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Stories

I Have No Facebook Friends and it Made Me a Better Person

In August 2018, I deleted my social media accounts spawned by my decision to become a minimalist. Somebody asked me a few months back what’s the impact of leaving the most-used social media platform (nope, it’s not TikTok) in the world, Facebook. I haven’t given myself the time to reflect on it until they mentioned it, so here’s an update. But first, let me clarify that I have an FB account to manage my Facebook page and promote my blog posts. Unlike most users, though, I have no Facebook friends.

What about other social media platforms?

I stayed out of Twitter and only used Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, I’m currently on a break from this app. I deactivated it in July and I’m still unsure if I’ll go back and post regularly or at all; so let’s see.

Related: Going Minimalist – How I Found Peace By Owning Less

I tried TikTok, the preferred social media app of Gen Zs, and God knows how long I’d tried to stay away from it. I used to think I’d get nothing from it but cringe content, and by cringe, I mean thirst traps or videos of people lip-syncing or dancing to the latest song trend. But I opened my mind and checked it out one time. I discovered that TikTok has other content that is more right up my alley, such as inspirational and philosophical talks, funny clips, creepy stories, etc.

At first, I didn’t post any content and just scrolled through the videos. Eventually, I started sharing my coffee pursuits. I didn’t get a lot of views, but it was cool; I’m now in a place where stats don’t keep me up at night.

In April this year, I deleted the app from my phone. TikTok is so addicting it kept me up all night. So I don’t have plans to reinstall and use it again because, as fun as it may have been, it wasn’t healthy for me. It fed on my procrastination and made me neglect what I was supposed to be doing. It was fun while it lasted, but I’ve decided to leave it to the young. 

How’s life without Facebook friends?

You might be wondering, what’s life without Facebook friends? The short answer is quiet. I didn’t realize how much it affected my psyche until I got rid of my old account.

My main concern before deleting Facebook was that I’d miss out on things. What if somebody got married, had a baby, or worse, passed away? How would I know if I didn’t have FB? Then I asked myself, so what, why do I need to be kept in the loop? It’s not like the news wouldn’t reach me through some other method if it’s really important.

I’m not saying that I stopped caring about the people I know but considering everything, their importance does not precede my peace of mind.

The main reason I quit Zuckerberg’s platform was that I couldn’t handle it anymore. I constantly forced a connection and craved attention, then felt shitty when nobody gave me the time of day. Then I compared my lifestyle to my peers and envied them if they had anything missing in my life, e.g. a family of their own.

I was also attention-hungry and didn’t appreciate being ignored. I took it personally if my post didn’t gain traction. Do you know how pathetic that is? Just remembering it now makes me cringe.

While it was nobody’s fault, I had to accept that I was unnecessarily invested and affected by everything and everyone. It was detrimental to my mental health, and the only way I could stop myself from spiraling out of control was to quit the source of my misery.

So I deleted my old Facebook, alongside a decade worth of memories. 

The first outcome was losing connection with most of my FB friends, e.g., family members, classmates, old colleagues, and fellow bloggers. I don’t know what’s going on with their lives, and they don’t get to hear mine unless they follow my FB page or Instagram. I thought losing touch or being unaware of what people around me are up to these days would negatively impact my life, but it didn’t. It’s kinda like when somebody dies, and the world goes on; that’s how it was for me; I received no updates from anyone, yet my life went on. I know I can use a better analogy, but this is the best way I can describe it.

But there are also certain disadvantages, including less promotion for my blog and YouTube videos. Yes, I had started posting more videos on my YouTube channel after neglecting it for years, but that’s another topic. Going back, my blog traffic declined, along with it, blog sponsorship opportunities, and connections.

Related: How Social Media Affected My Creative Process

However, the good outweighs the bad. Recently, our country held an election, and I heard that there were much disinformation and propaganda that people had been sharing on FB. I have this toxic habit of reading comments even when I know they can be quite triggering. I can spend hours browsing through posts, reading comments, and carrying the negative feelings from those posts well after I have locked my phone. 

While it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be aware of what’s going on in our society—after all, we can’t keep each other accountable if we’re ignorant of what the other is doing—I was still susceptible to feelings of dismay and anger being exposed to things that didn’t align with my moral code.

And I’m not an isolated case; a study from Yale University published in Science and Advances journal in August 2020 showed that social media is making people angrier. The May 2022 presidential election is a good example. You’ve probably seen or participated in the collective anger expressed by the supporters of the two leading presidential candidates. People fought and unfriended one another over opposing political views; it was insane.

I’m pretty sure had I been on FB during the election, I would have hurt feelings, gotten my feelings hurt, and stuck pins on voodoo dolls.

Looking back, I let social media control me instead of the other way around. It greatly influenced my behavior and how I gauged my self-worth. Having said that, I neither like nor miss the person I was when I was active on Facebook.

Final thoughts

Social media has a way of bringing out the worse in people. While it’s not all bad, in my case, the bad outweighs the good. 

By choosing to reduce my social media exposure and usage, I was able to take back autonomy. My disposition has improved; things don’t easily ruffle my feathers, and I’ve gotten better at keeping my emotions in check.

I didn’t write this to discourage you from using Facebook. Maybe you have the emotional intelligence to use it well; perhaps the positive supersedes the negative for you. If that’s the case, then there’s no need to quit FB. After all, it’s still the best platform to stay connected with the people in our lives.

But if like me, the platform is more damaging than constructive, then I hope I was able to give you a glimpse of what life is like without an account or FB friends to merit consideration. Trust me; there’s life beyond Facebook; you can quit it and go on living.

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Food Lifestyle

Kape de Arko La Union Review

With a decision to become a vegetarian comes the acceptance that there are some foods that I love that I will never be able to eat again. One of them is the Ilocos empanada, a half-moon-shaped, deep-fried pastry with meat, veggies, and egg fillings. I still remember the best Ilocos empanada I’ve ever tasted; I bought it from a small stall near a bus station in Laoag. On my recent trip to La Union , my friends and I discovered a vegan restaurant that offers a plant-based option of this pastry, which they aptly named veganada. So see, my fellow vegetarians, all hope is not lost. This vegan empanada is available at Kape de Arko.

Within old church ruins on gravel-covered grounds lay, Kape de Arko, a vegan cafe along the national highway in the municipality of San Juan. The ambiance is rustic and has its charms.

Since everything on their menu is plant-based, my only dilemma was choosing which dish to order. I got Veganada (PHP 50 – USD 0.90) and Plant-based kornbiflog (vegan corned beef). The veganada is made with monggo, squash, and papaya. The taste reminded me a lot of samosas, a famous Indian pastry. The dough was thick and a bit tough, so I struggled to cut it in half. It was pretty filling that by the time they served my kornbiflog, I was already full.

Apart from individual orders, we shared a plate of Stir-fried canton noodles made with cabbage, monggo sprout, carrots, nuts, and sugar-glazed coconut shreds. My friends also ordered Vevengka avocado and Marinara pasta (PHP 180 – 3.24 USD).

All in all, it was a lovely lunch, and my friends, even the non-vegan ones, enjoyed the food that we had. My only suggestion for improvements would be better ventilation. While the place is al fresco, there was no fan, so it could get quite hot, especially in the summer.

Author’s note: Prices may change without prior notice. USD conversion is based on the currency exchange rate on August 6, 2022.

Contact information

Address: Mc Arthur National Highway 2514 Ili Sur, San Juan, La Union
Business Hours: Mon-Fri – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. | Sat – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KapeDeARKOSanJuanLU
Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/kapedearkosanjuanlu/

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Travel

Elyu Weekend

I lay flat on my stomach over the gray sand, my cheeks pressed against my folded arms, then I closed my eyes. At that moment, I felt at peace, like it was the most natural thing to do in the world. My two friends were nearby, each having their moments with the sea. The sky was gloomy that day; I need not worry about getting sunburned. My thoughts were clear, reveling at the moment that I wished would last forever. Moments later, a great rush of waves came and pushed me from my perfect spot. My body rolled down the shore as if I weighed nothing. It was as if the sea reminded me that all good things must come to an end. But instead of getting discouraged, I was more determined to repeat the experience.

And that’s what I did, over and over; lying on the sand and getting tossed back to the shore, the water and sand getting inside my ears. It was like a game, the sea a fickle lover, myself the relentless pursuer. The sea didn’t stop tossing me away, but I was just as resolute to return to her.

I will never forget this moment at Urbiztondo beach with my friends Cathy and Jon when we went there in the first week of July. Cathy had rented a room in a transient house for a month and invited Jon and me to spend the weekend with her, so we did.

This would be the third time I’d visited the province; the first was a solo trip to La Union in 2016, and the second was in June this year with friends. So yes, we went back because Elyu, I have come to realize, is fun when you’re with the right company.

Cathy married a few years ago and now lives in Germany with her husband. She went home in May 2022 for a vacation. While here, she mostly stayed with her family in her home province, Pangasinan, and spent a month in La Union.

Carpooling is a time waster

Friday afternoon, right after my work, a carpool picked me up from Eastwood City. I found this carpool service from a Facebook group and booked a ride to La Union on that day. The good thing about riding in a carpool is that they will pick you up from your house or other chosen location (in my case, my place of work), and they will drop you off at your exact destination. The bad thing about it is that it’s more expensive (I paid PHP 1,300) and wastes so much time.

Because you’re carpooling with other passengers, it’d feel like you’re on tour with all the pick-ups and drop-offs the driver would be doing along the way. I realized now that I had highly inconvenienced myself in my pursuit of convenience. Not only did I pay more, but I also had to be on the road for a long time. In conclusion, it’s better to take public transportation. Time, at my age, is currency; the more I waste time, the more restless I become.

The drive itself was stressful because of my fellow passengers. There was a girl who was always talking with someone on the phone on loudspeaker. The girl cursed like a sailor; it was disconcerting. I do curse sometimes, usually when I’m angry, but she cussed in every breath like it was nothing.

“Tanga hindi ko nakita.” (moron, I didn’t see it).

“Tangina nag away kami nun.” (motherfucker, we fought).

“Gago siya.” (he’s stupid)

I sat there thinking, Girl needs to gargle with holy water. And because she talked during the entire ride⸺and chose not to be discreet about it⸺I found out that she’s close with an aunt of hers, had quarrels with many people, and has a scandal video of an acquaintance saved on her phone. Wow.

But that wasn’t all. The messenger chat sound kept beeping from somebody’s mobile phone and the young man sitting beside me scrolled through his Tiktok, also without using earphones. Basically, I was an unwilling listener to every conversation, every tone, and every video played. Seriously, what’s up with people?

As if my misery wasn’t enough, the driver dropped me off at Mad Monkey Burger Lab instead of my stop. The tricycle drivers saw me and offered to give me a ride for PHP 70. I checked Google Maps and saw that it was just a 6-minute walk to the transient house; they were obviously trying to scam me into paying more. I decided to take the rest of the way on foot, notwithstanding I was carrying a heavy backpack and that it was around 10:00 in the evening. This is how every murder story begins, I thought to myself.

A pretty chillax weekend with friends

This trip was pretty chill. Cathy was staying in a beachfront transient home, so every morning, we woke up to the sound of waves. It was humid that a slight movement undid the showers I’d taken. Cathy cooked our food most of the time, then in the afternoon, we went to the beach to take a beating from the waves. At one point, we talked about taking some surfing lessons, but the strong waves deterred the amateurs in us.

Saturday morning, we went to the public market to buy the ingredients that Cathy would cook for us. I was in a daze, wanting to buy all the rice cakes and other local desserts I laid my eyes on.

We also went to some cafes and restaurants in San Juan; gossiped over coffee and bread at MASA bakeshop, had pizza and pasta at Kermit La Union, and enjoyed iced matcha lattes at Puesto d’ Cafe.

I had been despondent that week, so I appreciated my friend’s company. Jon’s jokes and Cathy’s peals of laughter kept my demons at bay. We were having so much fun that I had forgotten I was supposed to share the root of my anxiety with them.

I’ve noticed how much Cathy has changed. She used to be so out-of-touch, but now she can participate in discussions where the topics are deemed uncool yet necessary, such as the recent presidential election. Even her demeanor has changed. She was very bubbly, laughed like there was no tomorrow, and couldn’t sit still, like a kid who never runs out of energy. While she remains warm and friendly, now she moves with finesse and grace.

Everything about her has improved, from how she talks to how she dresses. She credits this to living abroad, fully adapting to the way of the Germans, where people regard rules as rules, not a suggestion. She would even remind us to wear our masks whenever we went out, a far cry from the girl who was the most carefree of the lot. Sometimes I stared at her, wondering where my old friend had gone, but out of fascination rather than disappointment. Change is good and I think it suits her.

Sometimes we get a glimpse of her old self whenever Jon cracks a joke. She laughed like it was the last time; her voice echoing through the whole house.

Jon used to be the least invested in our group. He didn’t travel with us that much and hardly joined our meetups. This year, however, Jon had dealt with some life changes that subsequently altered the way he communicated with us. These days, it’s easier to convince him to join our trips and get-togethers.

Going home

I went home that Sunday night by another carpool; just like the first one, this trip took an eternity. The only consolation is there were no pesky personalities in this ride. My fellow passengers were generally quiet.

Once upon a time, I had no trouble finding sleeping during long land travels, but for some reason, I seemed to have lost the ability. I was wide awake the entire ride, which made me quite anxious as I was going to work that Monday morning. I was the fourth passenger to be dropped off. By the time I reached home, it was already around 4:00 in the morning.

I wish I could have stayed longer in Elyu. I wanted to explore more, spend more time with my friends, laugh until my belly hurt, and forget about the loneliness that had been eating me these past few weeks. But just like what the sea reminded me, all good things must come to an end.

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