SINCE being invited back to provide guidance to Sun.Star Davao, I signed up with TikTok and reactivated my Instagram just to have the feel of what’s going on. I was comfortable with Facebook since it’s all about connecting with family and friends and that’s all I needed from social media. But now, I have to be back in the loop and that uneasiness over what I see in Facebook Reels is reinforced.

When social media encourages everyone to get at least 1,000 followers to start earning, the young, gullible, and less discerning ones can easily be victimized — knowingly and unknowingly. I cringe at how everyone is dancing, gyrating, and staring at themselves to get those reactions and followers. What divides social media engagement and narcissism and mental health? Nothing.

What about those children made to see themselves praised (and bashed) by hundreds, is that even healthy? What delusions can random daily praises by family and strangers create in the minds of the impressionable? How big an ego can be borne from videoing yourself everyday to drive up likes and stars and shares?

I don’t have the answers, I can only pray that the educational system is equipped to counter the negative effects, which I doubt.

As a child, mom would constantly remind me of leaving a clean plate; to never get more than what I can eat and just get more if what I have on my plate isn’t enough. That’s why I do not appreciate it when some well-meaning friend or host fills up mine in that very Filipino way of encouraging a visitor to taste as many of what has been prepared.

Taste this, taste that, you have to have more of this and that...

The programming I was subjected to, which I’m aware of but can’t fight off, tells me to eat what is on my plate, and so I will eat... and eat...

In my younger years when I was not yet in control of my temper, I have snapped back at these well-meaning friends and offended many. Now, I just glare at them. But many can be insistent, Pinoy nga eh. I’d bite my tongue long and hard and just slink to a corner away from sight.

What does that have to do with the concerns above?

Think, here I am, a full adult nearer senior citizenship than debut, still controlled by a chldhood program to consume all that is on my plate. How about those children now who are made to believe it is perfectly all right to gawk at themselves daily, expose body parts to entice viewers, and even do suggestive acts with their girl/boy friends.

Then there are those who are not really studying how social media works to engage and earn, but are just out there to make a splash, a viral post, at all cost. And that all cost may indeed cost. A lot. To the person. In the future.

At 21, I thought I already knew it all. I was an adult. I have the drive and the intelligence and the talent, I. AM. GOOD! Guess what? At 58, I still cringe at that 21-year-old me and her braggadocio. I am lucky, I was a young girl, a teenager, and a twenty-something BEFORE social media and smart phones came to be. All the mistakes I made, all cringe-worthy acts and more were never videoed, photographed, and shared in the Internet for all to see and follow. The toddlers, the children, the teens, and the young adults today are not that lucky. saestremera@gmail.com, FB @saestremera, TikTok @stellaestremera, IG @saestremera