So called social media “activists” these days seem all about putting someone down. For example, when Cynthia Villar called out the problem of eating so much rice, people just started ranting angrily against her, instead of bringing up more intellectual objections and pertinent suggestions. Another is peppering people who supported Rodrigo Duterte or Donald Trump with insults and trolling. Or when someone says, they are not really into supporting the LGBT movement (but will not oppose it either), they also get peppered with insults, trolling and threats. Makes me wonder if the “activists” are actually serious about causes, or just doing it for the sake of fashion. Because, these days, it’s become cool to attack other people. When they do so, they would feel, as Benign0 used in a title, “awesome.”
Benign0 and other bloggers wrote about it before – that doing the above, being an “SJW (social justice warrior)” is mostly treated as a fashion statement. One follower of this blog mentioned a good term for it – virtue signaling. You might find it this true even in other countries. People like to join outrage fads against martial law, call for someone to be pilloried or cry that “human rights” are being violated not because they are serious about causes, but simply, it seems fashionable to them.
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Let’s look at when “activists” shouted “fuck you” to the cadaver of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos as it was laid at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. Of course nothing would happen even if they “make ingay to unbury the bangkay.” Shouting insults accomplishes nothing (especially if it involves shouting at someone who’s already dead). But they do it because it seems fashionable to do so. Some Facebook posters were seen talking about joining the protests as “trip lang.”
Perhaps some are serious about their advocacy, but do not know the better steps for supporting it. The contrast highlighted by fellow blogger Paul Farol about the difference between Olivier Ochanine’s and Carlos Celdran’s methods showed who the real activist was here. Ochanine took the better step of opening dialogue rather than trying to attack or shame the other party.
There is also the angle of activists being character assassins. All they’re out to do is attack others and bring them down for some reason. Maybe they just hate people who have a different or opposing idea. But of course, there is the suspicion that they were tasked to do these.
Some of these people complain about “fake news,” but in fact, they might be the ones spreading fake news. That should make you wonder: why does fake news exist? Because it was probably made up as part of character assassination efforts. It’s also stupidly ironic when they want other people shut up because differing opinions threaten their “freedom of speech” – what?
They likely also want impunity. They hate it when they are unable to insult or put down people without consequences. They are unable to “get away” with making a perceived enemy miserable for the infantile purpose of “feeling good.” But in this sense, they are actually very much like the politicians they profess to criticize.
About the character assassin angle, they might actually be cozying up to politicians while denying it for special favors. As I have said in another article, they are control freaks who want to control others to get what they want, and those who refuse their desires, they shame by painting the other person as a bad guy. Advocacies are used as disguises and ammunition for attacking another. For example, they can claim to be an anti-Marcos activist, and when someone disagrees with their opinion about something else, they publicly brand their perceived opponent as pro-Marcos (gives another dimension to Godwin’s Law; it’s not only Hitler now, but Marcos). In that case, they are not true-blue activists, but trolls.
On effects, it actually makes the people attacked appear more like victims. The antics of “hipster activists” and SJWs might actually be driving people more to the far right or alt-right. This is why Mike Cernovich, despite his conspiracy theory leanings, might be right when he implies mainstream journalists are bent on disabling others who don’t agree with their views. Some activists and journalists aligned with them are bent on controlling people’s opinion and shutting down those with independent and differing opinions. Such people are not for the greater good; they are instead after their own interests. This is a problem that has been acknowledged by journalists themselves in many books and writings.
Fashion is often about ego. Perhaps so-called activists I described evolved this way. Using an example from my article about beauty (which was about the folly of “fashion” at all), one could start out as someone seeking approval from the world. She demands that everyone call her beautiful and sing praises. Disagreement is banned. Or else, out comes the charges of “bully” or “troll,” attempts to shame and the claim that her rights are being violated. There might even be an attempt to get the dissenter arrested. But in truth, that egoistic person is the one violating another person’s rights to be true to oneself and refuse to play along with someone’s undeserved vanity.
So what if they treat “causes” like fashions? There’s nothing wrong with it, right? Wrong, because it makes such things fake! If you just treat a cause as a fashion, you’re not really serious about it. You’re just another of those attention seekers trying to please hormones with vanity.
One of the greatest myths is that something “fashionable” is always cool. Far from the truth, actually; because people can find it fashionable to hate something, criticize something with little reason backing it up, or shame someone. People can do wrong things to others for the sake of fashion. After all, doesn’t fashion have the goal of outdoing the other? People ought to do less of making fashion statements, because they are unessential to life after all. And encouraging people to have fashion statements is all about selling products to them, really.
Treating causes, ideas and ideologies as fashions is just another dumb thing that just has to go. It leads to people not taking better causes seriously, because the “fashion” activists made them look bad. Real activists should probably stop trying to put a “coolness factor” into causes, because causes are not meant for ego or self-image, but for achieving a specific objective, such as protecting bloggers’ right against being shut down or getting more benefits for people with disabilities. Perhaps some “activists” are actually all about putting in “coolness” in order to draw in numbers of followers, instead of reaching out to people who actually have the influence and power to do things. By that, you can surmise that they might not really be serious about their causes. They are not helping society change, they’re helping society dislike change even more.
It’s time real activists pause a while and check if they’re doing things right. They may have to police their ranks. They have to screen out the weasels, even if these may be friends. Real activists don’t shame others, but take action and get results. It’s done not by taking people down, but by inviting and involving them. Shaming others isn’t action at all; it’s just immature prattling. Thankfully, shaming by activists is wearing off these days, because many people are seeing how dumb it is. One gay person, for example, says shaming anti-gay people isn’t “OK anymore” (but it never really was). They are realizing the futility of being hostile and coercive, and hopefully, all sides can go back to discussing issues calmly like real people.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.