We Hate Selfies and Other Discoveries

Report on the Ateneo HS' reflection on our social media life. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Report on the Ateneo HS’ reflection on our social media life. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Have you ever unfriended some people because you do not like what they post? I have.

Have you ever wished to unfollow some people whom you cannot unfriend because you have to know what they post? I have.

Have you ever yearned for your timeline to be an aggregate of useful information than a feed of useless chatter? I have.

If we develop allergic reactions to these vexatious people, we have to likewise ask ourselves the question: Are we also annoying to them? It is more realistic to manage our own social media life, than to expect others to regulate themselves (but of course, we hope they read this!).

Discover how our Ateneo High School community reflected on our internet “persona” in view of changing what we do in cyberspace into a pleasant and professional activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. We want to use our social media for social good.

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I guess, we all have experienced some social media ‘friend’ who gets on our nerves because we constantly see their rants, their whines, and their repeated posting of their “selfies of themselves.” Let me define that: the selfies we don’t want is a photo of one person in a frame, taken by the very person on the photo, and done repeatedly. Worse is a collage of only their faces (e.g. in four quadrants). After all, you can only take one or two of an unflattering photo, but that’s about it. The important adverb is “repeatedly.”

For the Ateneo High School’s Community Spiritual Hour on 5 September 2014, we decided to reflect on our “persona” in the internet. We believed that we represented the school wherever we went, whenever we were in public – whether real or virtual. We carried the name of the school and its values, so our “persona” in cyberspace should equally be respectable. St. Ignatius of Loyola had given us a tenet:

Not to impress, but to edify.

At the very least, our community affirmed that among all social media posts, we had an aversion to repeated selfies, different forms of hate messages and emotional rants the most.

The Process:

catsThese were the reflection questions:

  1. What posts do you like? What kind of accounts do you follow?
  2. What posts do you not like? What kind of accounts do you unfollow?
  3. How do you regulate yourself on social media?
  4. As a member of the faculty and staff of the Ateneo High School, what are professional ways of regulating oneself in social media?

After sharing our personal answers to our small retreat group, we sent the data to the Testing and Research Office (TRO) for collation. And then we reported the results to the community for deepening. Fortunately, the community found the results enlightening. We were happy to discover concrete suggestions on how to behave ethically and professionally in cyberspace. And we did not have to look far: the results came from our very own.

Staff and Maintenance of the Ateneo HS at the Community Spiritual Hour (CSH). Together with the faculty, they pray, reflect and share on certain topics about their life in school. In this photo, Mrs. Letty Coronado opens her heart to her colleagues, facilitated by Paulo (checkered shirt) a Jesuit pre-novice. 3 July 2015 This is part of their formation.

Staff and Maintenance of the Ateneo HS at the Community Spiritual Hour (CSH). Together with the faculty, they pray, reflect and share on certain topics pertinent to their life in school. In this photo, Mrs. Letty Coronado opens her heart to her colleagues. Her group was facilitated by Paulo Anayan (checkered shirt) a Jesuit pre-novice. 3 July 2015 This is part of the adult community (faculty/staff) formation.

Dear readers, you can make your own judgements about what posts help inspire another person to be God-like, and what items don’t. You can also profit from these results if you take them as guides to ethical behaviour in social media.

I will also include some of the staff/teachers’ responses. However, I will not use their real names for confidentiality. Instead, I will use characters from Dr. Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere.

I. Categories of Posts/Accounts Liked/Followed

“I follow inspirational, insightful and God-centered posts especially about family life. I read posts that are helpful to me and my fellow teachers as well as those that are related to my personal interests.” – Crispin

Categories

%

1. Inspirational/Motivational/Religious 22
2. Socially-relevant information (current events, articles on current
issues, etc.)
15
3. Entertainment (TV, movies, celebrities, etc.) 15
4. Relevant and updated information about friends and family 14
5. Lifestyle (Food, travel, health and wellness, DIY, hobbies,
housekeeping, etc.)
9
6. Others (‘thought-provoking’ posts, opinions that trigger intelligent
debate, notable figures, promotes activities that may help people work in
solidarity with other people)
7.5
7. Sports 4
8. Educational/Instructional 3
9. Science and Technology 3
10. Culture, Literature, Arts 2.5
11. Work-related information from colleagues 2
12. Announcements and advisories 2
13. Greetings on special occasions 0.83

II. Categories of Posts/Accounts Not Liked/ Not Followed

(I don’t like) “selfies, selfies, selfies (esp. kung feeling pretty or pogi); or posts that makes ‘parinig’ to whoever the target reader is.” – Sisa

Categories

%

1. Ego-serving: selfies, bragging 27
2. Hate messages: discriminating, attacking, humiliating other people 20
3. Rants, emotional posts. 12
4. Negative news (explicit, gruesome content, violent images) 10
5. Rumors, celebrity gossip, etc. 7
6. Anti-Catholic posts 7
7. Chain Messages 5
8. Sales/Marketing 5
9. Specific annoying people 3
10. Auto-updates from games; or invitations to play games 1.67
11. Sports 1.67
12. Uninteresting people 1.67
TOTAL 100%
Faculty and Staff members pray and share during the Ateneo HS' Community Spiritual Hour (CSH). In the CSH, we spend an hour every First Friday to reflect on our lives in school. Here, Mr. Franz Santos, Araling Panlipunan subject area coordinator opens his heart to his colleagues. 3 July 2015

Faculty and Staff members pray and share during the Ateneo HS’ Community Spiritual Hour (CSH). In the CSH, we spend an hour every First Friday to reflect on our lives in school. Here, Mr. Franz Santos, Araling Panlipunan subject area coordinator opens his heart to his colleagues. 3 July 2015

III. Personal Ways of Regulating Self in Social Media

“I choose my posts and I think before I make it public. If it’s too personal and it’s not that important, I don’t. If I’m in doubt, my rule is DON’T. Even if I have students in my friends list, I am not worried because I believe, I have self-control and I know my limitations.” – Basilio

Categories

%

1. Filtering posts: language, content, images 42
2. Restricting and classifying audience (friends, followers) 16
3. Non-disclosure of personal/sensitive information 11
4. Reduction of posts 9
5. Limit the usage of social media (reduce the number of hours) 7
6. Coursing personal communication in private 4
7. Making immediate public apologies or deleting posts for inappropriate content. 4
8. Deactivation or complete avoidance of social media 4
9. Limit revelation or avoid posting personal information 2

IV. Professional Ways of Regulating Self in Social Media vis-a-vis being in Ateneo High School

“Being a teacher, I post something informative or heartwarming about people and the workplace. Since the school has several venues to express our concerns, I don’t use FB to air issues — I’ve learned this from a grave mistake I once committed.” – Kapitan Tiago

Categories

%

1. Posting/sharing only relevant and motivational information 23
2. Filtering posts: language and content (eg. not commenting negatively about work, specific people, and keeping communication professional) 20
3. Restriction and classification of audience: not accepting requests from students, limiting communication to current students (talk only about school-related topics) 17
4. Limit the usage of social media (reduce the number of hours) 10
5. Reduction of posts/comments 7
6. Deactivation or complete avoidance of social media when at work 7
7. Avoid sharing inappropriate posts 3
8. Make immediate public apologies or deleting posts for inappropriate content 3
9. Separating personal from the professional 3
10. Choosing unpopular social media platforms 3
11. Others 3

12 Comments

  1. I have unfollowed friends who repeatedly post selfies and rants. I also don’t like those who posts picture quotes. Sometimes of those quotes are even misquotes. I mean, pwede naman 1 picture quote ipost per day. Hindi 4 or more. 😊

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    1. Tumpak ka diyan Tani. Pag-repeated at siya lang ang nasa photo (hindi man lang we-fie or there’s a nice view at the background), nakaka-inis. The difficulty of many people here is that they are unable to give feedback for fear that they will become the center of their rants on social media. You become at the losing end when you mean to help. Here, the whole community has spoken. And since it is hard data, no one can complain it is out of spite, malice or personal hate.

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  2. What an enlightening post Fr. Jboy! Count me in your number 1 paragraph. I unfriended some online friends too and constantly cleaning my friend’s list. Kung maka selfie, wagas at kung maka post ng negative comments, masakit sa ulo but it’s their wall so we have no right to complain. It’s either of these two, unfollow or unfriend. It’s the reason why I prefer blogging here, although it is a public platform, I feel safer and I love it when online friends say they are inspired by a post or two. That counts a lot.

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    1. I agree. We have a lot of these studies which I will share here. It is my personal experience of leadership in a school setting. Sometimes, it is difficult to give feedback, but in a venue where the whole community shares, you begin to realise some posts were not helping, if not annoying to them – it saves you from your emotional burden because you have statistical data. When formation is data-driven, it frees you from prejudices. Di ba?

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  3. What annoys me the most, Father?
    (1) Those who frequently post photos of their meals — I mean breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes, even merienda. Seriously?
    (2) Those who REGULARLY check in their locations — at the MRT station, airport (susundo lang naman and not traveling), restaurant, mall, etc. I am tempted to be a meanie and say, “So?”

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  4. Hahaha, sigue po, will look forward to reading all those observations. Social media – it helps in some ways but it is being abused in others. Some people are so free with their rantings, venting their ire in every post anathema to them They are hiding behind a name that’s why and not everyone is so interested to check their sites. Pa cute po yung iba, some are attention-seekers but we really don’t know if that’s their way of hiding their own insecurities, doing something para pansinin ng iba kahit mali basta sumikat lang. Ano po masasabi niyo dun sa pinamudmod po ni Binay na rosaries with a big letter B on the cross> It is going viral on the net especially on FB.

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  5. Isn’t social media a virtual place where we act and speak (our minds) the way we do in real world? I guess social media platform creators, like FB, should use other terms, not only just Friend, to add more filters and sieve through the clutters, only showing what you are mostly interested in. This can somehow be done with functions like Unfriend, Unfollow, etc, etc. But it would be effective and efficient if you could reclassify your “Friends” into something more approapriate based on your true relationship or how you consider or think of the person. Cohesion between the virtual and the real world seems to be the problem. Just like any other imperfect or imcomplete technologies out there, still evolving and reshaping, we should not dwell too long in these virtual worlds. As a result of doing this, we might lose our basic skills as human beings: (1) Speaking, (2) Self-Awareness, and (3) Rapport. But, definitely, it’s a boon to those who know how to use them.

    Simply my two cents worth, Fr. Jboy.🙂

    P.S. Bram wants to send his regards to you.🙂

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    1. Thank you for this. But in a Catholic school, whatever we are, both real and virtual, there is also what we call in faithlife as a witnessing – like the lamp whose light has to be seen. That’s the difference in a ministry where we have minors. Q: Do you tell your children that you too have done something unacceptable? We don’t. We filter right? Because we have a purpose, that is, the formation of those God has entrusted to us. That purpose is more important than self-expression. In fact, we don’t subscribe to “art for art’s sake” we say, “art for OTHER people’s sake.” That makes all the difference. So, “social media for OTHER people’s sake.” Regards to Bram.

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      1. I agree. My time policing my children about the use of social media or the Internet is very limited. They’re always at risk of picking up impure and false information. I just hope the second parents in school would be able to do this for us. Value formation at a young age is very crucial. I trust my children are able to self regulate at all times. Technologies are infused in our society in general.

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      2. Thanks Bong! We do everything we can to teach our children/students how to be critical of all the things that they encounter in the internet. The policing is difficult, even logistically. But we can teach them values first, and how? Well, the most important, is the way we are to them, including who we are, who we project ourselves to be in the internet. This is how we look at human beings (according to St. Ignatius): We are to “praise, honor and glorify God” (the AMDG) so if we’re not doing it, then we need to change whatever needs changing. We are always responsible for others. That is why, we always say, “persons FOR others” – so even in social media, we have to think before we post. If there is no value in the posts we are “sharing” then, we don’t have to share them — because even in our personal or public life, we do not want to destroy our name or others. So we don’t wash our dirty linens in public. Moreover, it is also charity: our FB, Twitter, IG followers do not deserve our negativities. I guess this is what the Ateneo HS community is saying with the results. And they are teaching us what builds and inspires them, and what doesn’t. Thanks Bong! And do take care.

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