OUT OF a whim, I sent a rather “dramatic” message to some of my blockmates via Facebook. I told them to reach me through text or e-mail and not through the social networking site, where most of the class (and personal life) updates were posted. I haven’t accessed my account for almost a week when this happened, and maybe my drama queen tendency kicked in because I haven’t been “in the know.” I ended the short note with: “I’m lonely, and Facebook only makes it worse.”

One of them immediately sent me a text message, asking me what was wrong. I replied “Wala naman,” which I followed with a tirade of how sad it is that Facebook seemed to have robbed us the human touch.

Call me sentimental, but I feel sad when I hear people say “I-FB mo na lang,” dashing out of the conversation and in the company of the computer. It makes me wonder: is it the culture of instants and hurries that drives us to do this to family and friends?

Thinking about it, a significant chunk of the 367 “friends” I have there are not my friends, but mere acquaintances—someone I met at a gathering, contacts needed for ‘official’ business, or a friend’s friend. I get invites, seeing “1 mutual friend” on the notification, and I hit the “Ignore” button from time to time. But I’m often tempted to accept the request when there’s a tiny hint of familiarity. For now, I keep some of the requests in the “Not Now” vault because I really don’t know what to do with them.

I’m also torn between freedom of expression and what qualifies to be expressed in that arena. Undoubtedly, the habit of answering the inquiry “What’s on your mind?” has led some to wash dirty linens in public, or to bring someone else’s filthiness out for all of Facebook-land to see.

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Then there are those who confuse the mind with the heart, thus opening up about their lives’ misery—bluntly or in codes. I would have to plead guilty for the times that I poured my disgust or sadness on my Facebook wall, but lately I’ve learned the importance of keeping mum and approaching people.

Don’t get me wrong; the high-speed, almost limitless communication line provided for us today is an amazing innovation that may be used to come up with good results. It has also become an avenue for relationships to go on even with distance. But, as in everything else, there are things in life that must be presented to the right audience in the right time. Not everything must be up for online public consumption; that’s the luxury (or curse) that only celebrities must live with..

I have this fear that we might never find our way around this dilemma. But maybe we can make things a little better by striking a balance—by remembering that interaction is an essential for us humans, and by reminding ourselves that face-to-face encounters are still much better than access to Facebook pages.

***

To Ma’am Ophie, the woman who knew how to weave the human touch in words and in teaching: Summer had passed, as everything else must. But I know that it will not be the end. The habit of reading will go on and I’ll start writing again. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be one of your “kids”, even for just a week. I hope that all of us can make you proud someday. And maybe, when the time comes, we’ll find you again, writing verses and singing the classics in the company of angels.

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