I came up with a new public relations (PR) concept for Malacanang. I call it the Flypaper Trick. To understand this trick, a brief explanation of how flypaper works is in order. Flypaper is a sheet of paper coated with a strong adhesive that attracts flies that happen to be buzzing around. A fly that alights on it gets stuck onto the adhesive. The more it struggles, the more it gets stuck. Suffice to say, flies stuck on flypaper eventually die.
The PR Flypaper Trick involves laying out the social media equivalent of flypaper to attract the buzz of “Netizens” presuming to be part of the political discourse. Currently there are a number of such flypaper sheets already laid out and have snared quite a number of bug-brained Filipino Netizens. These are:
– Mocha Uson’s Mayon Volcano location gaffe
– The UST Alumni Association’s Mocha Uson imbroglio
– Maria Ressa’s “press freedom” fear mongering
– Jover Laurio’s blog
– Martial Law fear mongering
– “Fake News”
– Internet “trolls” and “bots”
– Cold War era Communist rhetoric
One could bet good money that just the above eight “issues” collectively attract at least 80 percent of social media political chatter. Easily. This means that only 20 percent (at most) of social media “social justice warriors” (SJWs) are on the ball when it comes to discussing the important stuff, or stuff that ordinary Filipinos give a hoot about.
If we step back even further, the whole ecosystem of politics-related chatter on Philippine social media probably accounts for just 10 percent of overall chatter, with a full 90 percent focused on showbiz and lifestyle topics. This can easily be gleaned from the topics that routinely make up the top ten “trending” topics — mostly stuff about Maine Mendoza and her “Aldub” franchise, Korean K-Pop and telenovelas, and one or the other branded showbiz “love teams”.
In short, just 20 percent of 10 percent (or a measly 2 percent) of overall social media chatter has to do with the truly hard-hitting topics of national consequence. That’s quite disturbing, to say the least.
Or is it?
What are the “big issues” serious SJWs ought to be discussing then? Blogger Kat Stuart Santiago tabled a list of eight “serious” topics that, she asserts, serious political discussionists should be, well, discussing.
(1) Provincial militarisation and its “victims”, the peasants and indigenous minorities
(2) The Bangsamoro Basic Law
(3) Charter Change and its “railroading” by the House
(4) Bong Go and the frigates
(5) The junking (finally!) of the jeepney
(6) Tax reform and its supposed effect on “the poor”
(7) The Dengvaxia debacle
(8) The wealth and lifestyle of the Duterte kiddies
Presumably, these are “important” because they could make or break the Philippines’ journey to future national prosperity (i.e. the same journey from Third World to First World that Singapore had completed). This means that the real test of how important these are in this context is whether resolving them or allowing them to fester will actually pave the way — or serve as roadblocks — to achieving national prosperity.
A good exercise then would be to rate these on a scale from one to ten with a “10” representing very strong determinant of future national prosperity and a “1” representing no impact on future national prosperity. To make things simple, let’s measure “national prosperity” on the basis of an archaic but still widely-accepted indicator of average individual economic power — the old reliable per capita income metric.
So, for brevity’s sake, we can frame the challenge using a simple question:
Will resolving the above eight “important” issues result in an uplift of Filipinos’ per capita income over the foreseeable future?
The results (assuming the question is answered in an intellctually honest manner) will likely surprise garden-variety SJWs and open up an even more important question. If 80 percent of the political discourse is invested in the discussion of Flypaper Topcs, and just 2 percent of overall social media chatter is around “important topics” of dubious consequence from the perspective of building national economic power, what forces outside of “democratic politics” drives (or hinders) economic progress?
Now there is an important challenge — framing a truly intelligent discourse that delivers results to the average Filipino where it matters: their wallets and bank accounts.
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