Jose Ignacio Maria T. Mendoza | Associate Editor
ALONG WITH THE NEW ADMINISTRATION of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte came several waves of politically-inclined social media posts and dedicated blogs. With the supporters of the president continuously branding mainstream media as “biased and bayaran”; and the anti-Duterte groups labeling them as “Dutertards”; online arguments can be seen regularly on the comments section of every political post in Facebook.
Intensive rebuttals and fact-checking happens daily through different verified and unverified sources. Even satirical websites are being used as a means of backing up their arguments on the internet. A human being capable of critically analyzing events as they develop might ask:
Are these online discussions capable of causing a national crisis?
As a matter of fact, it is.
According to a study from an online news site, about 44 million Filipinos have online connectivity, while 47% of our online time are dedicated to browsing social media pages and news feeds. Trouble brews when you add that to the fact that after the last national elections, Filipinos have openly voiced out different political criticisms borne out of different perspectives.
Different makeshift websites and Facebook pages, both satirical and serious, relentlessly plagued our newsfeeds with the so-called “click-baits” and false headlines. It revealed to be a major problem, since Filipinos, given our natural ‘opinionated’ traits, tend to share and declare their own views on the matter as something conclusive. We do not put an effort to know the whole truth and contemplate on the issue.
Being politically up to date is a civil responsibility, but being politically correct is too tricky especially nowadays. In today’s internet age, people get branded and shamed instantly when one posts either pro or anti-Duterte sentiments. Though the problem may exhibit itself as merely an “online” harm, the bigger problem lies within the division of our nation.
FOR A CHANGE | People in a recent rally might not really show hostile actions and words towards the government, but the whole nation is still in disarray. (Photo by Joel Fernandez)
We engage in an egotistical battle, shaming through ad hominem attacks, and ridiculous, baseless accusations from each side. Both parties, not wanting to listen to and see the other side’s point of view, assume almost instantaneously that the opposing idea is wrong. While it is clearly an advancement that we now actively take part in the politics of our country, but as always, shoving one’s perspective down another’s throat is not a way to share ideas. Supporting Duterte — or any president for that matter — does not mean that you must agree with all of his moves. Supporting him means scrutinizing his plans, policies, and orders before deciding to move forward with him.
However problematic the situation with the supporters and critics of the new administration, maybe, the real problem comes with us, being a fragmented country. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.
“I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free,” Lincoln stressed in his well-known nomination speech for the Republican senatorial slate in 1858.
Although we are no longer slaves to another country, we are enslaved by our own prejudice and bigotry.