I don’t understand when all this talk of work-life balance started,” my friend’s employer told her — nay, berated her — one particularly crummy office day. “In my time, we just worked and then we lived and that was that.” (Note to self: Don’t use “work-life balance” when filing for leaves.)
In today’s hierarchy of needs, where essentials like nourishment and information are so readily available to the young professional, the new lad mag of intellectual masturbation is self-enlightenment: “Am I making a difference in the world? What kind of person am I becoming? Do I like the person I’m becoming?” It’s a convoluted series of me-me-me questioning that was probably triggered by a me-me-me line of thinking in the first place. With on-the-go Internet and our now fully-grown third arm mutation we call “social media,” we’re so plugged in the problem is often the feeling of being too plugged in. After all, how does one feel enlightened when your social circle’s worst traits — self-promotion, peacock-ing, “the humble brag,” affectedness — are in your face 24/7?
Let me illustrate. You know that friend who you’ve always maintained is a great person and is someone you like despite the occasional unfunny, sometimes offensive jokes? Well, imagine those jokes encroaching on your life every few hours, an occasional reminder of that one thing you find detestable about that person. It’s called Twitter.
When my editor asked me to do a list of 26 people worth following on social media, I quickly realized that it wouldn’t be possible to do a definitive list of that sort. Social media’s draw has always been the ability to make it our own. Unlike mainstream media like newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio, no powers-that-be control your consumption. You curate your own media by picking who you “Follow” or “Add.” And yet, it’s all we whine about.
“Person A is so annoying on Twitter. All he does is humble-brag his projects!”
“No, Person B is worse! She keeps pimping out her sponsors. Yo, we know how much you’re getting paid per tweet, okay?”
“Ugh, Person C’s no better. She actually thinks retweeting the praises her fans tell her is entertaining to anyone else but herself.”
Recently, I was thinking, whoa, Einstein moment, if we don’t really want to follow these people, why not “Unfollow” them? No matter if they’re good friends or not. Wasn’t social media’s whole point customization and curation? Unfollowing doesn’t necessarily mean “I don’t want to be friends.” Sometimes, unfollowing means “I’d like to be friends but I know following you and seeing your dumb jokes 24/7 is going to make me hate you.” Consider it a way to save friendships.
So as Mary Poppins once said, be firm but kind. Unfollow whoever keeps ruining your day. Come up with a social media diet that nourishes as well as excites, that is as fun as it is expansive. These tweets, blog entries, and Instagrams are essentially little windows to people’s interior lives. It’s basically “boso” but hey, make sure you’re peering into the right window at least. After all, you are who you follow.
Here are 26 people I personally think contribute well to my social media diet. To me, at least, they’re the ideal mix of relevance and irreverence, of style and substance.
• Nothing Spaces (www.nothingspaces.com)
An artist, designer, writer, and teacher, Carina Santos blogs about the creative life on Nothing Spaces. From a play-by-play of the process of creating art to coverage of the local art scene, she takes us in to a world where the slow burn gets the worm and whispers are often tantamount to screams.
• Pelikula (pelikula.tumblr.com)/
We Talk About Movies (wetalkaboutmovies.com)
What if you had a group of hyper-articulate friends who spent all their time talking about movies? Dawson’s Creek aside, the answers: Pelikula and We Talk About Movies.
• The Yellow Adventures
Like National Geographic in blog form, 21-year-old photojournalist Hannah Reyes (who was actually contributed to National Geographic) goes from place to place taking photos and documenting the way people live. From tribes in far-off mountains to cute surfers in bikinis, Hannah’s curious eye never fails to capture the spirit of its subjects.
• Other Joseph (otherjoseph.livejournal.com)
Joseph Pascual, a young photographer, has a way of turning the everyday and mundane into beautiful photo essays — and he blogs all of them on Other Joseph. While he’s recently found himself uploading editorial work instead of the photo essays he built his blog on, the occasional photo essay is more than worth it.
• Pepper.ph (pepper.ph)
What if French onion soup tried to become a sandwich? That’s the kind of gastronomic question the team over at Pepper.ph try to answer. This is the grown-up version of the kitchen experiments you used to do as a kid — except with excellent food photography and actual culinary prowess.
• Kitkat Pecson (kitkatpecson.com/blog)
It would’ve been enough if Kitkat Pecon’s blog just consisted of her portfolio. A talented designer and illustrator, Kitkat’s work is pure eye candy. The entries about her trips to Egypt and Athens only help of course — a marriage of Old World beauty and contemporary design.
• Recovery.ph (recovery.ph)
Hipper than your college literature professor, better looking than your dusty library books, Recovery.ph is a project that aims to encourage the patronage of forgotten Filipino classics. And while that might not sound exciting to a kid overdosing on Noli, the site finds a way of presenting it in an accessible manner.
• Ava and Jess (jessandava.blogspot.com)
While most people in the periphery of fame often guard their social networks with dear life, lest they can find a way to hit it big themselves, Ava Daza and Jess Wilson (younger sisters of Isabelle Daza and Georgina Wilson, respectively) don’t really give a damn. With a healthy dose of irreverence and a humorous sensibility about fame, the cousins give the unvarnished truth on life in the spotlight.
• Quiet Girl (quietgirl.net)
What happens to that quiet girl in the corner of the classroom when she grows up? Evidently, she paints herself her own world to live in. Artist Valerie Chua creates a world where subtlety is king and a glass of purple potato latte saves the day.
• Negavibes (negavibes.wordpress.com)
This is a take on Philippine culture from an outsider’s perspective. Growing up around the world, the half-Italian Em Natola finds the amazing in the absurd and mines it to often amusing effect.
• Fake Marian Rivera as @superstarmarian
With almost 80,000 followers, the fake Marian Rivera account is undoubtedly the local parody account with the most clout. A caricature of the actress Marian Rivera’s public persona — barok English, confrontational nature, and so on — this account mines humor from the public’s perception of the way the real superstar would react to things.
“It’s funny because every time a hot issue explodes whether in politics or showbiz, they would always wonder and wait for what @superstarmarian has to say,” the creator of the account explains. “Not that they take her opinions seriously. I guess they just want to laugh and have fun, and have an alternative view of what’s happening in the country.” The followers of @superstarmarian? “Journalists, actors, professionals from top corporations and even teachers and students from top schools.”
• Fake Amando Doronila as @AmandoDoronila
This parody account of the esteemed journalist works because of its frequently absurd tweets. The real Doronila would never say these and that’s the best part. For example: “The Dark Knight Rises is what happens when Jojo Binay takes Viagra.” This is political commentary at its most inappropriate and strangely, most digestible.
• Katrina Stuart Santiago as @radikalchick
As a blogger and writer for GMA News Online, she frequently lambasts institutions and creates uproars over perceived slights. And you might not always agree with her. Sometimes, you think she nailed it. Sometimes, you think she’s going too far. But Katrina Stuart Santiago’s voice is an important one in contemporary discourse. Everything you’re afraid to talk about, everything you won’t dare object to, she will. She’s not lying. This lady is a bit of a radical.
• Ayee Macaraig as @ayeemacaraig
As part of social news network Rappler, Ayee gets a front-row seat at Philippine history. From impeachment hearings to Senator Miriam Santiago’s quotable quotes, you get a first person account with some good ole journalistic backbone for good measure.
• Bianca Gonzalez as @iamsuperbianca
While her 1.6 million following kind of excludes her from the “people you might not be following (yet)” prerequisite, you still need some showbiz razzle-dazzle to make sure you have a balanced social media diet. And if you’re going to follow an artista, make it the kind of artista who has an opinion, live-tweets basketball games, and keeps product plugs to a minimum.
• Sarah Meier as @sarah_meier
Sarah Meier is a bit of a ‘90s girl. Of course, her stint at MTV during the decade is a big factor but it could also be her crazy, sexy, cool social media persona. On Twitter, she’s like that cool older cousin who turned you on to hip-hop and sneaked you a beer every time your mom wasn’t looking. She finds a way to be empowering without being patronizing, positive without the Hallmark trappings.
• Idris Vicuna as @eyedress
As vocalist and guitarist for indie band Bee Eyes, purveyor of the hipster harana, Idris throws out riffs that are sharp as they are transcendent. “Sharp” might be a good word to describe his tweets too. While they sometimes feel like lines from upcoming songs, he has a habit of deconstructing platitudes in a way that makes him sound both profound and profoundly stoned — always a good thing.
• Marga Buenaventura as @margabee
If Bridget Jones came back as a 21-year-old girl from Manila grappling with lack of employment options, she’d be Marga Buenaventura, a regular contributor to The Philippine STAR’s Young Star section and a witty, neurotic presence on Twitter. The things she talks about are pretty typical, but what sets the tweets apart is a strong writing voice and just the right amount of crazy.
• Paolo Lorenzana as @paolorenzana
A Philippine STAR columnist who just got himself a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, Paolo Lorenzana’s Twitter is often like a male version of HBO’s Girls. When he’s not ranting about the difficulty of finding a job in New York, he’s spewing politically incorrect but oh-so-truthful commentary on everything from pop culture to the local social scene.
• Young Star as @YoungStarPhils
Because you need your weekly fill of youth and their passions minus the bull. No bias. (Okay, maybe a little bit.)
• Everywhere We Shoot as @EWWS
A staple presence at exhibits, launches, and gigs, you can count on photography-and-design duo Ryan Vegara and Garvos for fashion and art world coverage.
• Mano Lotho as @willkhitie
Everybody takes photos of the food they eat, but this guy elevates food porn into an art. If Wes Anderson characters ever got on Instagram, this is how their food shots would look like.
• An Estrada as @tracianne
“Alexa Chung of the Philippines?” my sister once wondered aloud while looking through her Instagram. As one one-half of photography duo Your Evil Twin, An’s Instagram is an interesting mix of analog photography and skater culture.
• Pam Quinones as @pamquinones
Looking through this top stylist’s Instagram is like peering into the interior life of an I Am Love character, albeit with the occasional artista cameo and a lot of skin. While she’s always been low-key, her Instagram gives an interesting peek into her life, from styling top clients to soaking in fashion history in Europe to, well, riding camels.
• Daryl Chang as @darylchang
Fashion on social media isn’t all about outfit photos — at least not when Preview’s fashion editor is concerned. Instead of out-and-out outfit photos, we get little snippets from a life in fashion.
• Leeroy New as @NewLeeroy
Get a peek into the acclaimed sculptor’s artistic process through the occasional under-construction project photo or glimpses of previous work. While he rarely says more, who needs words when the art’s this good?
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Comments, suggestions, violent reactions? Twitter: @raymondangas.