In light of certain events that transpired recently, I decided to write about something I’ve been afraid to speak up about for the longest time because of how it would be taken negatively by people who would conclude that I’m no fun or too sensitive. To make things clear, this post is not meant to offend anybody nor bring up wounds of the past. Nor is it some form of retaliation. I consider my blog a safe space where I can freely express myself and I just want to say I would actively try to do so not at the expense of anybody’s feelings.
As friendships go, I suppose the norm really is that when you’re close to somebody (or even when you’re not in which case it is a little off) it’s customary for you to greet or talk to them in a certain way. By calling each other names. Endlessly joking about followed by bouts of laughter. Trashtalking when engaged in sports. It goes on and on. People who know me would say I’m used to these kinds of encounters — which at its core is really nothing bad or alarming. Some would call it an unorthodox way of showing affection. Like how bullying in preschool would mean the bully actually has a crush on you. But what I would like to draw attention to is the possible harmful effects of going too far and the effect it has on others.
I was once told I’m a primary target of being made gago (I have no clue what the closest English translation is) because of how I would react either by responding and negating what they had said about me in some high pitch tone that they would find amusing (and worse, proceed to mock it afterwards) and I’ve managed to condition myself to immediately laugh and play along whenever it would happen, sometimes out of fear that not doing so would lead to them calling me pikon (easily angered by jests) instead. But what happens when it goes too far? To an extent that those insults dressed as jokes actually hurt you? Do you tell them off? Do you let it go? What’s the most socially acceptable way to address it? Where do you the draw the line? Especially in a world where people (mostly millennials) are criticized for being too offended by everything? I honestly have no answer.
Recently an embarrassing photo of me resurfaced the web and sure, I’ll be the first to say it was a funny incident worthy of being turned into a meme (which I think already happened when a famous frisbee player posted it on his account LOL). I will not deny that. I even joined the joke bandwagon and laughed it off. However, when people started captioning it with inappropriate language or subliminal meaning, which could be considered a light example of slut-shaming — not to mention far from the truth as I was the one bumped into, aside from the fact that the photo itself is very incriminating not just for me but the other person involved — I felt that it was time for me to say that despite being (good) friends and the nature of our friendship to be based on jokes, laughter and having a good time (which are undoubtedly some of the finer things in life), there is a strong, urgent need for a little more discernment before saying things that could possibly break or ruin an otherwise unfazed and cheerful person.
It has reached a point where I don’t even want to talk to people first (especially on bad days where I cannot put on a mask) because I just know the first thing they’ll say to me is some form of teasing or an insult dressed as a joke. I have long known myself to be suffering from anxiety with a history of panic attacks which I believe worsened in law school and is being made worse by attacks via words that people tend to throw at me — although they are clothed with the protection that they were not meant to be offensive. I try my very best to have good days. I am happy, positive, and engaging in general but the amount of effort it takes for me to be this way is a lot and is often hampered by these seemingly trivial incidents or situations that I try not to put myself in. I’m as conditioned to deflecting teasing as others are conditioned to constantly doing it to me.
I guess what I’m trying to say, finally, is that I think there is a need for more empathy — not just for me (oh god I didn’t intend to make people feel guilty or make this a pity party but please na rin if it affected you in some way haha) but for others who might feel the same way but never had the courage to say it. I feel you. I really do. It sucks. Bigtime. So let’s as much as possible try not to create a culture that feeds on people’s weaknesses, insecurities or misfortunes often turned into friendly, mindless banter, distinguish a fine line between joking and harming, and encourage a healthier, less destructive dialogue…because you never know, it might just mean the world (or its stabilization) to another person.☺️
P.S. Again, I didn’t write this as a means to retaliate. I just felt a whole lot better making this.
P.P.S. This was written in a haste but if you have any comments or clarifications, I will gladly answer.
/EDIT/ P.P.P.S. If you want to see the photo, ask and I can show it to you. I don’t care anymore that the photo has spread only that I wanted it taken down so there wouldn’t be a place for people to comment without thinking of the consequences. I didn’t want it to be following me for the rest of my life at the behest of anyone who decides to bump up the photo at any given time. 😊