I REGAINED my consciousness two hours before midnight and found a different crowd. Still, the spirits have swayed the attendees to imagine intimate friendships – so much for a coffee to gin decision when you haven’t been inebriated for some time. Coffee shops are now a thing in Baguio and La Trinidad, but the old bars in Assumption where we spent our college lives have not lost its charm.
“So who do we believe now?” the younger millennial (or centennial) looked at me like a sage because maybe ten years made the difference on our outlook in life. Believe me, we can sub-categorize millennials further; the ‘Xennials’, or the older millennials who must have breached 35 by now, the “90s kids” like us who had the best childhood, and the “centennials” or the post-millennial generation.
“Definitely not fake news” it hit me that I have spent the last two hours explaining how media works, and how online-trolls become weapons for propaganda – the "like-generating-system" to a web-content which gives the impression that a certain post is popular and therefore publicly-accepted. The teenagers which must have been tailing us for hours, expressed their distrust to the "traditional media," and felt that the alternative/new media is more organic and tells the real stories. If it wasn’t a face-to-face conversation, we would have bashed each other like cyber-trolls do – but, "personal dialogues" will forever humanize us.
From our conversations, I could clearly imagine the alarming extent of social media as part of their lives. Although I do check my facebook a lot, these teenagers confessed of much worse tendencies like; deleting an uploaded photo when nobody hits a "like" button in ten minutes, choosing a boyfriend who has a good camera "so he could take great FB/Instagram perfect shots," and even joining a certain Facebook "Fame" group which assures hundreds of "likes" and can elevate their posts to "viral-status" (because topping their bucket list is to become "vira" someday). That desperate need of social media attention is definitely today’s youngsters’ tragedy.
“Not everything that is viral is true” I repeated. Having a few viral posts in the last two years, I personally knew the feeling of affirmation in having a post that was "liked" by thousands of people. It will be hypocrisy to deny that fleeting euphoria that it gave. But just like most people I know who experienced brief social-media fame, disillusionment often follows. After their popularity, most of them became inactive social-media users. Perhaps just like in real life, we only strive for something that we do not have. We finally lose interest when we finally get what we wish for. Unless, it is part of our jobs. Hopefully not because we are addicted to it.
In this generation measured by buttons and where our value depends on digital thumb-ups, we have to log out more often to protect ourselves from the chaos and stress of the "social media" world. It is likely unlikely that our idea of social-connectivity through social-media does not connect us at all. On the contrary it divides us to binary codes; Dutertards or Dilawan, Liberals or Republicans, Like or Exit, black or white. Stressful indeed.
What we really need now is to get out more often. Be in the moment, away from the sucking whirlpool of this modern digital tradition. Maybe get a coffee, tea, or gin with a good crowd. It is likely that this is what we need this Tuesday. After all, coffee shops are now a thing in Baguio-La Trinidad.