Philippine blogging and social media in the time of President Rodrigo Duterte

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Now that the smoke belched by Election 2016 has cleared people seem to be reflecting on what just happened. It seems some of them have taken to taking stock of the social media landscape to try to make sense of and possibly shed light into what exactly got into Filipino voters’ heads.

The underlying thinking fuelling this stocktake remains a partisan one that can be encapsulated in the question:

How in the world did a man like Rodrigo Duterte get elected and how, despite billions spent by the Liberal Party on the campaign did Mar Roxas lose massively and Leni Robredo merely tie with Bongbong Marcos??

The search for “blame” for this “travesity” of the Philippines’ hallowed “democracy” has led some to believe that it was some sort of concerted disinformation campaign organised from the grassroots and propagated via social media that was responsible for this outrage. Observers now lament that memes and other “misleading” content have flooded Filipino voters’ screens and contaminated their impressionable minds.

Perhaps.

But it is interesting to note that most of those who gnash their teeth over the rise of these “alternative” sources of truth were, themselves, the very media mavens and “thought leaders” who championed the concept of the free market of ideas back when the “power” of social media dawned upon them. Indeed, we find amongst those who are now screaming bloody “propaganda” in fits of girly tweets are the very personalities that reaped scores of “bloggy awards” and “most influential” this-and-that badges of honour over the last decade and a half. Many amongst them had also styled themselves social media “experts” and promptly launched “consulting” businesses to educate politicians and celebrities on how to craft a winning “digital presence”.

A market, however, has an annoying habit of moving in ways that cannot be foreseen — specially one that is free. Filipinos obviously gravitated to a certain school of thought that was, as we see now, the anti-thesis of all the “polite” and “civil” thinking these now-traditional social media mavens and “thought leaders” espoused. The result makes for interesting times. The feeling is more real now and less pretentious. Prevailing thinking now emanates from the fringes and grassroots rather than from the iPads of the usual who’s-whos tapping away in their ivory towers in Loyola Heights or while sipping lattes (and guzzling free bandwidth) at the local Starbucks.

If people bother to actually do that stocktake of the media landscape, they will actually notice where they went wrong.

For one thing, their counterparts in the blogging community dropped the ball. We at Get Real Post, for example, are starting to feel the lonesomeness of being at the top of the blogging food chain. Unlike our former competitors (many of whom are now defunct or whose founders are spending their days issuing 140-character snippets of drivel on Twitter), we thrive on competition and concerted efforts to prove us wrong coming from the mainstream.

What the “civil” camp of this once-competitive blogging landscape did was form themselves into like-minded cliques and cocooned themselves within their own inbred thinking. Indeed, some of them encourage their friends to block or “unfriend” (on Facebook) people who share or propagate content from alternative sources outside of the mainstream (or outside of their mutual-highfivin’ cliques). The trouble with that attitude is that you cut yourself out of the loop of arguments and thinking that may actually help you further refine and strengthen your own position. In my personal case, I have observed that I actually learn more from people whose views differ from mine than from people who agree with me.

The key here is diversity. People bandy around the term but few actually know its real value nor practice its core principles. When you remove diversity from your set of friends and your social media feeds (by blocking or “unfriending” those who differ to your views or even post what you deem to be objectionable content), you do yourself a disservice.

If the victory of Duterte and Marcos at the polls came as a surprise — or, rather, a shock — to the members of these mainstream, “civil”, and Jesuit-educated cliques in Philippine society, it is probably because they were the very folks who, instead of extending the scope of their social media radars, shrunk into the comfort zones of their little cliques of like-minded kumpares and kumares and stayed there over the last six years.

Now that a so-called “strongman” is President, it is important that the Philippine blogosphere be invigorated by healthy competition. It’s not that anything has really changed. Politicians still need to be kept honest, injustices need to be called out, and new ideas need to be conceived. You cannot do that when you take heed of bozos who claim some sort of perverse intellectual ascendancy to dictate who or who shouldn’t you follow or be your “friend” on social media.

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11 Comments on “Philippine blogging and social media in the time of President Rodrigo Duterte”

  1. These same bozos who make you unfriend people are the same bozos who crowdsource “facts” from among themselves right?

  2. These morons are simply butt-hurt because the truth being slapped on their faces are just too much for them to handle. Because really, if you really think a site is all air and full of shit, you’d ignore it. The fact that these idiots actually invest a lot of time putting up memes and facebook sites simply to attack GRP and the rest means they really are getting affected.

  3. Reposting again:

    9: Duterte wants a meritocratic, technocratic hiring system for bureau and GOCC employees: “All applicants in bureaus and GOCCs must agree that their names will be published. I will give my staff a limit (deadline) to publish the names, especially those who apply to GOCCs. It will go to the best and the brightest, no political (padrino system)… Huwag kayong manghingi ng endorsement sa politicians. If it comes with one, your application is automatically rejected…If you want an assignment, it should be based on merit…If you’re a smart, then apply. But it doesn’t always work that way because some summa cum laudes are suman-suman (duds). If I can instill in you love of country, then I will know you’ll do your job…You be willing to have your name published in the newspaper. Do not get recommendations from anybody. After all, if something doesn’t work, it’s the president who will have to answer… As long as there’s no parity, you’ll never get good people to work for government.”

    here is the thinkingpinoy.net breakdown of the press conference: http://www.thinkingpinoy.net/2016/05/duterte-digest-service-dds-national-media-guide-duterte.html#more

    Better share this page. don’t rely on ABiaS-CBN, Rappler, GMA and other mainstream media. always check the original source like raw videos on youtube.

  4. Dude, I love what you guys are doin! We Filipinos are born wordsmith we can take a language that is not our own and create art. Art after all is all about communicating images in different forms and the written word is one of them, but to do it in a language that is not inborn into us is damn outright exceptional. You can expose the corrupt nature of this oligarchy establishment through your art and it is your generation that’s going to make this change happen. I’m fully stoked to be alive to see it because every 500 years something big always happens and it’s been 500 years since Magellan. The Philippines is ready for it’s Renaissance, a rebirth and to see beautiful written words being manifested like the ones on this site are God inspired and God’s hands are definitely shaping his chosen people in Asia because HE chose us and God loves us Filipinos. Kudos to you and your site, keep it real, and keep up the good work. From a fellow lover of written words, Paul.

  5. It is a “Free Market of Ideas”…it is competition, on who people will believe, or not to believe.

    The readers, are taught to distinguish, between what is true, and what is false. The Filipinos have been for many years, forced into their heads YellowTard propaganda, thru the TVs, newspapers, radios, etc…they are “Forced Fed”, by these YellowTard propagandists.

    Now, the HyperSpace came. The Blogosphere became an uncharted territory. Where any Filipino, with a computer can Post his or her comments; web article; rebutals; etc…it taught us to think; to evaluate; to learn from each other; to inform our fellow Filipinos; some to misinform, as paid hacks for the political agendas of their political masters. However, I hope, we have grown wise, and have learned a lot!

    Keep on writing! Keep on Blogging! Keep on commenting! Keep on discussing!

    You may call your adversaries: stupid, dumb, nonsense, bastard, paid hack, etc…it is part of the territory. You must be ready to be hit, and to hit back!

  6. If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.

    Behind us, we heard one say, “I like the way you losers thought Instagram before first aid. Fuck off.

  7. One valuable lesson that one learns, invariably, over the years is that. ‘if two people are in agreement in all matters, all of the time, one of them is irrelevant and expendable’.

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