I never thought it was necessary to create a Twitter account until recently when I decided that monitoring the horrendous traffic situation in EDSA every single workday was a burning need that I just couldn’t shrug off (read: commuter problems). Facebook was already too much to handle for me but I figured it’s a bit slow when it comes to real-time updates especially when it rains really hard, which happens, like, half of the year in the Philippines.
So anyway, speaking of rains, my first ever legit ‘introduction’ to Twitterverse was when Yolanda island-hopped her way through my beloved country. It was a devastating catastrophe (Yolanda deserves some redundancy here, folks) and the days that followed certainly felt like a nightmare for our fellow Filipinos living in the hardest-hit areas in Central Visayas.
If there’s anything that I observed from reading thousands of #YolandaPH tweets on the social media site aside from the fact that Twitter is, indeed, a powerful tool, it’s this thing about some Filipinos being emotional. Not emotional ‘emotional’ as in mega-crayola-sa-isang-tabi kind of emotional. No, scratch that assumption of us being too emotional – it’s actually more like Yolanda bringing out the best and worst social media behaviors in Filipino netizens (besides creating a venue where commoners with good hearts shone and where selfish politicians still found time for ugly word wars while the whole world was watching).
And yes, I had so much time in my hands to actually take screenshots of tweets that I know will surely make one feel all sorts of things, like:
1. This guy who was either ignorant or apathetic.
Me during Yolanda: WTF?! May super bagyo na’t lahat caravan pa rin iniintindi ninyo?! Be sensitive naman!
In retrospect: Life goes on. Businesses need to operate as usual.
But: The timing was a bit off, IMO.
2. This girl who insisted on being politically correct (with matching wide smile emoticon).
In retrospect: Ateng, you really shouldn’t have tweeted that. Not cool.
3. This dude who ‘likes to live dangerously’ from time to time.
In retrospect: I guess it’s really not that easy to put yourself in other’s shoes, especially when you’re inside the comforts of your cozy room and are not required to report to school or the office.
But: Filipinos in every part of the country have all experienced the effects of a strong typhoon so reading these tweets made me ask myself if we have become too resilient to easily forget past events? Remember Ondoy (Metro Manila), Pepeng (Ilocos Region), and Pablo (Davao del Norte)? We all know how it feels so a little empathy won’t hurt naman siguro.
4. This person who used #YolandaPH just to tell the world he’s joining the ‘No Shower November’ bandwagon.
In retrospect: No excuses sa pag-push ng #YolandaPH tag.
5. These gals who used the wrong emoticons.
6. These lakwatseros who were so worried that their plans might not push through because of Yolanda.
In retrospect: OA na kung OA, but there will always be a next time to jog, go to Tagaytay or visit The Fort. Kahit ambon lang ‘yan.
7. This jejemon who couldn’t do anything but to sigh.
In retrospect: I’m so mean picking on this poor soul, now I feel so bad :-(
8. This nega-star of all seasons.
9. This person who needed to see it to believe it (also the doomsday prepper).
10. This internet whore.
11. This 9gag/reddit mainstay who saw the opportunity to create another useless Internet meme.
In retrospect: It was only 6:00 in the morning and people still haven't realized the strength of Yolanda. Atom probably didn't realize the dangers of what he did either until all communication lines were cut and the water level in downtown Tacloban rose in record time.
12. This girl whose theme song is LMFAO's "I'm sexy and I know it."
In retrospect: People from around the world admire Filipinos for being resilient, for smiling amid bad times, and for knowing how to laugh whatever the situation is.
But: This tweet rather came off as insensitive (at least for me!).
13. This member of the anti-Napoles club (we all are, but this one's exceptionally angry).
In retrospect: Everyone's really mad at Janet Lim Napoles right now that it's very easy to cyberbully her and get away with it.
But: It was not a good time to go batshit crazy, spew a series of curses and wish another person any harm (even though she squandered our hard-earned money!).
14. This gal who loved the rainy weather.
In retrospect: Again, it's hard to just tell people to stop with their lives or to instruct them to be sympathetic all of a sudden.
But: Basa basa din ng current news 'pag may time para hindi masyadong maging insensitive ang mga posts.
15. This person who thought her tweet was funny.
16. And this person who is obviously kulang sa pansin.
Sir/madam, congratulations on bragging the most insensitive/pinaka-KSP douchebag of the century award. You deserve a big round of applause. And a million pitik on your pigsa.
Thoughts (medyo serious na itey and change of tone na after eating dinner :p)
Much has been said about the responsible use of social media. My honest take on this issue: the 'selfie'/me generation is not a new phenomenon. It's been here since the beginning of time. I bet if there were already smartphones and Internet in the 1800s, Jose Rizal would definitely be blogging about his travels and on the road affairs. And uploading pictures of Europe on Facebook and checking-in at Foursquare.
Social media just made everything clearer and more public, thus creating a quicker and bigger reaction from users and non-users . In the 90s, talking among 9-year-old girlfriends about how we wanted to give Nick Carter or Justin Timberlake a kiss was normal and wouldn't create a backlash. But now when a girl randomly tweets about wanting to see One Direction shirtless and ze parents discover, they ground her for a week and family friends start calling her whore, slut, and whatnot. Okay, that's a bit exaggerated but you get the drift ;-)
Now to cut this really loooong post short, what I'm just saying is that it's normal that teenagers tweet silly things. And it's normal to get irked by these silly tweets. Teenagers are entitled to voice out their opinions and we are entitled to laugh at their inexperience and make fun of their I'm-the-shizz-and-I-can-say-whatever-I-want attitude. Not that adults are any better (I personally know some morons who use social media irresponsibly, I may sometimes be one of them haha).
Honestly, I think that most of the things that a lot of people share on their social media accounts are already filtered and carefully worded so that their perceived 'image' is preserved. Also, methinks it's not really social media turning yer sons and daughters into unsympathetic little bitches but it's actually social media uncovering what really goes behind that thick skull of theirs, much like what went through your lolo and lola's heads several decades ago. But who knows, really?
Then again, does this really explain and justify the lack of compassion and empathy of some Filipino netizens during Yolanda? I, for one, was very affected while reading those tweets. As in mega laki 'yung butas ng ilong ko sa pagka-jimbey. But later on I realized that hating on these foolish netizens doesn't really make me any better than them, and that they do not represent what most Filipinos felt after seeing the significant damage brought about by Yolanda.
Super wala ng konek sa first part ng post ko itong pinagsasabi ko and now I'm wondering what prompted me to write this piece in the first place :p I probably wanted to feel a little better about myself by highlighting the stupidity of some netizens (yes, 1.5 months after Yolanda). But now I just feel so mean, and disorganized and incoherent that my thesis adviser will feel embarrassed when she sees this :( HAHA.