The lesson “political analysts” and “strategists” seem to have not learnt yet about social media is that it feeds one’s confirmation biases — basically shows you what you want to see. This is specially true of those who block, unfollow, or “unfriend” people in their social networks who express political views different to theirs. As a result, most social media users are left with timelines that all but mirror their personal fantasies because (1) they surround themselves with like-minded “friends” and (2) the algorithms of most social media timelines prioritise content that they like.
What this creates is an illusion of a peachy world that conforms to one’s wishes. Inquirer columnist Joel Ruiz Butuyan is one example of such people who draw conclusions on the bases of what they see on their social media feeds. In his piece today “The tasks ahead for Leni supporters”, he writes of the “dream candidate of the opposition, Vice President Leni Robredo” and how her candidacy for president “generated a stirring momentum from the moment she made the announcement”. He then goes on to write…
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For three days from the day she delivered her “Lalaban ako” speech, there was a sea of pink on my Facebook wall. Many of those passionately coming out for Leni on social media are millennials. If this reflects a trend, it bodes very well for her because the youth are a huge chunk of the voting population.
Granted that the admin camp of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte and its outriggers amongst the loose supporter base of former Senator (and now presidential candidate) Bongbong Marcos remain a force to reckon with (and several years of popularity and approval surveys confirm this), it is clear to members of this community that social media is not a safe place to express their political views. The Yellowtards claim ownership over all of Twitter and Facebook is a hive of virtue signalling that characterises much of “polite” conversation. Though inconclusive, there is reason on the part of those of us who are trying to read public sentiment on social media to be conscious of what is not being posted in public forums rather than what is being loudly expressed. Indeed, back in May 2019, Twitter Philippines reported that then senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc “emerged as the most talked about on Twitter during the election season”. That evidently did not translate to votes converted in her favour as, history would soon reveal, she and her eight-candidate “Otso Diretso” coalition would go on to suffer a catastrophic wipe out in that year’s elections despite backing from no less than “vice president” Leni Robredo.
The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa also highlights a curiously similar silence amongst her peers in the Philippines’ journalism community. It is common insider knowledge in the industry that many seasoned journalists and members of management teams in established news media organisations in the Philippines regard Maria Ressa with silent contempt. This is not surprising considering how, since the founding of Rappler in 2012, Ressa has crowned herself God’s Gift to Philippine Journalism using, in all ironies, social media to propagate notions of the superiority of her “social news network” operating model over the obsolete (we are told) news reporting models of the country’s more established news and public affairs organisations. Ressa had effectively won this “Peace Prize” at the expense of her professional community and the Philippine government — first by creating a messianic persona that presumes to liberate her industry colleagues from “oppression” and, second, by casting the Philippine government as an “evil” antagonist in a dishonest narrative that she then went on to repeat over and over again to her influential cronies in Western news media organisations.
Like those who beg to take issue with the Yellowtards’ frequent chameleon-like recolouring, quiet-achieving journalists who are are not in the habit of making themselves the subject of their work are all but shamed into even greater depths of silence today. This makes the National Artist F. Sionil Jose a truly courageous soul in how, at risk of being burned at the stake for his views, expressed direct opposition to Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize on Facebook. To this, all “respected” journalist and GMA News Online honcho Howie Severino could respond with is a lame ad hominem…
My opinion as a reader — I’ve read your books and I’ve read Maria’s books. She’s a much better writer.
Your books are hard to finish. Your dialog is stilted and unrealistic. Even your columns contain little to no insight. But I like your bookstore.
Rather than listen, the Philippines’ chattering classes have turned into a Taliban-like lynch mob of book burners and censors — quick to judge, utterly lacking in imagination and curiosity, and guided only by primal tribalism. You’d think you could expect a bit more from private school Katipuneros like Howie Severino, for example. Sadly, for people like him, the thumbs up of a handful of suits appointed by the Norwegian Parliament sitting in conference half a world away trumps the voices of millions of Filipino voters and thousands of their more “ordinary” more professional journalists.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.