Being physically away from family and friends has awakened me to the utter convenience of technology. My Globe plan may have died several weeks ago but I charge my phone battery about three times a day for it to keep me connected to home via Facebook, Facetime, Twitter, Instagram etc. Unfortunately, as my OFW days went by, my accounts have accumulated a disturbing amount of, hmm, unpleasant sights. I always struggle to accurately describe what I see online, more so how they make me feel about my generation, because I find most of them hard to understand. I’m not sure if the modern culture of social networking blurs the human capacity to decide on the extent of transparency they can project. Obviously the real self differs greatly from the online self and it’s none of my freaking business how people want to publicize themselves but constant collages of exorbitant meals, provocative selfies with the mandatory cleavage flaunting, excessive and inappropriate declarations of personal information, and many other forms of attention-screaming online behavior genuinely baffle me. They make me feel lost in my own age range and urge me to question concepts of social etiquette, professionalism and common sense. It helps that these sites include an unfollow feature but the fact of the matter remains – I don’t get it.
It’s not you (internet), it’s me. Probably. Maybe I just wasn’t raised to be… cute. And/or mainstream. This is why when I learned about my family from the northwest driving down south, I knew that their visit couldn’t have had better timing. I’ve admired these folks for their lifestyle long before the internet damaged my faith in cyber humanity. And seeing them again after three years not only reminded me of my principles, but also inspired me to channel this secret struggle into something proactive.
“We don’t need a plan, we just wanna hang out. With you guys.” said my uncle when we asked them what they intended to do in the city. Taking my baby cousin Anika to the aquarium was the most costly and most schedule-y thing we did but other than that, we basically just hung out. Drove around the city, feasted over buffalo wings and ribs at home and just talked. A lot. The only times they brought out their iPhones were when communication was necessary, or when something picture-worthy happened like when Tita Betsy caught me and Anika snuggling on my bed and giggling over Jimmy Fallon videos. “This is too cute.” she said (in our book, at least).
“It’s good to be detached, especially when you’re traveling.” Did I speak with such depth when I was 12 years old???????
Even better than the endless talking and story-telling were the free concerts aka jam sessions, which by the way were completely normal in their own household back in Washington state. Did I mention that music runs in our blood? Quality music, alright, not the fist-pumping, awkward Taylor Swift dancing kind of noise.
All day and all night. Way, way better than Spotify.
Military stints, music festivals, supernatural encounters and cross-continent adventures. All intertwined in naturally witty anecdotes and some late night booze. I don’t know about you but this is cool stuff to me.
At some point during their 3-day stay, I was embarrassed to share my own thoughts because these people just embodied flat out modesty while I, on the other hand, represented the superficial world that my generation has become. It is truly rare to find people who live by practicality and utilitarianism at this day and age, let alone still believe in them. And I find it amazing how people can exemplify that while staying progressive and creative without succumbing to the materialistic and overly conscious society that we are transforming into. Lucky for me, I don’t only know such people, the very few of them left, I happen to be related to them too.
That’s the thing, I guess. Them plus their like-minded peers and the rest of us Avelinos are just tiny specks in the universe. We or I personally can’t gear everyone else’s preferences and actions towards the same direction. But picking up what I feel is best for the person that I will become already sounds like a head start. From there, I can only show what I know and hope that less people count on likes, favorites and retweets for validation. Humility is challenging but perspective is the only thing I’d guiltlessly brag about because I’ve seen it firsthand; there is way more to life than mere status, attention and likability.
I think that makes me a cooler kid.