My digital, intergalactic life
Manila — A month ago Facebook reminded me, through a video, of the date when I joined the social media platform 10 years ago. Surprised that I have been in social media that long, I scrolled back to that year. I had a few posts, mostly exchanges with friends who I connected with. In addition to old friends, most of my FB friends are those I met as an expat in another country and others I met in my travels. It was the year I came back home from work overseas so it was a great time to be in touch.
A few months after I joined, however, I deactivated. I retreated after seeing friends' and other people's posts that I thought were too personal or intimate to be made public. But when I sensed that it offered an easy way of communicating, I signed back in. I deactivated twice again in the following years when I got peeved with people oversharing their activities that to me was way too much information, not to mention too many selfies.
Joining Facebook and those attempts to leave made me realize how my world changed in 10 years. I joined because it was a venue to communicate with only a few friends and people I know, say only 30, but then the number grew. I have more than 400 now. Not bad when I see that some people have 4,000 friends.
While the social media networking platform gave me a new way of interacting with people, it also taught me to stay private and quiet when everyone else is displaying their online personas, some with their full resumes and professional credentials or posting more than 10 photos of the same selfie taken from different angles.
With the vast online space available and having a constant pulse on everything that’s happening on earth, which is now a habit and routine to many people, I feel the hurt that social media had inflicted on me more than the ease. But the solution to this, I found out early on, is not to follow everyone and to avoid the "too much, too often" scrolling and posting practice.
On my FB page, I don’t post on a day-to-day frequency. I put photos that do not have me in them. I want people to experience what I'm looking at from where I'm traveling to or simply, where I'm seated. I rarely rant but I express support to crusades that put people on just and equal places. Since I find Facebook already overwhelming, I don’t have an Instagram account. I'm on Twitter and that's where I get my quick reading of the news. But I don’t want to be followed. Strange and
weird? But that’s me.
When I leave social media and read a book or take a walk, I don't worry if I might be missing something. In this day of social media addiction and Internet overload, I deem it better to pay attention to real-life friendships more than my virtual relationships. They are more nourishing. Compared with the weak connections in social media, real-life and face-to-face ties are stronger, deeper and more important. These are the ties and bonds we had before social media networks even began.
So this has been my world in the last 10 years. I love technology's convenience and the fact that it continues to amaze me. I just have to maintain this healthy relationship with technology and treat it like an acquaintance. Unlike real friends, I also have to leave it once in a while to take care of downtime to appreciate the trees, the sunrises and the sunsets.
Diana Mendoza is a journalist based in Manila.