Virtual anger and sadness

- Tito Genova Valiente E-mail: titovalien­

The Internet has developed my anger at anything. Online, I am always angry. Save for the time when I greet friends or acquaintan­ces on their birthday, anger or rage is my default emotion as I engage the social media. This is not unique to me. There are more anger out there shared by others, screamed out for the world to hear or, at least, see. While I contend with Messenger and Facebook, other angrier individual­s can tweet messages or exhibit more images than my otherwise more formal approach to virtual communicat­ions.

My generation relies on clear messages the way we write out formal essays or business communicat­ion. We are condemned to follow the protocols in human living as if going virtual is akin to being virtuous.

As I write this, I am enraged by the fact that there is no Internet connection available. I am so desperate I am thinking of who to pray for. I do not buy the cult built around that young Italian boy who is really more the patron saint for cool rubber shoes than for desperate measures. And yet disconnect­ion means death.

In a world where people are not connected to social media, the facea-face dealings have more articulate­d mediations. Kin groups are nets that are able to catch frustratio­ns; clustering according to age can soften people’s shoulders. Feelings of anger do not easily spill out venoms and spite. There is more caring for each other— or a more calculated pretense to show others things are alright.

To some, this gesture of always being accommodat­ing may be hypocritic­al. To some, however, the question is why do we need to discover always the motivation­s behind every act? Life is short and overthinki­ng short-circuits the very life in which the real, more practical questions are prioritize­d over fraudulent meditative status.

Was the social media born to release all our pent-up anger or emotions? The anonymity and the massive population into virtual relationsh­ips are two reassuring elements that threaten to become the act of faith.

The possibilit­ies online are infi

nite. The list of characters for us to assume is eternal.

Are you the relentless advocate or the insidious lover of Nature? Are you the political pundit issuing threats to corrupt politician­s or the ponderous philosophe­r reciting quotes you wish you had asked your favorite student to remember by heart?

Presently, the online universe is saddled by complaints (mine included) about how the government has forsaken its citizens during a series of super storms. The serial complainer­s are numerous—this group is composed of those persons who take note of everything, has comments about any issue. This person believes s/ he has to be heard always. It is his/ her way of reminding the world out there that s/ he knows what is happening to our planet, in the big way, or to our small community, in the small way.

The multitudin­ous exposures online make us believe we are all enablers even if the technology that makes us momentary heroes are the same tools that can disable our deeds anytime.

We are all brave online. Our courage comes from the reality that online is not real. We can rant; we can shout; we can cry, but the technology allows us not to listen to the voice and not to feel the tears.

Thus, we light candles for the death of someone who we may never know at all. The availabili­ty of lovely, well-designed candles and wreaths makes it easy for us to join the world in a procession of sympathies without us leaving the comfort of our cozy, happy rooms. We jump on board the ship of affection not because we care but because we want to be visible to those who take online presence as an index of technical affluence and acumen.

Geography is blurred online. The person who is in touch every minute with the social ills of this country may be somewhere where poverty is a mere point to ponder while contemplat­ing the allure of éclair over home-baked muffins. And who knows that the politics of an activist we have developed an ideologica­l fondness for is in reality an academic exercise fueled by a tendency to enjoy ideas rather than fight for ideals.

The Internet, it is said, was created for the world to maintain its lines of communicat­ions among those who will survive a cruel nuclear war. Today, the Internet is the survivor of our own passion and highly evolved trait to hate each other for the sake of being charming and cute.

If there is something beneficent about online discourse, it is in the power of the virtual to make moving on achieve a non-territoria­l trait. Online, we move on. No one tarries. We see a problem, we post a solution. We read a remark that seems to address our weakness, we answer back with an insult. But we do not wait for responses. More remarks cascade; a thousand problems appear. But we move on, to the next world problem, to the next threat to world peace and our own contributi­on to a body of knowledge that does not really care if the universe is listening or asleep.

It is a lovely, silly world out there. The ideologue frothing at the mouth may, in the next post, be the music lover in tears over Chopin’s Ballade; the existentia­l thinker despondent over hunger may be the soul delirious over his Colombian coffee. It is a hopeful world desiring its own hopelessne­ss.

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