Struggling to be private in this obsessive world

New person: Hey, it’s very nice to meet you!
Me: Very nice to meet you, too.
New person: Let’s keep in touch! What’s your Facebook?
Me: Oh, I don’t have Facebook.
New person: [gives bewildered stare] What?
Me: I — …
New person: WhyareyounotonFacebook? [leans closer, eyes more fixated]
Me: [takes a deep breath] Once upon a time, during a time of …

Seriously. I’m getting tired of the weird looks and unbelievable gasps of “WHY?!?!” every time I tell people I don’t use Facebook. How can a millennial not join the biggest social network? Most especially if she’s from the Social Media Capital of the World? What baffling mystery in such modern time, let’s not give this a rest!!

Acquaintance: If I can’t friend you on social media, get on Viber. It’s just for messaging, don’t worry! You know what? You should get WhatsApp too! It’s only slightly different but you should totally use it ’cause a lot of people do.
Me: Well, you can just text me when —
Acquaintance: Oh come on! You’re not very responsive with texts. You know, it’s not enough that you and I talk in person. I get mind-blowing shower thoughts in the middle of the night, how are we supposed to discuss them when you don’t reply?

I live in a cave that’s very good at blocking cellphone signals. It’s troublesome sometimes but it lets me take the break I need from socialization. However, with everybody online, plus the rise of instant messaging apps, I was eventually forced to get not just one, but two of them. Actually, three because who hasn’t used Skype back in mid 2000s to call your overseas aunt/cousin/grandma? Or four, if you count Google Hangouts because I’m a Gmail user.

Person: [sends message] Heeeyyy, check this out!
Person: [sends link to a sports article] He scored!
Me: [replies] Yeah, cool!

I’m not really a fan, but what the heck!

Anyway, it’s not that I hate social media or instant messaging, because I don’t. Like everyone, I indulge in the convenience they provide. Some of my closest friends are in other parts of the world and I love how catching up can be done anytime, for free. The problem lies with people who have become so obsessed with information and forgotten that there is still life offline.

Person: [sends more messages]
Person: [sends more photos, links, articles, encyclopedias, insurance contracts]

I’m highly introverted, especially when I was younger, but recently I’m becoming successful in overcoming shyness. It feels wonderful meeting people of different sorts as it allowed me to become more welcoming of human beings who are from backgrounds entirely different from mine. But despite being able to expand my social circle, I’m still the reserved person I’ve always been. I can keep a stranger company and not bore him to death because I’m willing to talk about the things I know and I’m able to listen to what they have to share, out of interest or simply, out of respect.

Person: [sends hundredth message] Oh my gosh, why haven’t you read my messages yet?
Person: [cannot stop sending messages] Are you asleep?

Of course, around my close friends and family, I freely express my passionate opinions, no holds barred. You see, this is something I cannot do with everybody; not even with acquaintances or colleagues, and surprisingly, there are a LOT of people who don’t understand. There will be people who will wring you for answers. They will want to know what you’re up to. They will annoy you til you speak up.

Person: [sends 28024th message] Hellooo? Everything going alright? It says here you were online 5 minutes ago.
Me: [opens messages, thinks of a nice cover-up, types] Hey. Yeah, I’m fine. I‘m just busy with something.

Like watchdogs/ninjas/stalkers/PIs/the FBI/your mom, they’re watching.

Person: [replies in 0.0001 sec] Oh! Well, I just thought about blah blah blah…
Me: [reads message, thinks of something nice to say, thinks really hard, types something, nope, can’t offend, erases message, thinks harder this time, still nope, gives up, puts down phone]

If you want to know what goes on in my head, you’ll be exhausted. Memories, mistakes, worries, fears, corny jokes, embarrassing moments, rants, forgotten dreams, fetishes — they’re all floating around. And the same goes for everybody, right? Our minds are always busy. But we don’t always have to bother other people and let them know about that.

My Twitter profile is full of musings and rants, and I’ve been tweeting since 2009. A lot of my tweets are very cringeworthy and I regret almost all of them. Not that I’m ashamed of who I am but I was a teenager during the majority of my very active, tweeting life. Plus, bottling up emotions was very unhealthy. I had to let out the rage I feel over the stupidity of dating reality shows and talentless “artists” dominating national television.

There came a time that I had to set my profile to private because new-found colleagues happen to enjoy the shaming game called “Let’s Google [insert name here]”. I didn’t want them to know about the time I almost flipped a reckless driver and how I badly wanted to smash his windshield.

Person: [sends 28026th message] OH MY GOSH!!! You totally seen-zoned me!!! WHYYYY [insert crying emoji, sticker, action word]
Person: [sends ten more crying emojis]

Now, you could say, I should just watch my tweets and be careful before posting online. Yeah, I could do that, but it’s my page! It’s the little world where I’m allowed to rave and rant, without having to force my friends to react.

Person: [respawns] Hey, I created a Twitter account!! Already sent you a follow request! *wink*
Me: [opens twitter, sees follow request, reviews own profile, finds lots of angry, cheesy, embarrassing tweets, thinks hard of what to do]

How in the world do you say, “I don’t want you to know more about my private life than what I’m willing to share with you right now,” without sounding like a dick and with guaranteed no follow up questions?

Person: [hands on fire] Why is my follow request still pending?! Are you hiding something?? I thought we’re friends!!
Me: [wipes out 14k tweets, changes private profile to public, contemplates 10x before tweeting anything]
Me: [crawls on floor, sits on fetal position, rocks back and forth]