Modern Idolatry and the Social Media

Two days after April Fools’ Day and I am still reeling in from the bitter truth that we are living in the days of a perpetual practical joke, with the general public being its perennial victims. Where jokes usually end in laughter, the Filipinos are on apparent overdose. It is a subtle and addictive substance that helps us cope with our realities. It is said that the Filipino could laugh and smile over any catastrophe; this is perhaps one of our greatest strengths. The realities behind the veil of illusion however are no laughing matter at all! Our society needs to wake up to confront the bigger issues that surround us rather than be preys to the whims of those who control our thoughts and behavior.

high-fructose-corn-syrup-lewinOver the Holy Week, I found great privilege in witnessing one of the greater Roman Catholic traditions: The Procession. In this timeless tradition, the saintly idols parade the streets of the Philippines. A procession tells the story of Christ’s final days on Earth in graphic detail; a storyboard rendered in hyper-reality. Taken individually the idols played a specific role in the crucifixion story and more importantly, each idol character embodies the roles, character and ideals that they represent. It is a lesson on what we ought to be. The idols are reminders of our Christian forebears, who we are and how we ought to live our lives according to tangible examples.

Looking back at Classical History, mythology was exemplified in sculpture with Gods and Demigods that served as literal embodiments of superhuman qualities in tangible folklore (lessons attached as well). Idols help us see the better side of ourselves against the facts of our flaws and frailties. When someone exhibits excellent qualities or skills to emulate, it is easy for us to say that he or she is our idol. Idols are part of our vocabulary, but where does admiration and emulation end and idolatry begin? Ironically, it begins when the idols become an end by themselves.

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Idols and Icons are cultural creations. They serve to represent our ideas and beliefs. Idols render a human face to the ideas we espouse. They serve as a relatable and sometimes better image of ourselves. To love them is to love ourselves and the ideal. This however is now far from the idols of today. Can we really ascribe to the modern idols that we created for ourselves? Could our Golden Calf lead us to our Promised Land? Could our Sacred Cows lead us towards the path of National Enlightenment, Restoration and Reconstruction?

From Gods to Prophets, Heroes to Thought leaders, Basketball Stars and Charlatans, we “Follow” and “Like” them all (pun intended). Modern Idols thrive on popularity votes. The more they have, the more powerful they become. That’s how we made them to be. Does that make them right? Or have we become victims of “The Crowd Wave” – perhaps caught within the grand gesture of herd mentality? We have become victims of our own idolatry. We let them lead us even when they are used to distract us from the real issues. At times we venerate them for making bold statements only for them to later mislead us with lies once their popularity has been established. The social media empowers them to say anything. The problem lies once we put them on a pedestal whereby their mere presence or image enchants us, and their own opinions (true or false) become truths.

We wallow in this farce that we have made to amuse ourselves. Here are a few facts on this phenomenon:

  • Kim Kardashian has more than 17 Million followers on Twitter….. WHY?
  • Nicki Minaj is American Idol’s Judge over talent. An even bigger WHY!!

The mysteries to the their success still boggles me, but realizing the manipulation of the media (social media included with emphasis), it is very easy to understand. We don’t even have to look overseas to see blatant examples.

  • Kris Aquino makes accusations of overt sexual advances perpetrated by one of her exes, grants a very public interview and announces her retirement from showbiz. Kris takes the media’s center stage over more important issues such as Sabah with its death toll swept under the rug.
  • Chiz and Heart make it to the headlines (Romantic Picture and all) with their Love Life and her parent’s detailed disapproval featured. This takes precedence over his political platform and other national issues. What a stunt!

The general public laps it up for their amusement, only to leave a few still asking about what happens beyond these superficial and misleading issues.

The social media also lends itself to the creation of our own demigods with some of its charlatans making bold, often visual and even perverse messages to court our attention. While bold statements (some of which I agree with) always garner the “Likes” and “Follows”, one needs to be more discerning with what is being served. Let us separate message from the messenger, the truth apart from the deception.

We have created these monstrous social idols of today reflective of what we aspire to be or perhaps what we want to excuse ourselves of being. Nonetheless the social media empowers us to speak our minds openly and to multiply our message among like-minded people. It is one of our greatest human achievement, as well as our Tower of Babel. With such great freedom, much more is required of us. While many have no thoughts of having you believe that WD-40 is made from fish oil, perhaps most of us would care enough to speak and embrace the truth as Freedom demands from us.


12 Replies to “Modern Idolatry and the Social Media”

  1. Modern day equivalent of sacrificing your children by fire to Baal: letting them watch these retards and imitate their example.

    1. We’re doing it everyday by turning on the TV and going to the malls! I wish there were more public parks that were safe and entertaining. Perhaps that would be a better use of time?

  2. Nicky Minaj, stick a …never mind! Truly a skank.

    I would really like to see someone stroll into a bank, flip a table, that has with piles of money on it, over. thus spilling all the money all over the floor and then scream at the top of his lungs,
    “NOT IN MY FATHERS’ HOUSE!”. HHMMM, would the consequences for that person be as bad as if someone did that, say, 2000 yrs. ago? IDK.

  3. Nicki can rap and change personae at a drop of a hat for sure, but she’s not the one to do something “normal” by today standards. I believe the reason why Nicki is signed to be a judged is mainly to counter Mariah Carey’s personality, and to have a sort of “diva-off” in the show for publicity and ratings. Although my friends say that Nicki can sensible and blunt when judging (I don’t watch AI religiously since the fourth season)

    1. True True! Part of the drama I guess. What disturbs me about Nicki is that she seems to have a morphing personality unlike Rihanna and Lady Gaga or even Beyonce. All whom have their own musical and style signature.

  4. IMHO one of the problem is because most of us loves watching TV or don’t have anything better to do. Even if they don’t like the program, they will still watch it due to the reason that there isn’t any better program/s or they have nothing to do.

    Ask around and most Filipinos will find Discovery Channel, National Geographic and History Channel boring. And since most of us prefer watching showbiz programs, then the media outlets will produce it as they are after rating and not content.

    1. With that said, I still dont have a cable connection in my household…it’s the year 2013 for crying out loud? and I’m forced to subscribe to a satellite provider for more pesoses so that my poor kids wouldn’t watch noontime shows and telenovelas. Point is, there is not much good TV shows with which you can expose yourself and kids to. Not unlike the dreaded “evil dictator’s” time that I find watching TV more appropriate way back when I was till a kid.

      And oh, they didn’t have to dub english shows/movies in tagalog….that’s really stupid. Watching Spongebob in tagalog..sheeesh!!!

  5. It is indeed true. We have to be discerning of what is being served on the table. Behind every news, every pronouncements of certain personalities and even that of peoples in power, we have to exercise good judgement and critical thinking.

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