about me these days, I get to have more meaningful hours of face to face conversations with the people who are close to me when we catch up with each other. Instead of building a wedge, it has done wonders for my relationships. I don’t have to add people in Facebook out of social obligations because nobody really knows that it’s me who owns that obscure account unless they are actively finding me in the network. The mystery of not following someone on Facebook and hearing their stories live during a bonding session is refreshing and better than a cup of well-made coffee. You pay more attention. You savor the moment. You give that person your undivided attention. There’s also this unique magic of bumping into someone somewhere and being actually happy that you do not have an image or default impression of their Facebook wall. You get to see for yourself by looking in their eyes and saying “Kumusta ka na? It’s been ages!” with a very unparalleled level of surprise and thrill.
It’s just very radical, this low-key setup. But it works for me. And I really wish the Facebook friends in my old account the very best in their lives even if I don’t subscribe to everything about them now. It’s a tough adjustment at first, but these days, I get the power to choose who I want to keep in touch with and when I want to keep in touch with them. I do not see myself going against this low-key and redefined social media setup that I have built for myself.