The Social Media Desiderata
I wake up in the morning and check notifications on my phone. My work involves making sense of all that noise in the virtual world, and often contributing to it. I Tweet during meals, I Plurk in the toilet. I blog while drinking. Happiness is in being trending, in being an influencer, in being followed.
I’m at peace only when I’m retweeted or when my posts are being liked and shared on Facebook.
Okay, I’ll stop there.
Filipino homes share some common elements in the way of interior decor and design. Like those tacky-looking “Weapons of Moroland” plaques. Or reliefs of The Last Supper on hardwood panels, hanging by the dining room. There’s the giant wooden spoon in the kitchen: having a giant wooden fork nearby is a sign of a bit of wealth going on for the family.
There are the cloth calendars bearing each family member’s name stamped in red: the cloth usually dyed black and finished in faux velvet, printed with some image of a tigress and her cubs drinking from a clear stream in the middle of the jungle. There’s the roll-up bamboo mat of “Footprints in the Sand,” with brush-strokes that make the English verses look Oriental.
And then there’s the faded poster of the “Desiderata,” either tacked to the door of an aparador, or next to the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Because it’s supposed to inspire. Because it’s supposed to be a blueprint to happiness. Because sometimes you need to be reminded that the way you’re living life just borders on navel-gazing, self-flagellating self-mortification.
And since we’re the leading “social media nation” in the world, here’s my take on the poem:
Go placidly amid the tweets and Facebook posts
and remember what peace there may be in not updating it all the time.
As much as possible without surrender,
be on good terms with the people you’re following.
Speak your truth in just 140 characters;
and retweet others,
even the dull and the bot-like;
they too have their story.
Avoid spammers and aggressive commenters,
they are vexations to loading times.
If you compare your Klout with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always, there will be a point in time that you’ll be an influencer yourself.
Enjoy your social networks as well as your posts.
Keep interested in your own outposts, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing digital landscape.
Exercise caution in the things you click;
for the world is full of bad memes.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for quality posts;
and everywhere there’s something new to see.
Be yourself in comment threads.
Especially, do not feign intelligence.
Neither be cynical about the opinions of others;
for in the face of all stupidity and disillusionment
it is as perennial as “x is the new y” stuff from Mashable.
Take kindly the counsel of your peers,
gracefully addressing the questions of youth.
Nurture thickness of skin to shield you in sudden flame wars.
But do not distress yourself with feeding trolls.
Many fears are born of unnecessary Tweeting.
Beyond being popular or trending,
be gentle with your online self.
You are but a person with a computer,
no less than kids with computers and superstars with computers;
you have – and you don’t – have a right to be here.
And whether or not links are labeled “NSFW” for you,
no doubt, in this universe, you only get what you put in.
Therefore be at peace with the Internet,
whatever you conceive it to be,
and whatever you use it for,
in the noisy confusion of updates, there is life outside of it.
With all its spam, noise, and broken promises,
it is still a pretty damn good way to waste time.
Disconnect every once in a while.