In her recent Manila Times piece, A social media wish list for 2019, social media “expert” Noemi Dado issues a call-to-action for Netizens for the coming new year 2019: “It is time to replace or concentrate on personal websites or blogs, instead of Facebook, as the main platform.”
Dado likely built this idea on the long-observed decline in blogging — political blogging, specifically — since its heyday in the mid-2000s. Most stark is the void left by the clique of “influencers” associated with today’s Opposition; supporters of the Liberal Party more broadly known as the Yellowtards — people loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan, the prayerful ones, the chi-chi private school activistas and even some fashionista consumer influencers who sneak in a political tweet once in a while in between product endorsements. Left to monopolise this intellectual wasteland is Jover Laurio, a.k.a. Pinoy Ako Blog, who stands as the top Yellowtard blogger separated by a vast margin to whoever comes second to her in today’s Opposition camp.
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It is difficult to gauge how much (if at all) the Philippine Opposition realise how big a ball they have dropped and how much trouble they are in having been left banking on a single mediocre blogger to cover the playing field Dado encourages everyone to jump into in 2019. At the dawn of 2018 last January, leftist Netizen Katrina Stuart-Santiago was being kind in her seminal piece State of blogging, microblogging, media #crisis when she described much of Laurio’s work as “but a series of questions dripping with malice and insinuations that are based on unnamed sources” but nonetheless goes on to cite the lack of rigour and coherence in the material she subjects her readership to and, most important of all, the intellectual dishonesty that is at the core of Laurio’s work…
Laurio does not hyperlink to her sources — something that RJ Nieto (one of her favorite nemesis) actually takes seriously — and I’ve caught her often enough leaching off other Facebook pages’ content and passing the content off as her own. She then gets comments like “ang talas talaga ng mata mo Pab!” Yet the same information was posted on the Facebook page of We Are Collective days before she even put it on her blog.
She is clearly a Liberal Party ally, but pretends to be otherwise by putting in pretend-critical posts of say, Leni Robredo; but also revealing her LP ideology in posts about say, the Kidapawan Massacre of farmers (it was scripted, she says), or questioning the takeover of abandoned decrepit housing by members of Kadamay in Pandi Bulacan. She equates Judy Taguiwalo with the New People’s Army (NPA), and then defends herself by saying Duterte did it too after the DSWD Secretary was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
Indeed, to reiterate, if this is the best “blogger” the Yellowtards can cough up, the Opposition are in real trouble. Looking even further back, James Jimenez, spokesperson of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) made a similar call in his 2013 piece Write! where he observes…
One of the unfortunate side-effects of the rise of Facebook is that kids nowadays have actually drifted further and further away from writing. Not banging away quick and easy retorts to Facebook comments and current events; not the tortured compositions that pass for profundity in various status updates throughout the social webs; not the gonzo “ansaveh???” reactions to equally ludicrous statements by others.
No, not any of that. I mean real writing; the act of setting words down that, in their various combinations, communicate ideas, meaning, insight, and thereby enrich the minds of their readers.
Jimenez gets on top of the key reason why this decline in long-form online writing is problematic. An ability to string together ideas into a coherent unified work such as a substantial essay, a blog post, or an opinion article is what separates the men from the boys in the business of leading a people and shaping public opinion in a truly meaningful way. The context of Jimenez’s 2013 piece was the Sangguniang Kabataan elections coming up in October of the year he published that piece. Lamenting the dearth of quality content put online by the crop of young Filipinos vying for positions in the SK, Jimenez issues a call-to-action more prescient than what Dado issues today…
People, I think, especially those who intend to go into public service in one way or the other, have to write more. Especially these youngsters who are gunning for SK in a few months. They’re the ones who should be putting their ideas on paper and submitting those thoughts to the wild wild web for comment, review, and criticism just as much as for praise and recognition.
In that, Jimenez leaves off where Dado starts several years later — the barren wasteland that the Philippine blogosphere has become save for the detestable work of Jover Laurio solely representing the voice of the Opposition in this digital land of vote-converting opportunity. Beyond this are all the mere bottom-feeders: self-described “influencers” who find comfort in social media echo chambers congratulating one another for their quaintly clever 256-character opinion snippets. Perhaps the Yellowtards are comfy in this easy space where not much thinking is required to get that vital validation fix retweets and likes deliver. Surround yourself with enough like-minded “followers” and you will get exactly that in much the same way your mother is your biggest fan. The competition they have shied away from is, of course, the harder game — where a battle of real wits is waged and where only those with the wherewithal to craft deeply-insightful work and issue intellectually-stimulating challenges to these thrive.
This is the real reason why “fake news” and “misinformation” spread — because the content produced by this generation’s “influencers” have regressed in boldness and declined in quality and, as a result, have dulled the once-acute bullshit detector of vast swathes of Netizens. In place of boldness and quality is the currency that determines ascendancy in social media: popularity. Unfortunately, the popularity of an idea has never been a good indicator of its validity. Devoid of substance (and enough space to articulate that substance), social media provides a poor platform for intelligent discourse. I join the call-to-action issued today by Dado and, much earlier, by Jimenez. Filipinos need to write more. Today is Jose Rizal Day after all. This Filipino “national hero” wrote a lot and angered a lot of people with his writing. If you are not pissing off someone, you are probably not doing anything important. Write more. Piss people off. Take what you dish out. Do it intelligently. Write on!
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.