By Kezo Andre Javier 

Cartoon by Billy Abistado

As everyone returned to work after the holiday break, social media figure Donnalyn Bartolome gained traction – albeit for the wrong reasons – for her comments on feeling ‘sad’ for going back to work. In a now-deleted Facebook post, Bartolome said that instead of sadness, people should feel grateful that they have a job to provide for their families. While it is one thing to boost morale and spread positivity among followers, it is an entirely different story when one starts invalidating real-life experiences that are lived by the very same people they want to cheer up.

In the same Facebook post, Bartolome highlighted that ‘having a job is a blessing’ in itself. Given the current state of the economy where inflation is accelerating, it surely gives a sense of security to have something to provide your needs. However, as influencer Janina Vela put it, being grateful for getting to work is not everything. While one’s work brings positivity in their lives, it does not automatically mean that they do not have a right to feel sad and tired from working.

Still on sadness at work, Donnalyn expressed hopes that everyone whose work makes them unhappy finds one that will. It is easy to say that one only needs to find the job that would bring them happiness, but reality says otherwise. While latest data shows a decline in the unemployment rate in the country, the underemployment rate rose from 14.2 percent in October to 14.4 percent in November. This means that more and more Filipinos, although they already have jobs, need additional work to provide for their needs. When even those with jobs still need other jobs just to live, it is borderline insensitive to suggest finding other work to avoid unhappiness.

After receiving a huge callout from netizens, Bartolome has already apologized for her ‘wrong choice of words’. In another Facebook post, she argued that her opinion on feeling grateful for work did not come from privilege but rather her experience. To back this up, she posted several pictures of her ‘simple’ life before, from commuting to doing ‘rakets’ to earn. While she may have experienced these things back then, it does not make the statement she made any less wrong.

Social media personalities do have their ways to connect with their followers. For sure, people see something in them that makes them relevant. However, there is also a need for these figures to extend the same courtesy to others and know their plights. They may have the freedom to use their platform in whatever way they want, but they also need to be responsible not to invalidate the feelings of other people. A little more sensitivity will not hurt.