What to do on social media
Gabbie Tatad (The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2015 - 10:00am

Today, I was going through my feed, and I spotted at least three different articles that were variations on “What Not To Do On Facebook/Instagram.” The rules are often self-contradictory: don’t use hashtags, don’t post selfies, don’t post anything that’s too personal, don’t post anything too ambiguous, don’t self-promote, don’t humblebrag, don’t post photos that aren’t artsy enough, don’t post photos of animals/food/feet/views/sunsets, stop spreading memes, stop serial fitness posts, leave off your opinions on music/sports/general pop culture, just full stop.

Now, while I am not exactly a bright ray of sunshine in a jar, it makes me wonder (pardon my French here) what the hell is wrong with people and when we all began to have sticks up our asses.

There’s this girl from school — let’s call her Liz — who became a minor Instagram celebrity. Liz moved to the US when we were young, and she grew up into this super trashy hip-hop video girl wannabe. She wears all these tight clothes and has big hair and liquefies all her photos to a point of absolute distortion (and therefore crops them within an inch of their lives). She posts “no makeup” selfies wherein she’s clearly fully made-up, including a generous slathering of highlighter on every possible point on her face. Everyone else I know thinks Liz is horrendous, but I kind of love that she’s this caricature with a huge host of followers who believe that that’s her real body. Liz sincerely gives me joy — not because I enjoy making fun of her (which I admittedly sometimes do; never said I was a saint), but because she’s the total embodiment of the phrase, “You do you.”


On the flip side, there’s this woman I know — let’s call her Honey — who posts ultra-curated photos of her life. She boasts about doing things without any hired help, takes super-staged photos of her children, and makes every single photograph look like it came with your standard picture frame. Honey abides by the rules in these articles: not too much food, always clean, always filtered tastefully, not too hashtagged, and always incredibly, clinically boring. She has hordes of followers, don’t get me wrong, but nothing she shows me lets me know what she’s really about or how she feels about life.

Personally, my life has been all over the Internet for as long as I can remember, what with Livejournal, then Multiply, then the steady stream of Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/what-haveyou. And what makes it fun, as does actual life, is the amount of crazy characters that are out there.

I love knowing that there’s that one mom who will post blog-entry-length captions with each photo as though she’s running out of time with her three-month-old baby. I love that there is that one person who will overshare about everything, including but not limited to nights in with their significant other and their current medical conditions. I love people who post album after album of vacation photos, full of food and people and sights and cheesy sentiments. I love that there is a slew of people who make unbearably ignorant remarks about every possible hot topic (and who kind of make me feel brilliantly educated in the process). I love that one guy who always posts status messages that are meant as patama to someone but no one can figure out who, and they’re cool with that. I want to know who’s into On the Wings of Love and who’s invested in AlDub. I like seeing updates on everyone who’s gotten engaged, been married, and had babies. I love those people who eat right and post 10,000 videos on today’s workouts. I love people’s pets. I love insignificant anecdotes. I love thousands of hashtags that I can search through to find thousands of other equally colorful characters. I love people who caption things with “#thisone.”

Certain Stereotypes

I love that there are certain stereotypes that keep social media spinning, because it’s the variety that makes it worth sorting through to find the real gems. If everyone’s feed was so clean, chic and sophisticated, there’d be no real insight into their lives and what makes their individual existence satisfying.

The reason we get on social media is to connect, to listen, to see what other people are like and how they’re thinking, to know what that meek person does when they’re behind the safety of a screen and a keyboard. Personalities like Beyoncé keep their mystique by keeping to themselves when the rest of their life is in full access. We don’t have that luxury, because most other people want to know that they’re not alone. We want the comfort of knowing that everyone’s a little bit of a disaster, that everyone hates EDSA just a little more each day, and that we’re all doing our best. Because really, who wants to live in a world where everyone is so completely perfect and so politically correct that the marrow of life comes off rather tasteless and dry?

So for all these haters on the common people’s social media, if the posts turn out to be a bit too much, you’re not at gunpoint. You have the freedom to unfollow, unfriend, or at the very least, mute. Sitting here bitching about what everyone else is doing wrong, like someone crowned you King of the Internet, makes you a total online blowhard personality, which, let’s face it, is worse than being a cliché. Leave people be, and unless it’s truly offensive, turn away when it doesn’t suit your comfort. You don’t make the rules, regardless of what online publication allows you to print your elitist, post-hipster agenda (least of all if it’s Elite Daily). You, like so many others, could all stand to be a little more tolerant and a little less sensitive about how other people choose to express their joy, loneliness or fear. Because when what you want is human connection, regardless of whether it’s virtual, the only rule that applies is this: You do you, girl. You do you.

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Tweet the author @gabbietatad.

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