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ELIZABETH CASTILLO

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 9/15/2015 |




SONGSOPTOK : The internet revolution has deeply impacted our modern society that can be compared to the discovery of electricity. Today we can’t think of the internet without the social media. When and how did you first discover the social media?

ELIZABETH: I discovered about social media after graduating from the university following my exploration of the Net. Back then, I am still not that active yet in social networking sites and only used the Net to check my emails and surf for jobs posted online.

SONGSOPTOK : As far as interpersonal relationships are concerned, the power of the social media today is undeniable, allowing us to communicate in real time across the globe. What is your opinion about this? What are its advantages & disadvantages?

ELIZABETH:  We cannot deny the fact that social media provided us with the convenience to correspond with anyone across the globe via real time utilizing free messengers offered by social networking platforms and separate applications with the advent of the internet also, and another one is the use of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). I believe social media’s role in communication has more advantages than disadvantages for it bridges the gap- distance, miles, from continent to another continent. The only major cons I can say is when people become victims of fraud or scam when they meet con artists or psychos who also proliferate on the Net.

SONGSOPTOK : We have noticed that social media has become a powerful vector for personal expression and creativity, because we no longer need the approval or approbation to publish. Our creativity has found a new channel for addressing a global audience. What is your opinion about this?

ELIZABETH:  These modern times, we now have more room for creativity and different kinds of creative expression, be it in the form of art, literature or  music. Social media paved the way for every individual to gain access to different platforms so as to discover their “inner artist” and share their gifts to the world. If before, we are just confined within the four corners of our room and are sometimes too shy to even share our art pieces and writings, we can now post our works online through the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, among others though we must be open to criticisms whether constructive or destructive. Social media had become not just a social avenue for netizens but as well as for sharing of diverse talents of individuals.

SONGSOPTOK : In this context, it is also true that any and everybody today can claim to be a writer, a poet, or an artist on any number of social media. We no longer have a standard for appreciating true talent – a role that was played by editors or different types of experts. What is you point of view? Do you think that the power of social media have served to create more charlatans than proper artists?

ELIZABETH:  I strongly believe that social media had been an accessible outlet for emerging, aspiring, and professional artists, writers, poets, authors, photographers, and the like. Yes, anyone can be a “self-proclaimed” writer/poet/artist online using different platforms but social media offered a convenient way to discover the skills, talents, and gifts of each and everyone. One need not just be limited within his own country but can now make a name internationally given that the person really has promising or innate and “authentic talent” which is now greatly gauged by the number of followers one has, whether we like or not- it’s now different from the traditional way of setting up standards or gauging if one can be proclaimed as a “real writer or artist” by a standardized organization based on their criterion, like for example following the “Canon Law”. Social media’s impact extends beyond the limits of some of our norms because we are now in the Internet Age which produces a vast amount of famous personalities overnight judging from the number of people who supports the so-called artist or talent- those who appreciate one’s works. The rise of Indie Authors, Indie Artists can also be attributed to the powerful stronghold of social media. I, For example aimed to be an international writer before and started gaining connections through Facebook which opened many opportunities for me to be able to share my works, be recognized, and eventually make my dreams come true. From one international anthology to another, to getting my own books published -  I owe it to social media’s influence on my writing career.

SONGSOPTOK : Would you say that the social media has contributed to bringing societies and cultures across the globe closer? If not, what can be done to make it a more powerful tool?

ELIZABETH:  Social media really helped people from across the globe to get closer with each other by bridging communication through online interactions and connections. Years ago, before the introduction of the internet, the means of communication was slower and we can only gain access to just a few means of correspondence with our loved-ones and friends living across the seas. With the different messenger applications made available online and also by voice and chat features in social networking sites, we can now have real-time and faster communication.

SONGSOPTOK : Would you say that in general the users of social media are actually aware of its potential, both in the positive and negative sense? In other words, do you think that the average user is aware of the possible reach of social media and the consequences it may have? What is your own experience?

ELIZABETH:  Social media users must be aware of their responsibilities when interacting online, the same as when they are dealing with other people in the real world. “Think before you post” became a famous quote/reminder to netizens before they choose to share/post anything because once it’s online, it can spread like wildfire. In this digital age, in a matter of seconds, news can travel like a speed of lightning. Sadly, not all people who use the Net are truly responsible – they share too much information sometimes, “wash their dirty linen on public”, and post controversial statuses which can spark conflicts and misunderstandings. Some could be victims of cyber bullying or posers/fakers who steal people’s identities, photos and pretend to be the real personalities for their own selfish motives – like “scamming” or spreading false rumors which can damage the reputation of others. I have been a victim of cyber bullying before when I was just starting my international writing career. Someone had been a “poser” of mine, pretended to be me, contacted some of my friends and even posted a false bad video of me to spread bad rumors with the intention of ruining my then budding career. It turned out that she was “jealous” of me and was actually an alleged psychotic “aspiring writer”, I was told by some later on. I got rid of her eventually after weeks of getting paranoid how can the poser really wreak havoc to all my hard work and reputation. That experience taught me that just like in the real world, we should be careful in dealing with all kinds of people- not all of them  can be trusted so we must be vigilant and always listen to our natural instinct.

SONGSOPTOK : Social media is often considered to be a true reflection of human society. What is your opinion? How would you evaluate the image you see today in the context of the society you live in? How true or false is the reflection?

ELIZABETH:  When people interact in social media, some could really be showing their real selves but some could just be being pretentious and creating their own world far from reality. Social media’s impact in our daily lives cannot be denied and we can now be updated of what’s going on in our country and around the world just through our newsfeed. In this age we are in, almost everyone can be aware of the latest news be it in politics or entertainment and we can even be witnesses to brewing quarrels between friends and families alike when some post even their personal lives and the trouble they are in which is quite an embarrassment to the public. A number of people vent and rant online revealing too much at times- they say social media has become their outlet for expressing their suppressed emotions thus the term “emo” was coined referring to a person who displays too much feelings online whenever some not so good things happen to his life. Showing our true self is not all bad but too much of it cannot also be good for us as well as other people for many would just feel annoyed and we could eventually lose “friends” along the way.

SONGSOPTOK : The advent and the trivialization of social media is today’s society seem to be have erased the difference between virtual and real. Would you agree? What is you own experience?

ELIZABETH:  In a certain extent, I would agree but the presence of social media in our daily lives has now influenced our way of thinking, our way of living, our interactions with different kinds of people. Yes, it is still entirely different from the real world what we can see in the virtual world. While a certain number of people cannot separate their online life from reality and often create a world of their own when they are in social networking sites as a means of escape from their boredom or routinely life. Anyone can pretend to be someone they are not while interacting online- make fool of some people or trick some to get some money or bully around but their personalities are far different for real.

SONGSOPTOK : In your opinion, has social media contributed to breaking down of traditional rules of social relationships? In what way? How would you analyze the impact of social media in this context?

ELIZABETH:  Social media bridged the barriers of communication as we can see in social networking sites wherein we can meet different kinds of personalities living in different parts of the world. We can now learn about other countries’ culture and language without leaving the four corners of our room. We can even conduct business or work at home conveniently without the many hassles of commuting which takes a lot of our time each day. Creating or finding relationships on the Net is also common nowadays despite the qualms of some who do not believe that one can find love online.

SONGSOPTOK :  Do you believe that social media can play a constructive role for world peace and unity? Or on the contrary play a totally negative role by fuelling existing conflicts between nations and communities?

ELIZABETH:  I do believe that social media can play a great role in propagating world peace and harmony. With the Net’s accessibility, people from all walks of life and even in the far corners of the world can promote their peace advocacy using the different social media platforms made available to us. A good example would be a group of writers, poets, and artists who just met online united by a common goal of sending out peace by collaborating on the making of a global anthology- they cannot simply do this without the aid of the social networking sites like Facebook or Google Plus. While there are pros to the role of social media for world peace and unity, there are also corresponding cons which go with it. Posting different advocacies on world peace online may sometimes create if not spark up some conflicts among different groups for they have diverse set of beliefs. In this case, it has something to do with the political, social or religious beliefs of some. But “respect begets respect” as they say. We just need to learn how to respect each other to avoid conflicts from arising.

SONGSOPTOK : How effective can be the role of social media as a tool of protest and action against all sorts of social ills and injustices?

 ELIZABETH: I strongly believe that social media had become a powerful tool of expressing people’s different set of views and beliefs over some matters involving social, political, and religious issues and controversies plaguing the world these days. Social media had become an accessible avenue to practice one’s freedom of expression though some are not responsible enough to act decently by posting improper statuses which might provoke if not malign others with opinions different from theirs. Online petitions against some inhuman practices and other malpractices have also become powerful platforms to air one’s side and to stage a “silent and peaceful protest’ compared to violent street demonstrations. I am a regular signee of “Change.org” by the way.

SONGSOPTOK : Lastly, we would like to know the impact of social media, if any, in your own life. What kind of journey has it been? What are your own expectations about the evolution of social media?

 ELIZABETH:  Like what I have mentioned in my previous answers to some of the first questions above, I owe a big part of my international writing career to social media – I started my career posting my works on social networking sites, been a member of writing groups, co-authored more than 60 (and counting) international anthologies in the USA, Canada, UK, India, Romania, and Africa, and published my two international books because I met the right connections on Face Book. A major part of my success and accomplishments were done using social media platforms.


ELIZABETH ESGUERRA CASTILLO IS A MULTI-AWARDED PROFESSIONAL WRITER/CREATIVE WRITER/JOURNALIST/POET/ EDITOR FROM THE PHILIPPINES. SHE HAS PUBLISHED 2 INTERNATIONAL BOOKS, "SEASONS OF EMOTIONS" (UK) AND "INNER REFLECTIONS OF THE MUSE" (USA) AND CO-AUTHORED MORE THAN 60 INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGIES IN THE USA, CANADA, UK, ROMANIA, INDIA, AND AFRICA. SHE IS A MEMBER OF PEN INTERNATIONAL, AMERICAN AUTHORS ASSOCIATION (AAA), AND ASIA PACIFIC WRITERS AND TRANSLATORS (APWT).




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