BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Sun, Sea and Our Oars

In Vietnam, there is a saying: "Standing on top of one mountain and gazing at the top of another, you think you'd rather be standing on the other mountain."

In this age of Facebook and Twitter and the narcissistic world that it has created, a lot of people these days end up stabbing each other's backs, pulling peers down to their levels, driven by envy and the need to nurture their bruised egos.

It's all over. I believe social media has made people more envious of others, more narcissistic than ever and disgustingly more disconnected from one another.

As what Stephen Marche said in this insightful piece, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?, the world that Facebook has created has endangered the real world that we live in. There is that evil of comparison as photos and Facebook statuses of everyone else but one's own seem to be better -- the perfect family, the perfect vacation, the best kids one can have or the best school.

Individuals with tendency to be insecure become more insecure while others in need of pat on the backs for their wounded egos turn to Facebook for comfort. This government official Tweets about his weekend activities more than he does about his crucial role in government. Yesterday, he referred to himself in the third person. What can be more narcissistic than that?

Facebook can create photographers out of individuals who just pretend to be as such. You'd think that when you post a photograph and you get 100 likes, you can submit it to World Press or to Natgeo. Little do you know that for every one "like" you get, you'd probably have 10 "dislikes" for the same photograph.

On Facebook, you can form a cult of like-minded individuals who excrete the same shit. Those in need of blow jobs can get it from Facebook or Twitter, 24/7.

You'd think because you have economic journalists following you or are "Friends" with you on Facebook, you can get away not covering your assignments and just fishing stories from your so-called friends.

But disconnection and narcissism are not my main points. They're just drops in the bucket. What I find lamentable in this digital age is how technology has given people more reasons to stab each other.

It has made the world worst that in it is, making innately envious people more envious than they were ever before.

You see someone's status and you end up feeling sad because you're not on the same boat. You see someone's wall and wonder why you didn't get that assignment or trip. You see a workshop and you come up with an absolutely hilarious narcissistic thought that it should have been you giving that workshop.

Facebook or Twitter are not the main culprits, though. Everything lies on the individual. Evil intentions will manifest so long as they are there innate in you, whether it's in the digital or the real world.

And that is the most lamentable fact. The world is worst than it is. It's a dog-eat-dog world, now filled with carnivores lurking in the digital universe.

The good news is, it's still in our control. It's a huge world out there. There is room for everyone, there is room for all 6 billion people to have a space in the sun. There is space for contentment. For love. For genuine connections. For friends. No need to gaze at the other mountain and feel sorry that you're not standing on top of it.

Go out to the sea and paddle your own oar.