What My Life Was Like Before Social Media Took Over
It has taken me awhile to accept the reality that we are now living in an era where self-made social media stars have become our idols, we photograph our well-plated food and woke-up-like-this faces (and it's not Christmas morning or anything!), and it has become possible to communicate without the need for words, and by this I don't mean secret hand signals or facial expressions, but emojis.
It could be my tita instincts kicking in, or I may plainly be feeling sentimental. After all, I was a child who grew up to experience life before the information age, devoid of pocketable small screens and instant everything.
So here's where I try to make sense of life's little moments, which, I feel have in a way been trivialized because of the nature of the digital landscape. I take note of the times worth treasuring...
NO PHONES ON THE TABLE
I have probably acquired the habit at work, you know, eating lunch with our phones on the table. Everyone seemed to do it, bosses, colleagues, the admin assistants and accountants. I used to be content with my old Nokia, my non-QWERTY phone, despite everyone frightened at the sight of it and pestering me to get a new one. That is, until social media became part of my job description, which then began my journey to an always-on, 24/7 self.
I lived that way only until recently, when I decided to switch jobs and live life beyond my android phone. Slowly, I made it a conscious effort to leave my phone inside my bag or place it behind me while eating, and the funny thing is, I do notice others doing the same. And when that happens, I actually get kilig. I'll feel touched and take it as a sign that the person I'm with is all ears, is in the moment, and has all my attention. More of these, please.
INSTAGRAM MOTHERS AND BOYFRIENDS
Enough judging of people taking photos of whatever they fancy—documenting the daily grind is now a fact of life we must all accept. So now what touches my heart is when my boyfriend or my mother, who both essentially have little to zero presence on social media, actually make the effort to understand what I'm doing.
From taking my photos to helping me decide what to post, I consult with them trivial concerns such as checking if the line where the sky meets the sea is absolutely straight. In the middle of it all, I realize that we should especially be thankful, too, for our mothers who have finally accepted the fact that we aren’t the type to take photos against the backdrop of a magandang tanawin or under the welcome arc of a province we’re visiting for the first time anymore, in the way that they used to with their Kodak film cameras.
I don't want there to come a time when the photo shoots would become a norm, too often, and rather expected, that you and I will start taking our Instagram mothers and boyfriends for granted. No way.
DRESSING DOWN AND LOW-KEY CELEBRATIONS
While I’m admittedly a fan of dressing up, putting on my heavy earrings, and all that jazz, that doesn’t mean to say I don’t enjoy being in a plain Jane jeans and tee, too—and one that isn't Instagram-worthy. These days, I catch myself enjoying intimate dinners that aren’t properly documented because, you know, it feels great when you’re having too much fun that you really forget to take out your phone and snap the moment.
Not that I resent the well-planned ones with matching outfits and decor that would make a great Instagram post. But that's a different story.
THE HOBBIES WE DID IN ELEMENTARY SUMMERS
I remember summer afternoons when I’d read Archie comics after lunch and eat junk food and then take a nap, or in tita speak—siesta. And then we would play outside until it gets dark, or I’d think of a DIY project to do indoors, like weaving friendship bracelets or building a makeshift fortress with blankets and bed sheets. The old summer days were the times when we could be ourselves, do what we really wanted to do, without school work or anything that's required with a grade to bribe getting in the way.
While today we get Facebook greetings, virtual hugs, a "heart" on a status and such, I’ve learned to appreciate handwritten notes, postcards, all the more, and the other offline hobbies we usually just did for the sake of. I miss the summers where I'd get to explore new interests and be able to indulge in these new worlds offline. It's strange how "surfing the net" has become more a regular thing than a hobby, but I guess that's how it is today.
They say as you grow older you lose friends, or keep in touch with fewer and fewer. On one hand it might sound like such a sad thing, but at the same time I feel it’s nice to have a handful of close friends that you actually see and meet up with regularly.
Especially in this day and age when it’s so easy to cancel with just a text message (no need to call or tell someone face to face!), ignore an invite, or simply communicate online, you know it’s real effort made when a friend continues and chooses to be actually present in your life. To be virtually there is one thing, but to be present is another.
WALKING AND COMMUTING
For someone who used to write and finish articles while riding the train, I have now reduced my phone usage while commuting to work or wherever by just making it my mp3 player and listening to music. Aside from the fact that walking makes your heart race and gives your cheeks a natural flush ala Heidi, Girl Of The Alps, it also clears your mind, allows you to notice the beauty of the daily and what’s around you, and possibly even interact (make eye contact!) with others.
Being in transit despite the horrendous Manila chaos is when you’re not supposed to take calls or look at your phone, right? It's very dangerous. So for me, it's that short span of time being disconnected that then makes the amoy araw scent I'll have after a long walk actually worth it. I'll try my best to use my phone only when I need to distract myself from all the commuting noise.
Photos are by Jem Bautista.