By Yay Padua-Olmedo

It’s fascinating that with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels, folks from all over the globe are able to seamlessly connect wherever and whenever they please.

That wasn’t so in my heyday. That was when we wrote letters―done very sparingly because postage stamps cost a fortune―which reached the other side of the globe in weeks. Or we phoned. But that too was expensive. With my P300 salary (my first pay-check after graduation―should reveal how ancient I am), no way!

If I went on fieldwork, I’d fall off the grid―my boss never knowing if I made lakwatsa (goofed off) or was in fact working.

Thank God for the likes of Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose algorithmic minds have made real time and in-your-face connectedness such a whee-some ride. And at hardly any cost to ordinary people like us!

So today, we no longer search but google information, or tweet them, or FB-post them; plus say “good morning” and “nitey-nite” to nanay, ate or your bestie via Facetime, Viber, Messenger or Skype―all while you’re having breakfast or while you’re preparing to call it a day.

And who’s complaining? How convenient! What a blessing!

People we’ve not seen in ages have suddenly materialized. Class and family reunions are more complete because no matter how far off the grid one is, somebody’s bound to be found.

Our University of Sto. Tomas Education High School class reunion FB page is alive with reports of classmates long lost but now found. You’ve surely heard of high school sweethearts finding each other again, rekindling the fire for another chance at love. Cheesy ba?

But too much of a good thing can also be a curse. It’s not Zuckerberg or Brin’s fault. We still celebrate their algorithmic minds or anyone with a new gadget or app to make life a bit easier, especially for those with limited means or those hindered by age or disease. Technology has levelled the playing field, don’t you think?

Funny and sad scenes: individuals fiddling with their cellphones at dinner time; teeners burning the midnight oil, not because of their assignments, but on their smart phones; and them coming to school with none of their lessons in mind.

We’ve become overly dependent on the net and social media (like an addiction) that we’ve used them as substitutes for genuine social interaction. Doesn’t if feel good to have face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder interaction, with some fist-bumping, back slapping, foot stomping and guffawing besides? I’d feel warm and secure if in the midst of a loss or tragedy, my loved ones and friends came to embrace me or cry with me.

I feel sorry for the US president. The more he goes on Twitter, the more his popularity takes a beating. Because leading is not a matter writing slogans or words with shock effect, or facing TV cameras and shooting off one liners and smart-alecky comments for social media mileage or to fill primetime news.

Managing a nation or our lives is about confronting issues, spending time with people, seeking their feedback and making decisions that build bridges rather break them.

Notice how people have made social media their megaphone for expressing feelings which they could not tell you otherwise in person.

“You are the best thing that ever happened to me. You are my life and my joy! I wouldn’t know how to go on with life if you will not be here by my side.” When I read this, my first impulse was, “I hope he said this too, and more, in person.”

Funny and sad scenes: individuals fiddling with their cellphones at dinner time; teeners burning the midnight oil, not because of their assignments, but on their smart phones; and them coming to school with none of their lessons in mind.

This teacher has seen the quality of students go downhill each year. The internet bug has so inhabited young people’s minds, they’re unable to analyse or even carry on  decent conversations.

Worse, many have taken to social media to curse and cuss others for their perceived inappropriate actions, decisions or words. Filipinos bashing Jeff Horn because he was declared winner over Manny Pacquiao? Shameful, wasn’t it?

With all the negativity and culture of hate―plus the selfie-showiness―displayed every day, many have started to treat social media in a sort of standoffish way.

Thanks, social media, I still love you. But I’ve decided to limit your intrusion, and resolved instead to heed Hebrews 10:24-25:

“… consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Yay believes that her purpose as a Christian is to become salt and light where God has placed her. Aside from teaching Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations at Southville Foreign University in Las Pinas City, Philippines, she conducts motivational and business seminars and write inspirational materials. You can visit her blog at http://nuggetslifeslittlelessons.blogspot.com/

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