Day 26 – There are no bad places, there are just bad people

Some months ago, I wrote about the benefits and the downsides brought about by Twitter.  My opinion remains the same, Twitter is a powerful and useful communication platform. However, the great opportunity Twitter offers unfortunately also provides a way for irresponsible users to misuse and abuse it. At the end of the day, the users are still the culprits.

Aside from Twitter, we don’t need to underscore the next most important social communication platform. Love him or hate him, but thanks to Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook.

I am a self-confessed Facebook addict too. But believe it or not, I got hooked to Facebook by some accident in the workplace. Friendster used to be my main social networking site. Like a typical Pinoy Friendster addict, I couldn’t last a day without checking my account. But after some time, Friendster was banned in the workplace. On those days when I am recuperating from the absence of Friendster,  my best friend in the workplace asked me if I have a Facebook account.  I told her I think I have a dormant Facebook account.  I remember signing up because a relative from Canada invited me.  To entertain ourselves with the loss of Friendster, I activated my sleeping Facebook account and that started my new social networking life.

My initial Facebook contacts were comprised of colleagues turned friends and later on expanded to long lost friends from elementary to college days, cousins who are miles away, students, and later on relatives. The ironic thing about some of my relatives is that I rarely see them despite the fact that we live in the same small city. Thanks to Facebook because I can catch up with them.

I have to emphasize my “relatives” because they prompted me to write this entry.

Days ago, my cousin asked me if I have been following the status messages of another cousin. I told her I wasn’t checking my Facebook account lately because I’m still adjusting to my 7 am schedule. Facebook was likewise banned in the workplace and its only at home where I can access my account.  Later on, I learned that a “cousin” has been ranting another “family of relatives” through a series of status messages. “Cousin” was apparently making the Filipino “non-confrontational confrontation” approach (parinig) or insinuating a particular person.

To be honest, this was not the first time my relatives were involved in this kind confrontation. My clan does not exhibit a family picture of peace and happiness. Sadly, I have seen some of them backstab, meddle and render that classic “plastic” (pretending to be nice) behavior. Worst is that they have extended their showcase of negative attitude to the cyberspace. They fail to realize that they are giving their hundreds of followers or even their innocent kids the opportunity to learn the negative side of the family. Yes even kids as young as seven years old have Facebook accounts in my family. The kids can navigate Facebook and the internet on their own. I have observed how a pc with an internet connection has become the easiest means to let kids behave and stay at home.  And if I were to be asked, I am not amenable to this practice.

I’m not saying the children should be spared from using the computer and internet. I’d rather see them using the computer as a mechanism to enrich their knowledge and once in a while, a means for decent recreation.

People have raised their opinions on the existence of Facebook and other social networking sites. Some dismayed and sworn to never buy the idea of having a Facebook account. While some or should I say most of us have embraced Facebook in our lives. We have considered Facebook a significant part of us.  Every milestone and significant occasion in our family, friends, career have an album that compiles those pictures. New places, new ventures, everything is documented in those photo albums. Birthday greetings, special messages to gossips, and the chat feature which enables us to reach friends to family members who are miles away. Even the business sector have benefited from Facebook. The Fan pages enable companies to launch products, host a giveaway or to some extent determine the feedback of their customers. Facebook’s good use is infinite. I’m sure the benefits that Facebook bring will continuously expand over time.

If there are beneficial effects, Facebook also has its own downsides. Unfortunately it became a means for people to do nasty things to punishable crimes.  Identity theft, bullying, quarreling, ranting, insinuating a person (parinig), creating blind items to point out an annoying person, showing off material possessions and experiences, and more commonly, a medium to burst out emotions, which became a hobby of my relatives and some of my contacts.

Identity theft through the cyberspace, I have heard stories of friends whose pictures were used to form fake Facebook accounts and worst were uploaded to malicious sites.

Bullying and quarreling is a common trend of status messages. In a week or even a day, I bet my Facebook wall will have one. “Nagmamaganda kasi,” (a figurative expression that pertains to females who keep on meddling and projecting the i-know-it-all image), this expression has been a common content of my Facebook wall. At some point, I felt that this was one of the reasons why Facebook was banned in the workplace.

Making “parinig” or to insinuate a person is another common trend of status messages. I see this as a coping mechanism or a means for people to burst out their annoyance to anger to a certain person. People who constantly make parinig are implusive or sometimes dressed brave, but deep inside they are scared of confrontations. They love to quarrel the hidden and safe way. And I will not pretend not to be one. When I just can’t handle an emotional outrage to a certain person, I used to release it through my share of 420 characters. But after some time, I often find myself regretting and later on erasing an outraged status message. The hard headed person in me realized that making “parinig” does not after all resolve the issue. It sometimes even worsen the problem. To some extent, I am also promoting myself to become the center of gossips.

My opinion remains the same, Facebook is only a platform or a medium of communication. A platform only serves its purpose to transmit information. It has no capacity to create evil and nasty things on its own.  Some external forces should be present to convert  it to an evil and nasty place. There are no bad places, there are just bad people.

If my Facebook wall is flooded with the rants, gossips, blind items, and unnecessary posts, can I blame Facebook? Facebook only transmits the feed of information. Who supplies the feeds anyway?

I was wrong with Twitter

I’m still new to Twitter. I opened a Twitter account for the sake of fulfilling my curious instincts. I remember my friend Anne telling me that a lot of people have been asking for her Twitter account. In one idle and boring work day, I decided to sign up and explore Twitter. At that time, I never had the idea of what will I get out of it.

My initial impression to Twitter was it’s a mere platform where you could throw those status messages like in Facebook. It is nothing but an account that showcases you and your followers’ status messages. I even ended up comparing Twitter to Facebook. My initial opinion was Twitter is an unnecessary account. Why open a Twitter account when you have a Facebook account that enables you experience more than posting status messages? Hence, I ended up maintaining a dormant Twitter account.

Twitter is limited to one function. However, I failed to foresee and realize that the lone service Twitter provides would later on become one of the most powerful communication tools in my country and even the rest of the world. I was blinded by my criticism over Twitter’s singular function. In effect, I failed to realize its after effects; the benefits and its impacts to the community.

Gradually, I started to hear celebrities, journalists, and different organizations announcing their Twitter accounts and requesting people to follow them. Again, out of curiosity, my Twitter account became active when I started following people and organizations that interest me. I followed the official accounts of Paolo Coelho, Nicholas Sparks (whom I learned that even his unpublished works are beginning to have movie tie ups already), and Harvard Research.

Later on, I realized that Twitter does not only provide me an opportunity to type and announce my status messages. I failed to see that Twitter will keep me informed of the daily activities of people that interest me. Twitter in one way or another enabled fans like me to be informed of the activities, thoughts and the life of the people we admire. Twitter broke that impossible dream of fans to reach and communicate with the people they look up to.

Twitter also gives my daily dose of fast updated news from both the local and international level. I am easily informed of the happenings even without a TV or a radio. Remember that bloody hostage taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand? Twitter kept me updated even though I was stuck in the office. The winning of Venus Raj in the Miss Universe pageant! I easily learned the news just because I was following other people watching it. How about Manny Pacquiao’s victory? The people I followed at Twitter gave me almost live feed on the progress of the game.

On the downside, it can’t be denied that Twitter also served as a means to inflict harm to other people and even to destroying our own reputation. Remember the incident that involved Mai Mislang? She used to be a silent presidential staff. However, she became one of the most hated personalities because of just tweeting harsh things against Vietnam. How about the controversial tweets of Cristine Reyes against Sarah Geronimo? Cristine gave the entire Philippines a feast of gossips and intrigues. But I think in such situations mentioned, the users are the one to blame. Twitter’s main responsibility is to provide a platform. It’s already the responsibility of the user on how he will be able to maximize the benefit of the technology.

Twitter’s real downside is attributed on those situations when their system overloads and crashes as a result of too many users. Have you encountered anything from these,

I will never forget this whale. Seeing this message adds up to my daily small doses of irritation. I can’t send my tweets unless the birds are able to transport that gigantic creature.

And also this robocat? This cute figure also brings in some cute annoyance which when accumulates would agitate you.

To give an avenue for self-expression through a limited number of characters is basically the function of Twitter. However, its one function provided different impacts to the community For companies, Twitter is now used as a reliable feedback mechanism. I find companies announcing the schedule of their sale, promos and answering customer complaints. Fully Booked and National Bookstore Philippines best exemplify such traits.

Different businesses in the form of web and software applications also emerged out of Twitter. TweetDeck, Hootsuite. Twitteriffic, UberTwitter are some of the alternative sites which Twitterers could use  apart from Twitter’s own webpage. During those times when Twitter’s main site was bugging, I was one of the many people who resorted in these applications.  

As contained in their homepage, Twitter is the best way to discover what’s new in your world. True enough, Twitter is just a 60 character medium that provides access to a universe of lives to every single individual that enters it.