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The Virtual Hygge Generation: One Pixelated World to be in
24. July 2018 at 23:08
How often are you using your social media accounts? Have you ever experienced seeing unsavory posts or news online? How do you respond to it? All these questions and more are mind-boggling rhetorics that we often flip and twist inside our minds hoping to understand what the role of the digital world is in real life. Are we simply users of technology or being used by technology?
At any given time, my mind drifts back to the day I was sent to Denmark as the official youth delegate of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines to the Spedjernes Lejr 2017 or Jamboree Denmark 2017. Winds burned icily on my face, it was humid but also cold like opening a refrigerator on a cool day. But as I trudge along the trail, the wind became a soothing sensation to the otherwise drenching and arduous walk before reaching the camp. My line of thoughts stopped because I realized I was not alone. I could hear footfalls and heavy breaths matching next to mine of people I have yet to see. And when curiosity got the better of me, I looked behind and saw tons of Scouts walking and engaging in a lively, animated conversation. The winds with its icy touch and the gray clouds have hidden instantly behind the ray of sunshine emanating from these people. The scene became a blur of color, of life and of everything positive in the world. It was enriching and soul-stirring. It felt real because everything I saw was as sincere as reality could offer. It was hygge.

Hygge and Denmark are two interchangeable words. One could not exist without the other. It has since been accompanied by the words ‘and’ or ‘or’ but never ‘nor’. Denmark is not just a Scandinavian country placed at the tip of Germany; it is also one of the happiest countries in the world. And it accredits its people’s generally happy outlook to one peculiar source – hygge. Hygge, pronounced as hue - guh, is a Danish word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary but it is always cozy, charming or special. In a more simplified meaning, it is being comfortable interacting and being around other people. How to experience the best of Denmark, you may ask? Experience hygge.

But as much as it is a Danish word and emotion shared by the Danish realm, hygge is for all nations. It is not exclusively Danish as some would like to believe, it is a feeling that should be shared by every person regardless of race, gender or status because hygge allows you to see the best in people, to relate to them, to share their hopes and aspirations and to inspire and be inspired by them in return. And to be frank, I’ve seen hygge everywhere even in the Philippines. However as much as hygge, is something done in communio, it has also decreased in numbers by the numbers. People nowadays refuse to even smile at their neighbor much less the stranger in the subway due to the fact that we would rather reserve this certainty of pleasantries for a much wider audience, one that does not need to see how you react while spreading it out into the open – social media.

Social media is technology’s baby. It is the point of going beyond what is possible during the 1990s such as the snail mail and voice recorders while giving an identity to the current generation. On a deeper level, it is defined as computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. Are you familiar with the iconic phrase, “What’s on your mind”? Do you believe that filters make a photo look better in a feed? Or that 280 characters are not enough for a single tweet? Well then, welcome to the world of social media. Hand in hand with technology, it becomes a part of the ever-growing digital universe.

Notice, however, I intentionally omitted stating what impact it has made in our world. And this boils down to appraise its benefits and unfortunate drawbacks.

Any veteran user would acknowledge why social media beats anything that has to do with manual methods like letter writing, sending out invites for events, setting up posters to promote your brand or even handing out flyers due to the fact that social media offers three Cs, convenience (for example, mass online invitation to events), constructive outputs (like blogs with opinions and insights or brand promotion) and connection (such as talking to people who you have not seen for a long time). In my case, social media became a means to reconnect with my Danish friends along with other nationalities when I came back home or to talk with distant relatives about my trip to the European continent as well as to share photos on the highlights of my trip and even get updates about what my classmates did in class.

On the other hand, social media is not what we all paint it to be. Despite it being a bridge for those who’ve experienced missed communication, it can cause miscommunication for some. Often times, it is rampant due to some users going overboard in their posts which can generate negative reactions and comments from others. Furthermore, social media does not pose a safe haven for minors and adults alike due to the presence of criminal activity like hacking or identity theft, pedophiles and cyberbullying and fake news. Cyberbullying can cause detention in jail due to libel or slander such as the case when celebrity stylist Liz Uy filed charges against a certain Michael Lim of the blog site Fashion Pulis who stated that she dressed Maine Mendoza of the AlDub tandem in ‘recycled’ clothing. Social media nowadays aside from commending common citizens, who have done heroic acts, acts as a stage for those who have done unmentionable deeds by defamation. And this is just one of its effects which according to researchers, can also be a conducive stigma for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, can lower self-morale, can develop a self – centered personality and can culture an inability to interact on a personal scale with other people while lessening one's privacy.

In this era where we are divided over social media’s impact on society and our environment, it pays to note that hygge still fits in the pieces. That being kind to others, adhering to your principles and exercising good communication skills, in reality, is still needed. Through a reflection, I’ve learned to update nothing, impress no one and certainly am tempted to delete my accounts because where everything is now overexposed, it is quite cool to maintain your mystery.

And so, whether social media exists as a lovable companion in the midst of boredom or a pain to students trying to burn the midnight oil, only the person in question can tell. It is really a matter of perspective which even in these modern times is distorted by the pixelated world we all try to live in. The only thing we can do is to try to live both lives in equilibrium knowing that reality is and should never be partial in favor of fictional personas and emotions.

If there’s one thing a young person like me who aspires to achieve hygge in a virtual world could share, it would be about making an ordinary day, extraordinary through recognizing simple moments and trying to have a slow, real lifestyle in a busy, digital world.
Cite This Article As: Francine Beatriz Pradez. "The Virtual Hygge Generation: One Pixelated World to be in." International Youth Journal, 24. July 2018.

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