On My Writing

My writing got published on SunStar Weekend last Sunday. It was amusing but also very embarrassing. Do you know how it is with actors who can’t stand watching themselves on screen? How looking at themselves through the eyes of an audience makes them cringe and squirm with discomfort? That is me, but with published work, most especially with very personal pieces that you never really think would go anywhere.

So why publish then? Why go through the ordeal of looking at all the ways your piece has gone wrong, or why this line isn’t working, and suddenly seeing ways to improve a sentence or a point after the fact? Why open yourself up to the world?

It’s probably hubris – a tiny voice in you that dreams a little more than being read by a handful of friends. It’s probably just wanting to write about the painful things and later realizing that these deep, painful things that always felt like yours and yours alone, are part of a bigger, grander pain that are endured by other people too.

Writing has always been therapeutic to me, it has always comforted me and made me feel less lonely. In the process of sharing my experiences with the world, I hope I made other people feel less lonely too.


Election Afterthoughts

The election season (at least most of it) is behind us and it was crazy and draining. This is the first time social media has played a huge role during the campaigns and I fear that the whole messiness was a mere preview of the years to come. Campaign seasons will  become more and more toxic in the coming years. The empowerment that social media has brought will enable people to scream louder, not always with enough forethought to examine what they are screaming about.  I am not looking forward to it.

I have taken refuge in the idea that the elections have helped me filter the people that I like and respect, and those that I don’t. My threshold isn’t even that high – as long as people don’t spread misinformation and don’t get personal, then you’re okay in my book. There are some people who I like and respect but have gone crazy with the campaigning that I couldn’t help but temporarily unfollow them, or at least “see less” from them. I know you love your candidate and Du30, Miriam, Mar, Poe, and (sighs) Binay, are probably inspiring if you pick out their best parts, but I don’t want to be bombarded with their faces all day. I see them everywhere enough as it is – on the walls, on trash bins, in fliers scattered across the roads and pavements, in banderitas, at the back of people’s cars – so please let me have this little slice of peace to myself. Know that I didn’t wish to unfollow you out of spite, but just out of a craving for serenity and quiet.

The elections have also sprung forth new pet peeves and deal breakers:

  • If you rely on Mocha Uson,  Adobo Chronicles, etc., as reliable sources and react so passionately about what they broadcast, then I don’t know how to understand you. I don’t even know where to begin.
  • Wrapping your rudeness with poetic niceties doesn’t make you nice, it makes you annoying.
  • Being passionate about governance and against corruption will not soften the criminal act of evading taxes.
  • Conditional nationalism. Why should I pay taxes when it gets stolen anyway? Why should I throw garbage properly when it never gets collected on time? I will change but only when you change first!

Continue reading “Election Afterthoughts”

Unfollow Wednesday

I’ve weeded out all the noisy political militants off my social media feeds – at first slowly, in trickles, and then quickly, really quickly like flood. They say avoiding engagement is an act of political immaturity. That it’s best, healthy, and wise to engage and even seek other people’s opinions. But what about self-preservation? Zen?

I have always been apolitical. I’ve only registered last year and have never voted. In many ways, engaging at a time where everybody seems to have a say about something – no matter how inane, is the worst time to start being political. So why do it? What was I thinking? When did my political consciousness start? What came first? Facebook or the misery?

Social media has made sharing opinions as easy as opening a window and shouting outside, hoping enough people pass by to hear how wise or funny you are. It’s even less embarrassing and more acceptable to rant in Facebook or Twitter than to actually shout outside. I am guilty of this. I’ve shouted out into that void too. In some ways, this writing is a form of that shouting. So why do I do it?

I’d like to think that I share things because they’re reasonable and right, but everyone thinks they’re right. The high school classmate I’ve unfollowed, without guilt or remorse, for openly supporting BBM thought she was right. Do I want to show people how much more right I am?  Am I enriching people’s lives when I repost memes? Is this how I want to make the world better? Do I even want to? Can I even?

This is giving me a headache.

Logging into Facebook the past few weeks has given me headaches and has kept me up at nights, tossing, turning and rethinking about the meaning of my life. It seems like the most boring way to go – dying while holding my phone, indignant at people who are screaming at each other on a web site. The only thing I’ve gotten from this is a heightened respect for people I already respect and a sense of disbelief and sometimes disgust for people I only mildly cared about. If this is my way of making the world better, I am failing miserably.

So I unfollow people, and then turn towards more achievable goals like spending a part of the weekend picking up trash outside my house, or reading a book and then writing about it. We can always open the window to look at the beautiful summer sunset, and we don’t even have to say anything. Now, my mind is clearer and I feel lighter, as if ridding myself of the social media vitriol allowed me to focus on pieces of the world that I like.

When I log into Facebook and feel my chest tighten with outrage and disbelief, I try to remember that there are many other ways to make the world bearable.  There are many other ways to make the world right again.