Today’s technology has gone beyond all known borders, barriers and imaginations. It has enabled individuals to connect to the whole world with just a click. The irony is, this quick connection has often resulted in isolation. Social media promotes connecting with people. Yet the likes of Facebook and Twitter actually promote…yourself.
Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” Twitter gives you the freedom to express your thoughts for the world to know. It’s all about you. Your thoughts, your reactions, your feedback, your likes and dislikes, your meal, your location.
This lifestyle can delude you into thinking that the world revolves around you. And when you start believing that, it can lead to superficial relationships and an indifference toward others, thus isolating yourself within the confines of your computer and cell phone.
I’m the superstar
Many young people today live with a mindset that is focused on themselves, whether they acknowledge it or not. It’s easy to give a list of what it looks like when people put themselves on a pedestal, but if you take a look around, you can see it for yourself. There are marriages that implode because a spouse or both spouses seek what they can get from the other rather than what they can give. We live in a nation where numerous public officials seek to increase their financial portfolio through the guise of serving their constituents. This reality, combined with our social media-driven culture, produces young people bent on following the same pattern of self-centeredness.
Take, for example, a privileged kid who gets whatever he wants on demand or through a well-rehearsed outburst. Parents who constantly give in to demands are setting up their kids to be entitled individuals who won’t give a thought to those who get in their way. On the flip side is an underprivileged kid who wants to change his lifestyle by seeking wealth, power and status. Once they get a taste of the “good life,” they can’t help but want more and more without the slightest understanding of genuine contentment.
Think about it, the motivation behind selfish ambition and personal gain, self-centeredness, is quite powerful. The aftermath of being narrow-minded is all too real for most, if not for all of us. But I believe there’s a greater power involved in a motivation that seeks to serve and help others. When one shifts the focus away from himself, it results in a greater impact and wider influence.
Get out of the spotlight
Take Efren Peñaflorida, for example. In 2009, the then 28-year-old became CNN Hero of the Year and a household name because of his efforts to bring the classroom to underprivileged youth. It took him 12 years before he was recognized as a hero, but even when he was a teenager he was already doing heroic deeds. It was at 16 when Efren started the Dynamic Teen Company to keep young people away from street gangs. I believe that Efren Peñaflorida is an example of the potential that young men and women today can achieve and accomplish as well.
Our independence 114 years ago was preceded by the initiative of young Filipinos who looked beyond themselves. After being oppressed for generations, young men decided to put an end to it. Those involved didn’t have much except a desire to bring about change that would benefit not only themselves but their families, neighbors, friends, countrymen and generations to come.
If you are under the age of 25, you represent half of the population in the Philippines. In the next 25 years, you will be in a position that will influence and bring about change in our nation. You can make a difference, but reality is, you can’t do it on your own. You need people who can mentor you, speak life and purpose upon your life. You need experienced men and women to tell you that there is so much you can do with your life so don’t waste it away in apathy. You need people who can directly tell you that you are being selfish, that the world does not revolve around you, and in the same breath, encourage you to live for others and realize your potential.
Imagine the synergy that could take place when the older generation gets involved in the lives of the younger generations. Imagine the future of the Philippines when men and women in positions of leadership and influence across the different sectors of society look beyond themselves toward serving others. That future can become a reality when you start thinking of others and how you can serve and be of help.
The truth is, there is a lot more to gain once you stop living for yourself and start living for others. One of Time magazine’s top 10 heroes of 2009 was 18-year-old Filipino construction worker Muelmar Magallanes. The name may not ring a bell but he was responsible for saving the lives of 30 relatives and neighbors during typhoon “Ondoy’s” wrath. A strong swimmer, he swam back and forth in the floods to rescue whoever was around. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it as he was eventually swept away by the floods’ powerful currents, too tired to save himself. Among those he rescued was a six-month-old girl who is now able to live her life because of Muelmar.
Six years ago, Blake Mycoskie founded the popular shoe brand TOMS after a trip to Argentina exposed him to children roaming the streets barefoot. Knowing they would be susceptible to different health risks, he created TOMS shoes, and donated a pair to a child for every shoe he sold.
There is always something greater to gain when you contribute toward the benefit of others, whether that’s giving a baby girl a second chance at life or footwear to shoeless kids. You may never know the difference you can make in the lives of others until you shift from a me-centered point of view to a mind-set that asks, “How can I make a difference in the lives of others? How can I serve other people?” When that happens, be surprised by the joy that will overwhelm you.
Bojo Bonifacio is the campus director of Lifebox Greenhills, a nationwide campus organization that is passionate about preparing students for LIFE—leadership, integrity, faith and excellence. He enjoys mentoring students, is a huge Manchester United Fan and blogs at www.bojobonifacio.com. Follow him on Twitter @bojobonifacio