Guest Post By Gerson Garcia
With more than half a billion people worldwide converging on Facebook, this social networking giant is indubitably the largest online hub for people doing all sorts of things from playing online games to taking quizzes and rekindling relationships forgotten by time and distance.
It has been only lately that I have become more active on Facebook because of its strong impact on one’s online presence (especially for my blogs) and its power to bridge the distance with friends.
But Facebook is also full of surprises for me lately. Because of the diversity of people and perspectives, this online hub can also easily become an arena for gladiators and their pet ideas.
Many weeks ago, I had my very first Facebook verbal match with someone I don’t know in Facebook; actually on a friend’s page. Yes, I survived the encounter although I rather wished it’s a worthy gladiator I tangled with and not by all indications a bitchy and presumptuous pugilist.
Well, my friend posted his thoughts on about the recent State of the Nation Address of Philippine President Aquino and someone posted a link saying that people should read and visit the article that castigates the SONA speech which my friend by the way finds full of illogical and unfounded accusations. The owner of the page warned the guy that he is once again spamming the page for the nth time.
Being enthusiastic enough, I joined in the fray and commented that as far as I could remember, never have cynics and pessimists built or furthered a society or a nation but had rather the opposite effect; only dreamers move nations and societies forward. The one who posted the link went back and told me to shut up and said that I need to read first another article (and he posted a link again) in order for me to have the “right to speak up.”
And the verbal tussle went on with me saying that no one in his right frame of mind should first impose to another person the thought of reading a commentary in order to have the right or freedom to speak up especially on a democratic society where the plurality of ideas is the cornerstone of such a society; and freedom is an inherent right of everyone. To make the very long story short: the guy got the rare trophy and distinction of being the only second person to be banned from that popular Facebook Page. Sweet revenge.
I am no online war-freak if that is what you think; Facebook I realize can also be a very good tool to help others reconnect especially with close friends you have not talked with for many years.
Past 12 midnight and I got the very rare opportunity of seeing one of my closest friends go online. Ah, green light!
I haven’t talked with this friend for many years.
And he immediately responded: “Hey. Can I talk to you?”
“Of course. What about? Gurlzzz? LOL!”
And then my friend opened up to me. He is into a very difficult situation, so difficult that after the conversation/chat I thought I had lost all my energy. He confided to me, I listened and made him feel I truly understand him.
It was like an online counseling session. I have not helped him solve his problem and issues, but that was not the goal. At the very least I hoped I had done enough to make him feel he is not alone on a journey that continues to leave on scars he could not yet accept.
We ended up signing out at past 3 AM.
Facebook can make or break us; can give you new perspectives and at the same time be a rare channel to give a helping a hand if you are open to the opportunities. But Facebook can also be abused.
Just like a friend who only days ago posted an angry Facebook status update how he discovered most recently that some people he thought were friends had spread lies about his wife on the social networking giant.
It is also a gold mine for discoveries. Just like my mother who sat with me to look at some Facebook friends when she visited me here in Cavite. And lo and behold, we saw some photos of my youngest sister during one drinking spree with friends! Kabam, she then texted my sister who was left in the province and I did not dare speculate what happened next.
Being careful is still the key and being a responsible user is the rule when using Facebook. In a virtual border-less world, sanity, common sense and respect in the midst of opposing views and most oftentimes compromised privacy should still prevail. Unless we still need to seek first the approval of self proclaimed experts or read a stupid article just to have the right to speak up our mind or post status messages on our FB wall.
Off to you now folks. Any memorable encounters on Facebook? Feel free to share them here.
About the Author: Gerson Garcia also known as Elmot writes commentaries on socio-political issues and blogging at Pinoy Sounding Board in his signature breezy, irreverent writing style. He also owns a blog about celebrities in Showbiz Renegade, a must read for me when I’m in dire need of sating my strange appetite for showbiz updates (read: scandals, shenanigans and wardrobe malfunctions). You can also find Gerson holding court in Twitter as @elmot when he’s not mocking politicians and celebrities in his blogs.If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!