When Social Media Ain’t Sosyal

A friend sent me a text message on the afternoon of October 4, the day when the second Million People March was supposed to have happened.

“Hir na mi, wr na u?” (Translation, “I’m already here, where are you?”)

noemi dado million peso marchI read the message while I was being kneaded and pummeled on a massage chair at the UBMA (blind massage clinic) over on Sta. Lucia East in Cainta.  I thought of replying but decided no to, so it would be plausible to later claim that I didn’t receive his text message and forgot all about going to the second Million People March.

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Yes, I am like that.

I’d trade a social media movement for a good massage any day of the week and the fact that the second Million People March was in Ayala, Makati on a FRIDAY had me thinking, “NO! Just. Hell. No. Because…”

But does that necessarily make me any less indignant about the Pork Barrel Scam?  Perhaps, yes.

I am probably not as indignant as the people who’ve made “indignation” a career of sorts.  Then again, I am not totally unaffected by the Pork Barrel Scam or the illegality/unconstitutionality of the DAP or President BS Aquino’s misguided leadership.

I choose to act in my typical fashion which is to write and talk.  All of my talking and writing about Aquino as well as his pork barrel foibles has convinced about two dozen of my readers to… well… gee…  Come to think of it, none of them really committed to doing anything, but they did agree with me that Aquino is an ass-backwards President.

And after reading BenignO’s latest sure-hit post on Get Real on social media activism, I am now pretty sure that I am part of the statistical mean referred to in this article on the “second screen”:

“It seems, statistics gleaned from the frequency something is mentioned in social media does not correlate strongly with more broad-based measures of popularity and viewership…

“In Philippine politics where public relations consulting and buzz creation is big business, the equivalent of this observation had already been confirmed by the results of the 2013 mid-term elections where candidates vilified by “netizens” and social media “experts” actually emerged at the top of the winners’ heap in terms of number of actual votes attracted.”

Ideally, people on social media should be like Cyrano De Bergerac, in the sense that we should all be able to move people with words and  fight for our causes in real battlegrounds.

That social media” movers” (in the Philippines, at least) doesn’t at all match up with the “Cyrano De Bergerac” ideal is no revelation at all and I knew this as far back as when I was in a political “club” highschool.

In high school, when we campaigned for student causes, our campaigns were met with a lot of polite agreement but little action — save for the ones where we called on our fellow students not to go to class and rally outside the school’s gates.  Most of my fellow students didn’t go to class all right, but only a handful actually rallied.

And in the few times that a large number of students were assembled, it was like that scene in “300” where Leonidas met with the Acadians.

leonidas acadians spartans what is your profession

In that scene, Leonidas asked “Spartans! What is your profession?”  And the 299 behind him shouted, “Awooo! Awooo!” After the shouting died down, Leonidas says “See, I brought more soldiers than you.”

The point is on any issue, there will always be a smaller number of people committed to one side and a proportionate number of people committed to the other side of an issue.  And, in between those two extremes, we have people with varying degrees of commitment and people who are completely uncommitted.

curveWhat it will look like, graphically, is a curve where those strongly committed on either side of an issue will be at the bottom points on either end and those who are not committed are on the apex of the curve.

The battle, really, is for those who have are not aware of the issue and have not made up their minds about it.

The apex of the curve is NOT static and will move nearer to either end over time depending on the number of people who are informed about the issue and the number of people who make up their minds.

I think, that as far as PR or Perception Management is concerned, the simplified and classical illustration of managing perception would be to:

One, convince decision makers to support your side of the issue.  This assumes that they have not yet been informed of the issue and haven’t made up their minds.

Two, make it appear to these decision makers (as well as to a broader audience) that there is a growing base of support for your side of the issue with lower tier decision makers whose aggregate decisions will weigh a lot.

The way I see it, social media fills the second requirement and the whole underlying mechanics of “how” as well as “why” is something people in the know can figure out.

19 Replies to “When Social Media Ain’t Sosyal”

  1. “I am not totally unaffected by the Pork Barrel Scam”

    did you know the money that was scammed from us could be used for education or health? how insensitive of you!

  2. This is the first grp post that made me think, maybe you guys here are really all talk and no walk. It’s ok if you prefer getting a massage rather than going to an assembly but admit that writing a thousand blog entries affects change far less than attending a single rally.

    1. Not that I advocate apathy or “slacker-ism,” but the issue isn’t about how many people attend rallies as opposed to how many people follow you on Twitter and Facebook. It should be about convincing people to your point of view and getting them to act accordingly.

      Instead of going out to snarl traffic on Ayala, you could post a status update on Facebook about an topic dear to your heart. Convincing one of your few hundred friends to take the issue seriously and collaborating on a course of action has just as high, if not higher, a probability than shouting on the streets while waiting for someone — some authority — to tell you what to do.

      Either option is likely to be a more effective vehicle for change than the futility of using the ballot as a medium of political transformation in the Philippines.

      1. Convincing one of your few hundred friends to take the issue seriously and collaborating on a course of action has just as high, if not higher, a probability than shouting on the streets while waiting for someone — some authority — to tell you what to do.

        I’ve been doing that since 2009 with most of my friends who are staunch Aquino supporters. Unfortunately, some of them think that I am just being too negative. They think Facebook should be exclusive to “happy” thoughts. They simply ignore my attempts at bringing up serious issues.

        It’s funny how protesting in the Philippines is now considered “baduy”. No other place on earth sees protesting against corruption in this light. Blame it on Cory Aquino’s excessive use of people power revolts while she was alive. Seriously, it could be because some people consider protest rallies as a failure when a single event does not immediately result in the change they are hoping for. Did Gandhi give up that easily? The answer is no. He even went on a hunger strike.

        Rallying just like picketing is a form of protest to draw awareness to a cause. It doesn’t have to result in someone’s ouster and it doesn’t have to have one million protesters present to be effective. Unfortunately, rallies really have to be disruptive to gain attention.

        Having said that, there wouldn’t be a need for rallies if Filipinos vote wisely.

        1. Ilda,

          That just emphasizes the fact that there is a deeper malaise than the Filipino’s inability to do some critical thinking or a failure to vote wisely. That being the case, neither course of action — (non-violent) movements and social media activism — will generate any significant result.

          In the Philippines, the holding of rallies and protest marches to draw attention to an issue is diminished in value because over the past 27 years, Filipinos have ROMANTICISED them. We’ve come to think of “People Power” as the “magic bullet” to effect change, with the expectation that transforming the nation will be instantaneous if enough people start marching in the streets. But you rarely see these people involved in the messy job of nation building afterward.

          On the other hand, social media activism isn’t taking root in the Philippines the way it has in Europe, the United States, North Africa and in the Middle East if as you point out Filipino users insist on relegating Facebook to “happy” posts.

          What needs to be answered then is: WHY do Filipinos behave this way? Answer that and you solve the problem of development in the Philippines.

        2. @Johnny Saint

          I believe the term you are looking for is ningas kugon. That phenomenon has been discussed here at GRP so many times in the past. In other words, there is no follow-through in a lot of things most Filipinos do. Whether the event was successful in toppling a “dictator” or not, Filipinos lose interest in things very quickly. Passion is missing in our DNA, it seems. Most easily get distracted by trivial things because most just want to be “happy” all the time. They do not have foresight. They are incapable of planning ahead.

          Despite being ignored by most of my friends who are staunch PNoy supporters, I do not let that stop me from expressing my views. You see, I believe in the concept of inception. They might be resistant to my views now, which they consider “radical”, but I know that when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan, the information they put at the back of their heads will resurface eventually. It will help them come to the realisation about PNoy’s true colours.

          So my point is, despite the seeming “failure” of the rallies to effect changes, advocates should not give up. All this noise on the streets and on the Net is helping. Look, the people got PNoy to promise to abolish PDAF prior to the first million people march, right? Even if it’s half-baked, that’s something. We just all need to be patient because we are fighting people who have access to an enormous amount of money that they use to spread propaganda.

        3. Hi Ilda.

          I do follow the articles that tackle “ningas kugon” in Filipino society. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting the value (non-violent) protest movements have in effecting political and social change. I agree that in order for these changes to be maintained, we need to constantly work at them. Our own experience as well as the events in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia attest to that.

          That isn’t what I wanted to point out. “Ningas kugon” describes an attitude, a behaviour that Filipinos tend to fall back on. Something that we’ve been criticising for as long as I can remember. It’s a symptom of what’s wrong in Filipino culture. Along with the tendency to be distracted by the trivial, the “lack of passion” and the “bahala na” attitude that dissuades Filipinos from planning ahead.

          When we pinpoint flaws in Filipino character and the “disease” in Philippine culture, the criticism is pretty spot on. However, I think we haven’t isolated the underlying cause(s) of these traits which have proven to be detrimental to our quest for a better quality of life. I believe finding the roots of that affliction will put us on the way to solving the Filipino problem.

        4. We can phrase the question this way:

          Why do we Filipinos in our own country behave in a manner that causes us to fail?

          Why can’t we follow through? (“Ningas kugon.”) Why can’t more Filipinos manifest their passion about an issue and commit themselves enough to take a stand? Why do most of us focus on trivialities? Why do so many Filipinos lack the foresight to plan ahead? (“Bahala na.”)

        5. The answer is quite simple. Filipinos are just misguided. They think they need to be happy all the time. They think that being serious is too corny and too negative. Every time I post an article on Facebook, I notice that it is usually followed by a post from some of my friends with “everything happens for a reason” or “It is God’s will”. Never mind that a lot of the man-made disasters that happen in the Philippines is because of lack of critical thinking.

        6. I mean, who doesn’t want to focus on happy thoughts? Almost all of us do. However, there are times when we need to focus on issues that plague the nation because if we don’t, it will keep coming back to bite us. Yes, tackling problems could eat up people’s chill out time but a little sacrifice will go a long way. We, as a people cannot pat ourselves on the back before we solve the country’s problems.

        7. Someone shared this at the GRPcommunity. It is proof that protesting on the streets is a universal tool against abuse of power and that a lot of people in other societies are passionate enough to face violence or jail participating in it: The Global Suppression of Protest. Some excerpts:

          “History tells us that many of the fundamental rights we enjoy today were obtained after generations before us engaged in sustained protests in the streets: the prohibition against child labor, steps toward racial equality, women’s suffrage – to name just a few – were each accomplished with the help of public expression of these demands. If freedom of expression is the grievance system of democracies, the right to protest and peaceful assembly is democracy’s megaphone. It is the tool of the poor and the marginalized – those who do not have ready access to the levers of power and influence, those who need to take to the streets to make their voices heard.”

    2. I’ve always thought that formally petitioning decision makers is the smarter way of getting things done. But do go right ahead and have these cute street picnics if you think it will get decision makers to do whatever it is you want them to do.

      1. Maybe I’m not informed but have formal petitions really worked? It’s like all these online petition stuff (change.org) guess what, Our politicians don’t give a damn if it gets one or one million signs.

  3. off topic but social
    dailymail.uk has great photo of jeane napoles in a bath of 1000 dollar bills – incredible!
    good job that never reached the media here.
    philippine corruption and the napoles lifestyle of greed and trash now gone international.
    uk looking to stop all aid to corrupt jungle bunnies.

  4. We cannot evaluate the feelings of the people, regarding the Pork Barrel scams done by Aquino and his cahoots, thru the exponential curves.
    We are all outrage, because they used our tax money, for political purposes to consolidate their control of the government.

    1. Anyone who had that amount would do the same, the sad thing is that money isn’t theirs to begin with.

      I guess the only justice I see is if they get put in jail(which is unlikely), or if they get killed or they die(that is a possibility and no one is immune to death).

      Some way, somehow, somebody is gonna pay, and somebody is gonna get their ass kicked.

      Sadly for the Philippines, tuloy ang gapang sa tuwid na daan. Gapang Philippines 2013 and Beyond….

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