Just when we think “civil society” has gotten up to speed with regard to the concept of regarding politics and our politicians with a critical mind, we are still arrested by the familiar sight of the lemming-like behaviour of people who merely follow self-described “heroes” and dance to the tune of those who beat the loudest drums.
For so long, the Philippines’ “thought leaders” have scratched their heads, wondering why despite the advent of “freedom” in the aftermath of the 1986 Edsa people power “revolution” and the implementation of governance infrastructure and institutionalised frameworks to channel this freedom into a systematic selection process of the nation’s leaders, we still see a nation muddling along in abject mediocrity.
Why, for example, do people still fall for no-substance slogans, unfulfillable promises, and the colourful songs-and-dances of charlatans?
The answer lies in the character of the average Filipino mind. We need to ask ourselves some hard questions. Are Filipinos trained to think, or are they conditioned to follow?
Perhaps this is the reason no significant change in the campaign style of Filipino politicians will be seen over the foreseeable future. The style quite simply works. Flash enough colours, dish out enough sound bites, make enough pompous assertions, and rack up enough media exposure and you will get the votes. Indeed, the very “activists” who mount indignation campaigns against politicians’ premature â€œepalâ€ campaigns are in bed with fellow “activists” who mount circus acts that rival if not trump the spectacles of even the most flamboyant of the crop of candidates in any given election.
To every Kris Aquino in politics, there will always be a counterpart clown in the Philippine “activist” scene today and a horde of fans behind him just as starstruck as any fan of the Media Queen. Social media and its so-called “practitioners” make all that easy. Making it even easier is the multitude of characters who inhabit discussion forums in social networks eager to make a big enough blip in the radar screens of their favourite social media celebrity. Tagging and comment threads make that easy for the average wannabe.
It’s easy indeed. While all these social media “practitioners” crow about the power they’ve taken away from “traditional” media, little do they know that they’ve also acquired the same power to create the same celebrity abominations we love to laugh at in between morsels of chicharon and swigs of San Miguel Beer. So if there is a call to “traditional” media to police themselves, perhaps the same could be said of the Philippines’ social media scene. Look no further than the horde who now snap the Nazi salute at every “status update” made by one costumed “social media” bozo or the other. Even Kris Aquino would be at awe.
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