When was the last time you saw people who are actually happy? Every morning when I take a walk around downtown (as my morning exercise), I can't help but observe that most of the people in the street -- students, office workers, etc. -- seem to be pissed. About life perhaps? Or is it because they lack sleep?
In any case, these kids looked happy:
Jeepney drivers, tricycle drivers, peddlers... these are the usual people who actually look happy early in the morning.
How about you? Can you say you're happy? I refuse to answer my own question.
You've heard the word several times. JIHAD. And I know that you non-Muslims only see it as war, as in war of Muslims against the US, or stuff like that. But jihad is actually an Arabic term which simply means struggle, and a practitioner is called a Mujahid.
And that's me currently! A mujahid. I am engaged in jihad against myself, for I believe I have been practicing things lately that are impure. Smoking for instance. Or being a casual squandering person. Just this afternoon, while pondering on Islamic concepts I learned through television, I realized that I should start to adopt jihad in my life—again.
Again? Because it's not really an entirely new thing to me. Back in college, my friends would know that I would always preach about "the warrior inside of us." This warrior is the one that fights and vanquishes our inner desires which actually do not lead to our improvement. I would always channel this warrior, for example, whenever I felt lazy to exercise, or whenever I felt lazy to do school work. I assume it's the same concept as that with jihad.
Along the way, however, this warrior had been defeated by the Self. Probably, this is the reason I have been feeling shitty lately. I let my Self defeat the warrior inside of me, feeding myself the delusion that such kind of liberation is for my improvement. But really, it's not.
I'm starting a new leaf again. I have resurrected the warrior. I pray that this warrior will not be defeated again.
For the record, I am not a Muslim. I have high regard for Islam even though I am a Christian. In reality though, I absorb whatever sensible ideas I can get from all religions.
It's both amusing and saddening to think that I'm standing here in my current condition. It's as if I realized the reality of the so-called Butterfly Effect.
Think about it: if I were born handsome, for example, it's possible I had chosen a different path in life, and my current career had been different. If my parents separated back when I was young, I could have become a different person. If I didn't have myopia as a kid, I could have developed into a whole new being compared to what I am now -- a rotting nerd watching the History Channel and Cartoon Network in one hour intervals.
Let's minimize the details. Have you ever thought, for example, you were walking down the road... While walking, you saw a brown dog, which reminded you of the dog you saw on TV whose name is the same as that of a popular TV host back in 1995? And because of that fraction of a memory, you've been inspired to become a TV host too. That is why you dedicated a huge percent of your life just to reach that goal?
Well let's say you indeed reached your goal. It's overwhelming to think that, what if back when you were walking down the road, you didn't see the brown dog? Instead, your head was turned on a few degrees to the left, and your eyes became focused with a trash can. and you thought nothing. Wala lang. When you got home, life was still as it was. You still do what your parents tell you, that you should be financial stable in five years' time.
Aren't you amused with these minute events that can branch out to so many huge possibilities in the future? I'm amazed. My brain salivates and I smile alone upon thinking of the beauty of life.
I keep on thinking: what if I was put in a different section back in sixth grade? I would have had different classmates, relationships could have had been different, along with the influences that had surrounded me. Could my life now had been different if I was in Section Discipline, not Section Responsibility?
Whenever I encounter people, I often think in advance—what role will you play in my life? And what role will I play in yours?
Sometimes, you don't even know these people. You just see them on the street. He's so gorgeous. He's got a nice body. You get insecure. So when you get home, you told yourself, you want to hit the gym and start being vain. And from then on, your life was never the same again. And now, look at you—a fashion model! Or a sought after prostitute perhaps.
And when you became a model, you viewed a three-minute indie film uploaded by a person you didn't know in YouTube. You saw the film because it was in the Related Videos section of the porn site preview video you clicked the link of. Ever since you saw the three-minute film, you had interest in filmmaking. You searched more indie films on the net. Ever since then, your life ran a different path.
Do you believe in fate? That people you encounter are meant to be encountered? It's nice to think the answer is yes, but what if there's no such thing?
So to all of you reading this, think about it: would your life be any different in the future if you didn't read this? (Insert "X-Files" theme song)
As the Internet is getting more and more exciting with multipurpose social networking sites sprouting here and there, and the rise of websites that provide audio-visual entertainment from around the world is getting more and more popular with the DIY (do-it-yourself) generation, could it be possible that people are staying in their homes or rooms more and are spending their existence experiencing life—or at least a digital version of it—through the Internet?
These were the thoughts I harbored right after watching the science fiction flick ‘Surrogates,’ which I promised myself to certainly watch ever since I had seen its trailer. ‘Surrogates’ is a movie set in the modern times (2054 in the comic book mini-series from which the movie is adapted, but only 2017 in the flick) when the technology of Surrogacy has not only been invented, but also has been distributed commercially among the lay people. In the film, Surrogates are marketed to those who wanted to experience life without leaving the safety and comforts of their own homes, through the senses of a remotely-controlled human-like robot, the physical features of which are dependent on the choice of the user (and they often choose their Surrogates to physically be at their best). It’s nothing different from designing your own avatar in forums or instant messengers.
The concept of Surrogacy toys with that internal desire of man to live a chic life as promoted by a capitalist society. While some humans subject themselves to actual physical alterations like surgery to live a life the way they want to be (superficially), the technology of Surrogates proposes an alternative—using remotely-controlled android counterparts the experiences of which are also experienced by the users, minus the harmful stimuli.
I am reminded with my communication studies courses in college, where it was tackled that the Internet is becoming popular because of the privilege of anonymity. Stepping into a world where other people are most likely unable to know who one really is, the user is allowed to mold a version different from how he is in the real, face-to-face world. Sometimes, he presents an exaggerated version, sometimes a “real version,” that is, that side of a person he suppresses in real life due to social stigma, etc.
Back then, for ideas used to be dominantly exchanged through words, judgment based on the physical is minimal. When pioneer social networking sites such as Friendster and Myspace came into existence, the superficial—which is, hard to admit, greatly exalted in real life—re-established its power over brains. With primary photos serving as the main selling point of a person to other people, it is pretty obvious that the good-looking ones get the most invites from unknown users in spite of the rest of their profiles being uninteresting.
Currently, people in social networking sites, who are shy about their physical attributes due to their fears of being judged based on the surface, do not post raw photos of themselves. Most of the time, they post enhanced pictures—skin brightened, noses improved through Photoshop, the shot structured strategically to show the best angle of the person, the imperfect lower body cropped out, pimples and other blemishes erased, or even as far as using the photo of a good-looking individual.
‘Surrogates’ takes this idea into a whole new level, in that social networking through technology is close to mimicking the real thing, or even causing a glamorous version of it. Superficial people who all wish to be gorgeous solve their fears of being judged physically with the fact that they can choose how their Surrogates would look like. And guess what, they often choose the gym-toned, celebrity-looking robots.
Presently, social interactions through the Internet are limited to audio-visual interactions. One cannot physically feel the person on the other end of the line. They cannot do things together except play games through the Internet.
One of the cyber-phenomena that involve group activities through the use of characters selected by users is MMORPG, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. It is a genre of RPGs (role playing games), where many players from many locations interact with one another in a virtual world, often a fantasy world that involves monsters, kingdoms, and wizards. This world has a life of its own, independent of the user’s timeline. Even though the user is AFK (away from keyboard), the virtual world, which is controlled by the publisher most probably, continues to exits and evolve.
‘Surrogates’ again takes this further, in that group activities are no longer limited to vanquishing dragons or finding hidden treasures in a magical, medieval world. The real world is the former virtual world and people can interact as they would in actuality.
Now the grandest question of them all, if I were a surrogate, how would I prefer to look like?
22, indie filmmaker, record producer, journalist, literary and pop writer, radio announcer, pop culture analyst, cultural worker, language and culture developer, globalist; BA Broadcast Comm, BA Sociology - University of the Philippines Diliman