It is no secret that Filipinos love to share. We are among one of the most social cultures in the world, and when the internet and eventually social media came we clamoured to start socialising there. In 2014, a study revealed that Filipinos use social media up to 11 hours more a week than the global average (which is 42 hours). It is no surprise Philippines has been referred to as the ‘Social Media Capital Of The World’!
I could end this whole post with that, simply say that we are very social people and so we become deeply involved with social media, which makes sense. End of story. Or is it?
There is so much more beyond that. The fact that the Philippines is a top player in social media compared to even developed Western countries is a bit of a feat in itself. I can tell you a good portion of the citizens (roughly a quarter) definitely can’t afford any of iPhones and Galaxy phones because they are in extreme poverty.
But you know what? Filipinos always find a way. Our great need for socialising and social media always finds a way. If you walk around in the streets of Manila, you will notice that while iPhones and Samsung phones are not the majority, you will see many people will have cheaper Android phones. Usually odd Chinese brands that you would never really hear about. Just to have a smartphone they can afford to access the internet and social media. Now I really think that’s quite admirable. The same goes for their tablets. The last time I visited I saw at least 20 odd Asian tablet brands I didn’t know being sold in tech shops.
Let’s delve a little deeper. Why do Filipinos really like social media? What are the reasons behind their socialising to such a great extent?
Connection. Filipinos love to stay connected, and beyond everyday communication, many Filipino families have relatives who live far in the province/city or even working overseas. While traffic is almost impossible to visit all the time (don’t even start with the plane fares overseas), social media is a great, interactive way to stay in touch. Filipinos love to keep their friends close and their families even closer. Especially with the arrival of FaceTime, Skype and Viber, loved ones are even brought closer. Now you can talk via the net to an actual video feed rather than just a voice. You can see them smile, laugh and show them anything around you.
Gossip. Aside from staying connected to everyone else, Filipinos love to be connected to their favourite celebrities, shows and media personalities. Before the internet, Filipinos could only rely on tabloids, papers and magazines, which costs money per copy. The TV was also available but you had to tune in in time with the news. Now the internet is low-cost, especially if you have an internet plan. Staying updated is automatic on a news feed, accessible by a simple swipe whenever you want it.
Bragging. Yabangan. Pagyayabang. Now- this needs to be admitted. I can see many Filipinos would shake their heads at this timidly and deny. But come on. You can’t fool me. I’ve lived in two different countries equally, met many people of many nationalities and I don’t see this attitude as prevalent as in Filipinos. Whether it’s a new shopping find, a new gadget, nice clothes, a new beau or even a vacation, Filipinos love to let their friends and family know subtly how well their lives are going. For a little admiration. In a country where hardships are aplenty, Filipinos love to stand out and show how great their lives can be amidst all of it.
I say this with a neutrality, neither as an insult or praise, moreso just an inevitable fact.
Many people would say social media has definitely changed Filipino life, but I would disagree. Filipinos adopted social media into their lives and maximised its potential. So what if we’ve become a little addicted to it?
How do you use social media? Are Filipinos overdoing it or not?