Social media in the Philippines: Stunted “power” dragged down by apathetic populace

If there’s one major pet peeve I can think of regarding most people’s behavior in social networks, it is the overwhelming indifference to issues that directly affect them in one way or another. I can live with and even tolerate the ‘hey-look-at-me-and-what-I’m-doing-right-this-very-moment’ antics that many of us have been guilty of the moment we opened an account. I mean at this point, who hasn’t? The fact that you even opened an account means there’s  something in you that’s just screaming for some sort  of attention.

But what really irks me these days is not even an active part of people’s behavior in these networks like posting neverending strings of selfies, food photos, annoying religious propaganda utilizing spiritual blackmail, rants, melodrama and all other minor nonsense you have come to expect from the majority of your online contacts. It’s already a given. No sense in fighting an uphill battle on that one.

a2858150893_16Maybe cull the list of these annoying characters, but what will that give you? 5-10 sensible contacts left at most? And most of those guiltiest are not exactly strangers you do not get to interact with in real life so that’s a big NO  in terms of unfriending or unfollowing. Besides, there’s  a perverted joy in knowing that, in some ways, you do not behave like the rest of the sheep, but that’s just me and I’m already digressing.

The point is that while social media may have been the perfect avenue where people can share information, somewhere along those lines the interpretation of the term “share” got perverted. Apparently to most that meant sharing every infinitesimal bits of their sordid lives 24/7, round the clock. No lunchbreaks. Which is too bad because for all the accessibility and “free” information this newfangled avenue has accorded to us mere mortals, most people—like some of the fables talking about men being given the power and capability to affect change—just squander the opportunity for personal gratification.

I guess it would be too much to ask of people to post something other users can actually learn from. And I’m not even talking about serious posts about science, math, politics, philosophy or even current events. I’m talking about anything not remotely connected personally to the user. Might be a trailer. Meme. Anything. At least those are good practices of actually veering the spotlight away from you for a change. Won’t get as much likes and RTs as those duckface portrait you did, but that’s sort of what the point is of that little exercise. And people would at least get to take something out of it. Useless information, maybe. But still a lot more useful than the nth information you have presented about yourself. Just how many photos do people need to remind them of how good-looking you are, in the first place?

The most annoying thing, I found, wasn’t what the people were doing but what they were not doing that tops it off in that aspect. For all the talks coming from mainstream media about using social media responsibly, those appeals seem to have fallen upon deaf ears. Yes, responsibly posting non-damaging materials to others is well and good but how does one define ‘responsibly’ in this context? And for that matter, whatever happened to civil responsibility as a citizen?

I remember sharing this meme from a Facebook group I was part of in my own timeline just a few days ago:

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I did so because 1) I believe many people still aren’t very aware of this and 2) because I was hoping someone/anyone from my own personal contacts will share it to their own contacts and so on and so forth until the thing becomes exponential to a point. Note that while a lot of people might argue that it’s political in nature (which for some reason is balked at by people in Facebook) it’s not exactly polarizing that forces people into taking sides. It’s more of a public reminder that yes, you as a taxpayer/citizen have a right on meddling with the affairs of the state because that’s where the huge chunk of your paycheck goes directly into.

Let’s just say you can hear the crickets and see the tumbleweeds as far as that thing is concerned.

I liken this sort of behavior to the annoying modern cinema-goer bombarded by sensory overload 24/7: They can’t be bothered by the quiet parts of the movie—mostly quiet, introspective dialogues between the lead characters that actually is the most important part of the movie as it gives insight to the characters’ motivations and illuminating details on the story—so they resort to other activities like checking their phones or maybe get a much deserved bathroom break. Nothing’s missed, so to speak.

And when everything gets loud and they’re riveted on the action and spectacle right in front of them and some character goes out of the way to do something totally unexpected, they turn to you for an explanation. And all you can do is keep yourself from strangling said person for not paying attention to the details that require it the most.

So yeah, politics and current events are boring. YOLO, right? Right.

What was that bold claim Rappler.com keeps on chest-beating itself on? “Digitally fuelled actions for social change“?

Social change. Digital. LOL to the nth.

Keep dreaming. Pinoys are hard to beat in that game. At least there, we win as a collective—as a people.

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