I woke up to my Facebook timeline with all sorts of opinions, arguments and analysis about the gathering of Iglesia ni Cristo members in EDSA. In social media, everything has something to say. If I’m reading it right, many have become overnight experts as well. This should be a healthy indication of democracy, right? But everything in excess is always harmful.
And this has gotten out of hand.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about this. People will forget the words of our arguments or the exact thoughts of what we said. But they will not forget how it made them feel. We tend to focus on the logic of our arguments — trying to win the debate, trying to make our opponents feel ignorant or stupid. We should not lose sight that highly charged emotions are at play here. This has been a challenging time for various sides of this ongoing story. Tempers have been flaring. Defense mechanisms have been on red alert for days already.
Before anyone can proceed with any discussions of separation of state and church, it is only valid and timely to first ask ourselves if we know how to draw the line between decency and bullying.
Shroud of Anonymity
What’s both good and bad about the Internet is that netizens can remain faceless and even nameless here. We can say anything we want, really. But like any other technology, the world wide web is just merely a tool. Whether this medium can accomplish positive or negative results, it all depends on who is wielding it. The irresponsible ones can easily resort to cyber bullying. Some even create fake profiles to bash and troll their online enemies infinitely.
So you said something I don’t agree with? Receive all these curse words I collected since the day I learned how to talk! So you said something bad about what I deeply believe in? Here, I’ll call you names, stupid. You know nothing, ignorant dimwit.
But didn’t we learn manners in school? Insults and other hurtful words that we don’t normally say in front of other people have no place in online posts. Decency is an underrated virtue nowadays. Sadly, there are people who have misplaced theirs. I sincerely hope you’re not one of them.
Although there have been film criticisms that the five characters in the animated movie Inside Out are simplistic portrayals of our complex emotions, it’s a good place to see where all the negativity from this situation may be coming from — regardless whether you’re an INC member or not.
It may start with a hint of sadness. Why does all of this have to happen? It quickly morphs to fear. What should I do next? What will happen if I don’t do anything? And then disgust enters the picture after you see points of view that may not fit with your own. You wonder why they don’t get your perspective. It can be quite frustrating. Anger can then fully take over. It’s hard to determine what will happen next once you unleash your rage. For the most part, things may only worsen when you lose control. The worst part is when you feel joy after you’ve said words that may have embarrassed or hurt another person, online or in real life.
We’re all better than this, I would like to believe. Please don’t post anything in your social media accounts when intensely angry or anxious. Never generalize people as well.
Never resort to name calling. Always show respect. Be kind to others. These were all lessons during our pre-school years. But as we grow older and angrier, why are these insights harder to embody?
Yet we should all be responsible for everything we will say or post. And remember, everything can be permanent in the Internet, even if you delete it. If you thought carefully about your post, you’ll be proud of it in the future. If you didn’t, it can be a specimen of stupidity that other generations can dissect endlessly. This situation may only be temporary. But I’m sure there are insights that we will permanently remember after all this is over. Maintain the higher moral ground, regardless of what others (including bullies) may do or say to you.
[Entry 95, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Bam Alegre is the founder of SubSelfie.com and writes from time to time as a guest contributor. He is a News Reporter for GMA News (2012) and an Instructor for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the East (2015). He was also part of the team that won GMA News the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for the news coverage of super typhoon Yolanda (2013). Previously, he worked behind the scenes as a Segment Producer for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho and 24 Oras (2009-2012). He is also the vocalist, pianist and guitarist of the band No Parking (2005). BA Broadcast Communication 2007, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.