Getting unwanted mileage on an outfit or status in the age of Facebook and Instagram

FELLOW journalist Tanya Lara and I with a group of present-day San Francisco peaceniks.

FELLOW journalist Tanya Lara and I with a group of present-day San Francisco peaceniks.

TWO Decembers ago, a fellow journalist captured an all-too-real dilemma every woman must be facing in today’s world. While we were doing the shops in New York City, she and another woman from our group were discussing the merits of buying a certain dress for the holidays.

Since it was the Christmas season, the dresses featured in almost all the stores we went to were either predictably bright or sparkly with enough beads, paillettes and sequins to light up even the darkest corners of Tora Bora, Osama Bin Laden’s original mountain hideout.

After several minutes of seeking almost everyone’s opinion, the woman was still agonizing whether or not to buy a beaded metallic number in copper. She was clearly in love with the dress, but, for some reason, couldn’t quite explain herself why she was reluctant to buy it.

Not in this age

I WAS almost late for the opening day coverage, as the "bus," which looks like a cable car, was set to leave. Here I am trying to catch my breath.

I WAS almost late for the opening day coverage, as the “bus,” which looks like a cable car, was set to leave. Here I am trying to catch my breath.

Finally, my journalist-friend said this line, which, once and for all, ended the debate: “In the age of Facebook, I don’t think you’d get a lot of mileage from that dress.”

Indeed, the dress, although quite a head-turning beauty, was so remarkable, you’d have to be a genius like Grace Coddington (the woman’s memoir is a must read!) or our very own Liza Ilarde to be able to restyle it. Otherwise, you could only wear it once the entire season lest your fashionista friends accuse you of doing a “repeat performance.” Unthinkable!

And these self-styled members of the fashion police need not be physically present. Thanks to your uploaded images on Facebook and, now, Instagram, they would now know how you look, and even when and where you wore a particular outfit.

PRETTY as a picture: Tanya and I do the streets of San Francisco.

PRETTY as a picture: Tanya and I do the streets of San Francisco.

And the worst part is, even if you try to be as discreet as possible by refraining from posting anything, it only takes another friend or two to upload images of them with you in the frame for all your common friends to find out.

Intrusive

But I think the story’s bigger lesson was how we’ve unwittingly allowed Facebook and other forms of social media to intrude and reveal certain facets of our lives, including where we are right this very second, more than what we probably want to reveal.

Although, I’ve had no problems inflicting on others pictures of myself wearing variations of pieces found in my fairly huge and disorganized wardrobe (who’d care, anyway?), I’ve learned my lesson not to keep my comings and goings as big a deal as before.

THE spot where Kim Novak's character in "Vertigo" plunges into the Bay.

THE spot where Kim Novak’s character in “Vertigo” plunges into the Bay.

These days, you’d still see occasional pictures of me on Facebook set in exotic locations, but almost all of them I now try to upload after the fact.

There was a time, out of excitement and, perhaps, pure and simple hubris, when I used to shout out to the rest of the world via Facebook that I was flying to this and that city, and staying for a certain number of days there on assignment.

I never fully reckoned the consequences of my actions until friends from long ago started asking me to meet up with them. I forgot or was unaware that they were now based in the city or region I was going to.

In my desire to be proper, I always return text messages, emails and queries from friends on Facebook and Twitter. Even now. In short, during those days not too long ago, I ended up making time and meeting up with not a few people I originally had no desire of seeing.

Pleasant surprises

Although many unscheduled reunions abroad turned out to be pleasant events, a handful of forced encounters were, to my mind, total waste of time.

I once announced, for instance, on Facebook that I was flying to San Francisco. Barely had I placed a period on my status when a friend from college now based in that city wanted to know my schedule and the possibility of us meeting up.

PEACE, love and a hell of a good time in the City by the Bay.

PEACE, love and a hell of a good time in the City by the Bay.

Despite my fairly packed schedule, I obliged (even buying a pasalubong for him in Manila before boarding the long flight to the West Coast) since he was such a nice chap back then. Because there was really no time for us to meet, I found myself visiting him while he worked manning one of the luxury stores lining Union Square.

Since he was still on duty, the meeting was short and sweet, barely giving me time to hand over my present and posing for pictures with him.

That was that until I learned several seasons later, also on Facebook, that he was flying back to the Philippines to attend to a family matter. Since we both hail from the same town, I sent him a personal message on Facebook asking him how he was.

After receiving an initial response from him, I asked him if he would care to meet up with me for lunch at a nearby mall–my treat. No such meeting happened. Why? I don’t know. You should ask him.

Perhaps, his tight schedule didn’t allow him the luxury of even sparing me an hour. Or probably, the guy, who, if I remember right, just buried his mother, was in no mood to see me. Who knows, perhaps, he was still grieving and, like Greta Garbo, just vanted  to be alone.

Expendable

Whatever his reasons were, I would have totally understood and respected them. But the problem was, he didn’t state one. He simply didn’t reply anymore.

Now, none of this would ever have happened if it weren’t for Facebook. There would have been no expectations on my part because no initial meeting ever occurred, whether along San Francisco Bay or Manila Bay.

But because of Facebook, with plenty of help, of course, from my big mouth, a meeting was set, ties were renewed and expectations were established. And because of Facebook, these very same expectations were dashed.

I really don’t blame the guy. Some people who come into our lives are simply expendable, and, in his world, I happen to be one.  But now, we’re both, so to speak, on equal footing.

The next time I find myself in his neck of the woods, he shouldn’t expect me to make a courtesy call on him anymore. Since I have no more intentions of sharing my flight plan on Facebook, no one, not even envious friends I’m leaving behind in Manila 🙂 , would be any wiser.

 

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