Saturday, February 02, 2013

How much online pollution is one willing to take?

Before leaving the house this morning, I struggled with a bunch of tangled-up necklaces, aiming for the one with the glass beads, which I hadn't worn in quite a while. When pulling it out from the hook holding all the accessories proved unsuccessful, I took down all the necklaces and gingerly tugged at the one I wanted. When that didn't work, I sort of let go of a couple of the chains, hoping they would fall off from the bunch thereby letting loose the glass-beads one that started this whole untangling challenge. No luck.

Okay, just carefully untangle the tangled parts one by one and you'll get there soon enough, I told myself while thinking how much a boost to my self-esteem it would be once I successfully pulled out the blue-silver-and-gray set of chains I was fixated on (this self-confidence issue and tangled chains, cables and other kinds of cords deserves its own blog post!). Then I wondered, do most of the millions of Facebook users type status messages -- even the most mundane ones -- for the sake of their self-esteem? Does it work? Does it make them feel like celebrities? Do they end up feeling loved? I read halfway through someone's blog post about this unfortunate phenomenon of social media junkies proclaiming their opinions about everything, and it made me feel better. One does not have to acquire a bourgeoisie mentality (or to feel territorial about writing) to be disenchanted by the whole thing. I mean, when erroneous statements or really shallow views make it to the public sphere -- and worse, when netizens give their nod to such proclamations... and worst, when the dudes who make lacking-in-substance statements acquire quasi-icon status in the process -- one can swim in the waters of discouragement for some time.

But nothing can get me down and cause me more sorrow than seeing serious condescension toward another -- and by "serious" I don't mean devoid of "LOL," "hehe" or other such devices that may sometimes serve the same purpose as "Just sayin'" at the end of a potentially controversial assertion. I suppose no one is spared from occasions of expressing feelings of superiority toward others in some way. However, social media has been around long enough to make the pattern predictable: someone does something deemed way down below on the intelligence meter (or the integrity index), and all hell breaks loose, verbally speaking. And it's not of the "Oh, crap!" variety. Or maybe "What a stupid rock! It doesn't even grow and reproduce!" Or "My dog has the 'personality' of a paper clip." Or even "No-good avocado tree! Puro asthma attack na nga inaabot ng kapitbahay sa kakapausok ko sa 'yo! Ni isang bunga wala pa rin! Die! Just die!"

No, the words that can fill networking sites with such ire are directed at persons. Who knew uttering words that don't belong in civilized conversation in the real world could one day be hurled at persons by the minute in an alternate plane? And you even get to have an audience while you do so.

Thing is, there's no filter for this kind of online pollution on social media -- unless you want to see your FB friend list (or Twitter "followees") dwindle down to... maybe 30? 20? 5? But if that's the case, why would you still be on Facebook? What purpose would a Twitter account serve then? There are other digital ways of keeping in touch with the people who have a knack for spreading the love and cleaning up the mess made by others without spewing out their own dirt in the process.

The great thing is that one always has a choice on how much to participate in the online world. And that's just what I've been trying to figure out myself. One can always say -- with a tinge of doubt somewhere in there -- "I need to be on Facebook" and for vital reasons. But one can also sometimes fall into thinking that his/her presence in social media is somewhat indispensable, or that keeping away from the wired means of sharing information or drowning evil in an abundance of good -- as St. Josemaria put it -- means one isn't doing his/her part in putting Christ at the summit of all human activity.

There are trade-offs, and -- just like in other aspects of life, be it field of study, this job or that job, parenting style, and the "little" day-to-day decisions -- what will probably determine the choice are one's priorities.

Decisions, decisions. Choice -- the buzzword in some circles for many years now. I'm grateful for choices and for the fact that we in this day and age have the benefit of having more of them. But really, having so many options to choose from can sometimes be confusing. One thing's for sure -- this isn't going to be like one of those decision-making moments involving "glass-beads necklace or vintage velvet choker" choices.

* Graphics from Multilingual BPO and Elexu 

1 comment:

Ishmael Fischer Ahab said...

I feel the feeling of a "celebrity" sometimes in Facebook or even in the Internet because of my blogs and my created identity.

It seems like I'm a different person online. I feel to be more free than in my offline world.

I think that this is the same feeling of many people when they are online. They feel more free. They can bash the people that they hate because their anonymity protects them. Or they are more free to find people to "bang" because Facebook allows them to do so.

There are many online pollution out there. Our Lord say that evil comes from the heart of men and it is those evil things that are polluting the Internet.

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