When the Philippine candidate for Ms. Universe was asked what the most significant thing was that she has seen in the last ten years, she was stumped for an answer. It could have been nerves that led her to not fully comprehend the question. Or it could be that she really just didn’t get the point of the question. Either way, her answer left many wanting.
I would have answered social media. The last decade has seen the progress of social media and how it has overtaken the lives of everyone, in big and small ways. Our lives are projected online at a level such that we have not seen. What we believe in, what our thoughts are, who we meet, our relationships, our views and stands on issues, our rants and complaints on daily life, where we go, what we do on a daily basis. Everything is publicized. There is the risk that if used irresponsibly, it can change one’s life. These days, everything is just a click away. And it’s scary to think that social media’s influence over our lives is more powerful than we even see or comprehend.
Whenever I feel like social media takes over my life, I take a step back. This isn’t the first time I’ve pulled back and withdrawn. Sometimes, everything is just too much for me. There is always that pull to post, to express; always the need to say our thoughts out loud. Why is that? It’s not the same for each person. People use social media for various reasons, and they’re not necessarily wrong. I use it the way I use a blog. I use it to connect. I am a writer and storyteller by heart. I love expressing myself and sharing lessons and things I encounter everyday. But the way social media works is that your expressions become subject to many opinions. You don’t necessarily write these things out for anybody, not even for a response. You just simply write. But by expressing yourself, you give a glimpse of your life to people, and you cannot control how they perceive you based on your expressions. This much freedom of expression and opinion can be a double–edged sword. It carries risks and costs. It is both favorable and non-favorable. It causes people to understand and misunderstand you. That’s how it always works with free speech. And oftentimes, I just get tired having to explain myself away.
I’ve decided that this year, I would like to lessen activities online, and be more present and in tune with people and reality. It is good that I am able to connect and share stories to people, but something in my heart is also just sick, or maybe tired, of all that we do to express ourselves and risk being misunderstood or misread.
The operative word is try. I will try, by God’s grace, this year to be less present online, and more present offline.