Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
Last Tuesday, I posted a status message on my Facebook about an issue I’ve been meaning to discuss with my community for quite some time now—the culture of exclusion. This “Culture of Exclusion” is a term I made up about the feeling of being “left out” because of a person’s simple refusal to share.
Call it FOMO, but allow me to put this into context—I love food, and I follow a lot of “everyday people” on Instagram because I respect and look up to their tastes when it comes to shared interests. Some I know in real life, some I just know online; however, I’ve had several experiences when I would see a recommendation from someone with a caption such as, “This is the best tuna I’ve ever had in my life. Seasoned and seared to perfection—life changing!” The location of the place is not disclosed, and when a direct message is sent, I just get seen-zoned. What peeves me out the most, though, is when I post something, Tuna Guy sends me a message asking for more information.
Having worked (and being part of) the food industry both in Manila and Singapore, I find this behavior quite appalling and amusing at the same time. I decided to put this opinion out on Facebook with the intention of starting a discussion on this type of exclusion culture, and to my surprise, there were so many people who felt the same way I did. There was only one person who gave a defense as to why these secretive people would rather disclose a location than divulge it, but it didn’t make sense to me. Others never experienced it (good for you!), but I had a few friends who expressed their thoughts about how this doesn’t only apply to food, but also to music, to fashion, and travel spots.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to this (perhaps the person posting is a food writer, a fashion insider, etc.), but I think it becomes problematic when everyday people start having this habit of subtly one-upping others by making them feel excluded from this wonderful secret they keep. As my example with Tuna Guy, there is also an equivalent of that girl who listens to super-good music, but would like to keep her tunes non-mainstream, or that chick who never tells where she got her awesome shoes.
Why? What for? What are we trying to protect here? Or worse, what are these people trying to tell their community?
I had a chat with one of my best friends about this issue, and we struck a conversation about this sort of mentality, and our concern wasn’t only about the exclusion—it was also about the “read between the lines” message it contained about them being “a step above you.” It’s not even humble bragging; it’s a blatant and downright in-your-face “you can’t sit with me/us” meme painted all over social media. It’s an expression of a reality that they know more than you do, and that never feels nice.
So we thought that maybe, the question is “Does this person really want to recommend this place?” or “Does this person only want to show that he or she is a step above the rest?” We asked questions such as “What is the contribution, then, of these posts on social media? Would we be like this if social media wasn’t a thing right now?”
We could be overthinking, but this is just one of the many things that bare the ugly, toxic side of social media. It creates such a divisive culture on things that are meant to be enjoyed and shared as a community—food is the most relevant one for me, but it could be music or fashion for you. I love the skincare community so much because people aren’t afraid to share what they’ve been using, or what could potentially work for you. But why is it that what you eat is very telling of your social status nowadays? It’s sad to see how food has created a divide amongst people and the food-loving community in the Philippines. There are all these wonderful places to eat in where food is artfully served—and, as what my friend mentioned, the fact that food is now being turned into an artistic experience is quite a luxury, don’t you think? If we have the freedom to elevate the purpose of a daily need, then why have we become so selfish about it?
The point that we’re driving at, we believe, is about celebrating community and extending the conversation of sharing better experiences instead of keeping it to one’s self. I am someone who lives off recommendations, because I believe firsthand experience from people whose opinions I trust are the most reliable. I also do recognize the fact that everyone is not obligated to share, but my hope is to just see a more open community, and a less exclusive one; a community of enthusiasts who are more open to sharing a great experience, rather than boasting of how great the place is, but leaving you in the dark as to where to find it. Wouldn’t it be great if we could live out the experience of devouring one of the best tunas out there? What would be the harm in that?
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Marian Hukom
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