Health And Family


MIDLIFERY - Twink Macaraeg -

I am anti-social media.I never got it. I always thought that friends, by definition, were one’s inner circle.People with whom you shared a history, vocabulary and sworn secrets that would be relayed to no more than two other people.Now, friend is a verb. (I should say, a verb again. Because when I was a kid centuries ago, the worst threat that you could make to anyone who crossed youas in, refuse to lend you her jackstoneswas,Sige, I won’t friend you na!)

Now, friends are two-dimensional avatars that you accumulate for bragging rights, like Pokemon cards. Expanding on that simile, you know how a card carries a line or two about a particular monster’s attributes? That’s about as much as you know about a Facebook friend.Not anything you would have discovered yourself from copying off each other in Algebra, logging 10 thousand hours of anguished conversations about boys who didn’t deserve us or taking turns throwing up Las Conchas zombiesinto a single toilet.

My hubby boasts he’s hit the 5,000 limit of friends that FB allows in less than six months.Given the sheer amount of otherwise productive time he spent on FB during that period, I calculate the friendships he cultivated to have cost our nest egg the equivalent of P231.35 apiece or about P1.16M.

Then there’s the incalculable damage of the toll FB took on his relationships with people who couldn’t be confined within the dimensions of an electronic gadget. That’s why we nearly missed our bunso’s First Holy Communion. That’s why he was absent from the last four of our weekly Pictionary games. That’s why he may just as well as have been absent from the holiday family reunions because it took at least three jokes at his expense for anyone to get his attention, whereupon he would look up from tapping on his smartphone, and say “Hmmm? Wha-at?”

Poy, mistaking my disaffection to stem from worries that FB would be used to arrange illicit hook-ups (the cause of a few marriage disintegrations that we all know of) gave me free access to his account.What I found only amplified my concerns. Sure, there were many names I recognizedPoy’s fellow scholars and advocates (as opposed to “enthusiasts”) with whom a genuinely fruitful discourse emanated. But the rest were sycophants, publicists of weird products and events, and out-of-school youths of all ages, uniformly syntax delinquent and tone-deaf to the nuances of irony. Would Poy ever have them over to the house to eat leftovers from his office party?Would he offer any of them a toke from our jealously-guarded stash? Would we sit through any of their PowerPoint presentations of their latest family vacation?

“Who are Xtian Abaniconiloloh,GG Shazaam, and Jose Rizal Lynchpin?” I challenged. “What do you mean you don’t know?! THEY’RE YOUR FRIEEEEENDS!!!”I hollered after his retreating figure. Like most men, Poy runs from confrontations that have the remotest potential of turning into fights they haven’t a hope in hell of winning.

“Isn’t knowing who your friends are supposed to be one of life’s great epiphanies?Moguls and heiresses have gone to their graves ruing that they never found out, while dictators always say that learning that lesson made the whole experience of getting deposed worthwhile.”

I’m venting my frustrations on someone we brought in to mediate.Dang is a mutual friend because she’s among Poy’s 5,000 virtual buddies,while she and I know each other as cofounders of a non-governmentalcoven called The Anti-Kris.She’s also a social media butterfly, flitting from app to app with ease, yet never failing to respond to traditional telephone calls .

“Twink, your problem is that you’re clinging to a concept of friendship as defined by Hallmark.” She then launches into an uncanny rendition of the heart-tugging commercial jingle of my youth, “For no one throws a Hallmark card awe-eey ... coz no one throws awe-hey... A memoree-ee.”

Dang does such a good job of channeling Richard Tan that, indeed, memories of the jingle’s warbler flood my mind, in reverse chronology from his untimely death, to when he added another N to his surname, to when he was that chunky-but-still-sexy-baritone from the Circus Band.I was just about to burst forth with my Pabs Dadivas version of Who Can I Turn To when Dang interrupts, now in full Dr. Phil mode, “My point is that even Hallmark’s biggest business isn’t even in greeting cards anymore.Accept that the world’s changed. Social networking isn’t about building friendships. It’s about building up your brand.”

“My brand?My brand of what? Toothpaste? Off-color humor?Don’t talk about brand to me, Dang.I’m so cheap, I wouldn’t buy perfume unless it were eau de generic.”

To Dang’s credit, she doesn’t roll her eyes, turning her attention instead to Poy. “You, set up some ground rules, for God’s sake! The number of hours you spend on FB per week should not exceed your ideal BMI!No FB unless you’re fully clothed!Don’t let FB keep you from playing catch with your son! Don’t let FB be the one communication link with your other son! And, most of all, don’t let FB interfere with your sex life, because you know that’s what your wife’s beef really is, don’t you?”

And before Dang flew off to another social media engagement, she left us with these bits of advice which she couldn’t possibly have made up on the spot, “Twink, it’s time you Facebook-ed.Poy, time your Facebook. And both of you: Book your Facetime!

I took Poy’s sheepish look as a minor triumph, while the makeup sex that followed marked a more substantial one.

Afterwards, Poy did make discernible changes.He helps Chocho practice for his baseball games and tries to elicit more than a few sentences from the non-verbal Jammy at the dinner table.He also actively feigns an interest in what my Book Club is reading and sits at the computer only after everyone has fallen asleep.

In turn, to better understand this new world of which Poy is such an upstanding citizen I, finally, opened a Facebook account. It runs smack into all my natural inclinations. but I would do as much for a friend. It’s certainly the least I would do for a lover.

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