Filipinos’ fixation on “fake news” may be a symptom of an intellectual shortcoming

Media “watchdog” Blogwatch recently posted the article Fake News: 7 Types Of Mis- And Disinformation (Part 1) in which it listed satire and parody among categories of online content it deemed part of the “misinformation ecosystem”. It was suggested that the two genres could be dangerous in the Philippine setting because though its authors may harbour “no intention to cause harm” they have “potential to fool”.

So, should works of satire and parody on the Internet come with warning labels? Perhaps, although such implies that Filipinos are too dumb to discern the subtle humour in these works.

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Noemi Dado who authored the article cited an example of a satire article published on NewsPH claiming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a “no homework” executive order for all Philippine schools. Dado writes that the article “fooled a lot of [her] mommy friends on facebook.”

The question is, do Filipino netizens require a kind of a digital nanny to watch over what they browse on the Net to ensure they are not “fooled” by cleverly-written works of satire?

In his article Why Filipinos Fail to Detect Satire, Get Real Post author Chino proposes that Filipinos are inherently incapable of processing satirical content, perhaps because Filipinos are “too proud to think.”

Chino further writes…

It is even possible for people with high intellectual levels to miss satire as well. There is another reason, one I push to be the greater reason.

This is the tendency to take oneself too seriously and the inability to laugh at oneself. This is explained by Filipinos having such a high level of pride that they are unable to accept being the butt of jokes. Yes, this is true for people of other ethnic and national backgrounds, not just Filipinos. But I believe this attitude is particularly strong within Filipino culture. I consider it bad because it’s connected to another flaw: the unwillingness to accept criticism.

It seems that the Filipino is so pickled in a cocktail of lazy thinking, intellectual dishonesty, and verbose pomposity that, in much the same way he has grown accustomed to life in a household full of servants, he expects to be spoon-fed meaning rather than let his mind do a bit of the heavy lifting involved in harvesting it from the sea of media being piped into his devices daily.

Unfortunately, satire, like most types of dry, sophisticated humour is best served unlabelled. In a society such as the Philippines’ this, indeed, poses potential for trouble given that Filipino consumers of media generally lack the intellectual faculties to process non-literal and non-slapstick entertainment as evident in the way Dado’s “mommy friends” lapped up the “news” about Duterte’s executive order.

As Chino further observes…

As F. Sionil Jose wrote, we are mayabang. As Cito Beltran wrote, ours is not a beautiful mind. And as fellow blogger Gogs consistently writes, pride continues to be a burden that helps us keep our problems unsolved.

It takes a bit of humility to admit to a shortcoming instead of searching for a scapegoat for a failure caused by that shortcoming. Perhaps Filipinos’ fixation on “fake news” is really more about a collective intellectual shortcoming they are, as yet, unable to come to terms with.

9 Replies to “Filipinos’ fixation on “fake news” may be a symptom of an intellectual shortcoming”

  1. Filipinos are not : “too proud to think”; they are : too Lazy to think. Most Filipinos has no common sense. Just look at the EDSA myth. It was Fake News. then, it became a , Fake History. The Aquino Cojuangco political axis, the facilitator of this , Fake News and Fake History. Built a Shrine of EDSA, put a National Holiday, put monuments of Ninoy Aquino, Jr., their martyr. Adored , Cory Aquino, their Saint…Named International Airport, Stadiums, buildings, after him, and her…and put the faces of the Aquino family on our currency.

    This is how ignorant and , naive the Filipinos are in their thinking. There is still time to reverse the idiotic mindsets of Filipinos. Heal their ignorance …This is the purpose of us , concerned Bloggers, to help and train our countrymen to Think !

  2. One thing that seems to kick in from the “tsismis” mentality of some Filipinos: if something is being disproved, they wonder why it is being suppressed. They’ll assume, it might be the truth, which is why it is being suppressed! Like when a man denies he’s gay, the tsismisos will say, he denied, so he is! No wonder conspiracy theorists are aplenty. That thing you wrote about as “Crowdsourcing” in an earlier article. In the end, people will believe what they want to no matter what you tell them. “Who cares about you, I’ll believe what I want, mind your own business, screw off!”

  3. I had my knuckles severely wrapped by the local town Mayor, in person, when I wrote a humorous satirical piece, on my personal Facebook page, about our local Tourism Centre that contained no tourist information, not even a map of the area, only a cafe and a shop and still doesn’t, almost 2 years later. Now I don’t accept Filipino Friend requests to my Facebook page without careful vetting and usually having first met them. A real shame as it’s a good way to learn from each other, I have also added a warning on my Facebook Home page ‘(Warning May Offend)’. This is not the only incident, just the worst. It changed our families whole approach to interacting, or not, with the local population and has left a very bitter taste as we were publicly humiliated for the sake of a local politician gaining some points with the locals. If he didn’t like what he read then a quiet, civilised, word would have been the right way to have corrected any error on my part and not out in public with a large local audience for his own gratification. We have decided not to open a local business or invest in local enterprise only our elementary school as they seem to appreciate both our humour and our help.

    1. Typical Filipino response: instead of fixing a clear case of failure and incompetence, lash out at the person who flags up the problem. Meanwhile, your Tourism Center is (most likely) getting posted on tourist facebook pages with comments that are – I would guess – a lot more derogatory than yours.

      If Filipinos spent as much effort on self-improvement as they do on covering up their inadequacies, the country would be halfway normal within a decade.

  4. It’s no fun when you have to explain a joke.

    I am assuming that the novel Noli Me Tangere is a required reading in the Philippine educational system. If so, then Filipinos have been exposed to at least one literary work of satire. I wonder if students comprehend Rizal’s message or if they recognize or appreciate the satire.

    I have indeed observed the dominance of slapstick and literal forms of Philippine t.v. entertainment. Perhaps, the absence of satirical t.v. shows (I’m not sure of this, since I don’t watch t.v) or movies in the Philippines like Saturday Night Live in the U.S. is the reason why Filipinos are unable to recognize satires. They haven’t had much exposure to it in forms of literature or entertainment, thus the inability to detect humor or exaggerated truths in FaceBook posts.

    Philippine t.v. programming is mind-numbing. It’s no surprise the country’s average IQ is 86. It would be of tremendous help if there were television programming similar to that of PBS in the U.S. that’s education-focused.

    Back to Rizal. If his target audience/reader were today’s average Eat Bulaga viewer, a translator would be necessary to unveil his message. It’s no fun when you have to explain a joke.

    1. Satire and Comedy in Politics is dead, it’s just used as propaganda by any politician or political group and their cronies to discredit and insult their enemies.

  5. It’s the Filipino attitude to follow trends without even researching the fact that the first major instances of “Fake News” spiked only happened when the losers of the elections in the US and Philippines started to use the term to discredit the people who are not following their MSM narrative. Then you get a parody in reality with Rappler republishes the “Fake News” list by the Philippine Catholic Church

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