WHAT a difference a couple of days make. Almost overnight, Filipinos are now thinking twice before posting selfies, photos of their latest gadgets and holidays as well as so-called food porn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Instead, in the wake of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), majority now post and repost relief efforts, fundraising campaigns, news updates, opinion pieces and harrowing stories and photos generated by the biggest and deadliest cataclysm to struck this disaster-prone country in recent memory. A few who dare insist to swim against the tide by going about their merry little ways risk being branded as insensitive, immature and showoffs by the very friends who probably once tried to outdo them in the fabulousness department.
I’ve even come across status updates on Facebook from these two opposing camps. Majority have managed to show a semblance of civility by making patama (allusions) instead of responding directly. Some have simply chosen to ignore the offending party. But a few have become quite vocal about what they feel and where they stand.
Just the other day, I came across this status from a friend who loves to post stuff on fashion and beauty contests: “Facebook is a social media page. Nobody can dictate to anyone not to post something cheerful. It doesn’t mean I’m not sensitive to natural calamity that occurred recently. Mag donate ka na lang in a quiet way, makakatulong ka pa. (It’s better if you just donate without fanfare to be of help.) Or better [yet], make your own posting at ‘wag mo ako pakilaman (and leave me alone). This is for you aging laos (has-been) designer”
This is probably as direct as one can get without mentioning names. By going ballistic, the fellow drew all sorts of reactions from friends. Most of them were sympathetic, while some, of course, wanted to know the identity of the has-been designer. But one reaction from our mutual friend managed to tickle my funny bones: “Who’s the has-been you’re referring to? I’m pretty sure it’s not my boyfriend because he’s still hot and a sought-after designer.”
Since typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas a day before the Miss Universe beauty contest in Moscow, I assume my agitated friend was chastised, rightly or wrongly, by his online nemesis for posting beau con-related news, particularly about Miss Philippines Ariella Arida.
A few days later, I came across a different post from another person. I have no reason to believe that my beau con-addict friend and this outspoken and intelligent woman know each other. Below was her status: “I can’t help it: Hiding posts from FB friends who talk about their amazing trip, fantastic night, new gadget/makeup/bag, or this super awesome dish you want us to try. I’m not judging. I really just don’t want to see that right now.”
I understood where she was coming from, but at the same time I couldn’t resist sharing my thoughts on her wall: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned while interacting in social media, people, even those you consider your friends, have different mindsets, priorities and maturity levels. Let them selfie all they want. Just ignore them and ‘like’ and comment on posts you find compelling. 🙂 Hayaan mo na lang sila. (Let them be.)”
She seemed to have taken my comment well. A friend of ours in the same thread also came up with this practical nugget of wisdom: “I understand your sentiments, but in defense of people who post such [stuff], it doesn’t mean that they are not helping in their own way–posting such and helping are not mutually exclusive, right?”
This same woman earlier quoted another friend on her wall: “‘No one has any idea what anyone else is doing outside of FB, Twitter and IG. Just because people don’t post about their efforts/donations doesn’t mean they’re not helping, and vice versa.’–Just help. Just do it.”
I couldn’t have said it better. I wanted to further weigh in to keep the conversation going, but I decided against it. If there’s one thing I learned from my beau con-addict friend, it’s this: I have my own wall and this blog to fully articulate my thoughts and ventilate my feelings.
I wanted to tell my other friend (the one who loathes seemingly frivolous postings at a time like this) that some do-gooders are also committing the equivalent of selfies when they help and make donations. Instead of doing it quietly, they make a big deal out of it. Some of my other friends defended such actions as a way for donors to put pressure on recipients (read: government) to be more accountable and transparent in their dealings.
Now, that’s in bad taste
After all, at the end of the day, it’s the government, both national and local, who gets to mobilize and spend a lion’s share of these donations regardless of their sources. Well, my friends have a point. What I can’t understand is why certain public figures find the need to tweet about their personal donations, including the actual amounts and their intended recipients. Now, that to me, is in bad taste.
Stranger still are certain individuals who trumpet the donations made by certain companies and groups they don’t officially belong to. I would have understood if they were in-house publicists and PR consultants of these companies, but, as far as I know, they’re not. The fact that they aren’t makes their tweeting and shoutouts all the more suspect.
This prompted me to ask this question on Facebook: “Which is more scandalous and in bad taste, posting a selfie and an appetizing dish, or announcing to the world the amount, both in cash and in kind, you or your pet company is about to donate? The jury is still out.”
The status drew all sorts of reactions from friends for and against this and that. Again, it took my friend (the woman who said that posting seemingly frivolous stuff and helping aren’t mutually exclusive) to end the conversation: “Remember na lang Alex that the money [regardless of the donors’ intentions–AYV] makes a difference– too much selfies are in bad taste, tragedy or not.”