Weekly Ketchup 47 - Social Media, Social Issues

To say that this past week has been unremarkable can really mean it's about any number of things as far as I'm concerned. How I'm grateful for my latest finished writing gig. How I've been playing the same level on Heroes Chronicles because I keep losing. How I'm frustrated with Zenonia because of repetitive gameplay. How I just caught up with three weeks' worth of shows. How I never have anything on-hand to wear to weddings and so I had to shop for new stuff for a couple of weddings I have to attend in the coming weeks and how incredibly hard it is to find stuff that fits my shape and budget. How my skin, hair, and body are totally whacked. How my dog now barks at me. Or how I'm totally digging this YouTube channel.

Here's the thing: Not only are all of these mundane things old news in this blog (except for the wedding get-up thing but anyone who's ever known me knows I'm not big on formal wear) but they're all incredibly self-serving. This blog has been a bible of "me" things since I started and that's by design. Sure, I've discussed my opinions about certain issues every now and then but, for the most part, I've always just talked about my own experiences, which is what I set out to do to begin with so I won't fault this space for that.

I do, however, feel that, as a person, I couldn't be more rotten. I recognize that I'm self-serving and self-involved but then again I'm also self-motivated, so I guess there's a balance to it... maybe... kinda...?
The thing is: I've also long considered myself charitable even if I really can't afford to be generous, so I always try to give whatever I have extra of - whether it be time, money, or clothes - to relief efforts (Ondoy and Yolanda come to mind). In my admittedly skewed view of the world, I'm already privileged and excessive (that I can afford to get into geek stuff and pursue jobs in non-essential industries is already proof enough of that) so I try as much as I can to really give forward. I'm also the kind of person who feels guilty about seeing a homeless child or elderly on the way home after having just bought a P200 shirt on a whim.

The reason I bring this up isn't to brag about my sensitivity to social injustice (though I wouldn't be humble about it either, if the situation called for it) but I do need to paint a picture of the stuff that goes on in my head to illustrate a point: That it isn't enough.

While I've never endeavored or internalized being an activist or advocate (yes, there's a difference) for any cause, I've always thought that I would be doing something important. I never set out to be the savior of the world. I've just always thought I would be part of something that will. That's probably why I was never drawn to Superman or his all-star team but was heavily invested in the Avengers. The idea of a team of second-tier small-fries playing in the big league appealed more to my sensibilities.

Yet here I am: Obsessed with my own growth. My own legacy. My projects. My goals. My stories. Where is the team I'm supposed to be avenging with?

Now, here's why I brought this up: For some inexplicable reason, I was beginning to get bored with social media this past week. Like I'm somehow just going through the motion and routine of checking my updates but not really invested in the experience as much as I used to be.

Then the following things happened:
Barack Obama just announced amnesty for undocumented immigrants, which gives hope for Jose Antonio Vargas (I already shared my thoughts on him and his advocacy in a previous blog) - something I care a little too much for when I'm not even remotely affected;
It's also the fifth anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre, which I realize is a horrible event by itself - the delayed justice even more so - but I honestly don't care as much as I should about it (please don't hate me, I'm sorry);
But what got me really thinking about how removed I am from being conscious about social issues is a surprising new follower on Instagram and Twitter: Fil-Am activist Kalayaan Mendoza. It's ridiculous and twisted that it took this one small thing to realize that what I've been posting as funny or thoughtful on my social media feed is utter garbage compared to what many others are using the platform for.

The logical denouement for such a realization is to use social media to benefit social issues. However, I am also aware that "slacktivism" is a thing and I want no part of that either. So where does that leave me?

Not for the first time, I thought about leaving everything behind and joining some underground movement and take the fight out of the virtual world. Anything just  to step out of myself. Maybe join an NGO or Green Peace. But I just don't have it in me. I'm too self-involved but also insecure about my own abilities that I'd likely end up a liability instead.

It's at this point that I remembered something my father once told me: "Before you help other people, you must help yourself". As an arrogantly passionate teenager with delusions of grandeur about making an impact in the world. I thought the idea perplexing, absurd, and even insensitive. I'm beginning to think that maybe he's right and maybe that's where I am in this part of my life. Maybe only once I'm perfectly fine with myself can I heed the call to assemble.

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