PEOPLE nowadays have been hooked on social media. From personal lives sharing and interaction with families and friends, it also became a medium for different interest groups. Apart from getting news and knowledge through it, it also provides an avenue for promoting personalities and causes. The level of engagement and affirmation that posts get is the new indicator to someone’s likeability, good image and social standing. Connectivity not being an issue, whatever data is spread can reach any point in the map. With all that it has become, majority of Internet users are now on it.
People have varying degrees of activity and online exposure. Take myself as an example, being a public servant, I use it primarily to update my constituents of the work my office has been doing to better our province’s situation. It is also effective in disseminating information and announcements and gaining support for my advocacies. I love the fact that through it, I am able to share my passion and keep in touch with the people that matter to me. Almost always, significant moments either land in my timeline or become a point of conversation for chatting. But this is not always the case for others.
Recently, in one of the family holiday gatherings I attended, we got surprised when a cousin, married, a Millennial like me– born within 1982-2004 and technologically adept–who normally posts about the things going on with her–arrived with a baby whom we thought she was just kidding to be hers, because she never shared about it online. That we missed knowing about her nine months of pregnancy and a now four-month-old baby because she did not put it online jolted us into realizing that though we thought that with social media we get to be connected so well and updated about each other as a close-knit family, we were losing actual real personal connection.
Now we ponder, up to what extent do people share and relate in social media? Does it really serve to grow our relationships? Is the posting of updates now agreed to be the new norm of keeping in touch with people? How are we coping with the lifestyle changes social media offers? What challenges and pressures come in keeping up with it? Is it supposed to be a duplication of the lives we live or has it birthed a life of its own? Is it not supposed to reflect who we are in the real world? How effective is it in bridging communication? As we put ourselves out there, open to a lot of interpretations and possible misunderstandings, has it not developed a culture of need for affirmation such that it becomes a cause for lesser self-worth that was not there before? In the bigger scheme of things, has it been helpful to our interactions or has it actually started replacing the supposed quality time we used to spend together to connect with each other?
So how far can we go with social media? Though the possibilities and opportunities are endless, we should know to use it as a tool to advance humanity’s humaneness. For in as much as it already became a convenient platform for social networking, the actual physical human touch and relations can get lost in the process as less and less actual connections happen, and fake or troll accounts are crafted, untruthful stories circulated and bullying is easier consummated. And though we find ourselves concerned with a lot of things, whether it is within our bubble or outside our sphere, we may not realize that liking, loving, reacting to another’s post online do not suffice for our relationships to flourish.
Not discounting the awareness and enlightenment we get from the social media, we must know that there is still so much out there beyond the updates we get. There are stories, good and bad left unwritten, scenes, just and unfair that can be neither captured nor posted and millions of people with more challenges and dilemmas than slow Wi-Fi connectivity or empty batteries.
Truly, there is more to the world than our engagement and freedom of expression online and it calls on us to be present, to see and feel the actual situation. It behooves us to roll-up our sleeves and despite the convenience of seeing the world from a tablet in one corner of a cozy room, we ought to make our way through our busy schedules, traverse traffic-stricken streets, long drives, bumpy roads, flooded avenues and climb uphill if we must, to find time to reach out and see each other eye to eye. Because humans as we are, to us belong both the power and the need to start and sustain actual meaningful conversations, put our hearts on the line and provide compassion and relief.
So how far can we go with social media? I think the answer lies in answering the better question, that is–how do we want it to affect us? For though change has become constant and we are uncertain of what further advancements are to come, we should know that for the time and chance that we have, we are capable of controlling our senses and taking a step backward if we must to take two steps forward for us to intentionally build strong relationships, take real action to be in a positive direction and consciously make a difference to help bring about a better universe, beyond the social media world.
Atty. Kaye Revil is the vice governor of the province of Masbate and was elected PRO for the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines. She is married to Atty. Vince Revil and they have been blessed with four children–Jovi, Bavick, Kevin and King.