Seeing the world through another's eyes
As much as Facebook is a virtual space of borderless interaction, it has, for many, undeniably become our most immediate and primary news source. It's a personalised pool of information, which though we have chosen consciously, can transform who we are and the way we think without our even realising it. And I have often wondered what it would be like to live, maybe for a day, in the social media world of other people's Facebook accounts.
Over the course of time, and especially in this heated political atmosphere, our ideologies are constantly fed and affirmed by a post from the well-known activist we follow, or a piece of news shared by that Facebook page or status updates by people we have chosen to become friends with. Of those people or pages we don't agree with, we Unfollow and Unlike, and voila! We don't have to tolerate their stupid ideas ever again.
To experiment with the idea, I asked a friend for just a 10-minute trial browsing in her Facebook. Aside from these obviously unfamiliar faces who could have been her school friends, a friend of a friend or children of her mum's friends and so on, the following are randomly picked up from what these strangers (to me) have been sharing and discussing.
There's an article by Matichon discussing problems Thai schools and universities face by changing the old academic schedule to fit that of Asean's standard. There was news about a 24-year-old "pretty" pressing charges against a plastic surgeon who ruined her breasts and face. Celebrity and heir of country resort Bonanza Khao Yai, Songkran Taechanarong, is suffering from dengue fever but is well taken care of by his wife Taksaorn "Aff" Paksukjarern. There's a picture of Trisdee "Por" Sahawong, who's in a critical condition from dengue, dressed in a "Bike For Dad" T-shirt, waving a Thai flag and looking at the sky.
There's a Prachachat article exploring "pansexual", a sexual preference which is not limited to gender, using Miley Cyrus as an example. Janie Tienphosuwan admitted that she did go to Japan with hi-so businessman Chalermchai "Kueng" Mahagitsiri, and also assured us she isn't going to replace her friend Chris Horwang in popular TV show The Face Thailand. There's a picture of former Democrat Party key member and PDRC chief Suthep Thaugsuban, with his recent quote: "Politicians should compare themselves to athletes who don't have to care what rules are being set. When it's time, just go in and play by the rules."
Back to my own Facebook, it's a totally different world. Over just the course of a cup of coffee, here's what I have learned. Here, in my personalised virtual space, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan trusts that the army had nothing to do with the corruption regarding the construction of Rajabhakti Park.
Here, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has just praised the Myanmar election, in which over 80% of those who are eligible took part, and urged Thailand to use them as an example. I learned that like other recent deaths of lese majeste suspects -- Pol Col Akrawut Limrat killed himself by jumping off a building and Pol Maj Prakom Warunprapa who was found hanging in his prison cell -- Mor Yong was cremated right away without religious rites. A study by King Prajadhipok's Institute indicates that 87.5% of the people still have confidence in the PM, twice as much as compared to last year. This is by no means to suggest that there is one virtual space that's better or "more right" than the other. Yes, personalisation is freedom, yet it's not as much to do with what technology allows us as how we choose to use it.
But the fact that we exist in the same period of time, in the same social context and geological location, yet what's going on our Timeline, in the very same stretch of time, can be so different is worrying and most significantly, ironic. What has been invented to bring us closer turns out to be something which makes us even more estranged.
This definitely applies to Facebook users of the two colour-coded camps who have become more and more alienated from one another and bound ever-tighter to their own side. Unfriend, Unlike and Unfollow buttons have allowed us to completely shut out the other party, even though from time to time open-mindedness will show that both sides might, from time to time, share common views. We don't have to agree on everything, but a small amount of common ground could at least be the start of something.
Kaona Pongpipat is a writer of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.
Writer for the Life section
Kaona Pongpipat is a writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.