As I was going through my Facebook notifications earlier today, I stumbled upon a post from Filipinos AroundTheWorld that, much to my surprise (…lol), basically says that Filipinos rule the internet world and, more specifically, that Filipinos use Facebook more than any other group.
I briefly went through the comment section and, after reading a few comments that say things along the lines of “yes, I am proud to be Filipino” or “such a good way to connect big families and friends”, I came across a comment (followed by few others that convey the same message) that raises the question: “is that something to be proud of?”.
Because I speak Tagalog and Rome is full of Filipinos (you can find them at every bus stop or in any subway station), I like to approach them and strike up a conversation in Tagalog but, more often than not, they either completely ignore me or they just don’t get that I am talking to them in their own language because they are too busy checking their notifications and they walk away not even watching their step because their eyes are fixed on the screen of their gadget.
I got to know my wife back in the early 2000’s and, immediately after my relationship began, I also started associating with Filipinos who are part of the vast Filipino community of Rome.
One of the things that caught my attention is that they appeared to be way more technologically literate than most Italians.
Although back then there was no such thing as modern smart phones, there were already handheld computers that could be connected to a cell phone via infrared and, slightly later, via bluetooth.
The first time I saw an electronic organizer or a handheld computer was through Filipinos who were among the first people in Italy to have those kinds of gadgets that very few people in my country knew about.
In my conversations with them there was one word that was constantly on their mouths and that word was “Friendster”.
I had no idea what the heck that thing was all about and whenever I asked for clarifications they would say that Friendster was a social network. I had no idea what a social network was.
So, long before Facebook appeared here in Italy, and when social networks were still completely foreign to me and to most Italians, Filipinos expatriates who lived in Italy were already abreast with the social media culture that was getting started.
And today Filipinos rank as the country that has the most Facebook users.
Is that something to be proud of?
There is a nice Pinoy song entitled “Himig ng Pag-ibig” that has this nice line: “bawat sandali ay mahalaga” (“every instant is precious”). Most people, not just Filipinos, who are Facebook junkies (like someone in the comment section of the Facebook post I mentioned above who prides himself for being on fb 18 hours a day) just don’t realize how many things could be accomplished in few “sandali“, like, for instance, making progress with the language of the country where Pinoy expatriates work and that, by the way, is also the native language of their children.
It took me about a couple of years to become fluent in Tagalog by only spending 5-10 minutes a day (and only rarely longer periods, as I didn’t have the luxury to devote more time to this undertaking). I am not saying it to brag, I am just making a point and the point is that bawat sandali is mahalaga indeed given the countless productive things one could be doing by cutting back on excessive and, often thrivial, use of social media to buy out few extra sandali
“Bawat sandali ay mahalaga” also to give one’s spouse the gift of undivided attention.
“Bawat sandali ay mahalaga” to exercise a little bit, to read a book, pray, meditate, blog or to do anything else that can improve the quality of one’s life.
So, do you really think that being the country with the most social media users is something to be proud of?