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Crash the party

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Crash the party

/ 12:20 AM October 21, 2016

Popcorn was passed around in the past week as a showdown unfolded between social media star Mocha Uson and Ateneo de Manila University’s student publication Matanglawin Ateneo. The publication’s lampoon issue, aiming to satirize certain sociopolitical trends among Filipinos, featured the banner “Mochang Tanga Blog.” Ms Uson, who is known online for being vocal with her political views, unsurprisingly posted her displeased reaction on Facebook. And thus ensued a social media war.

For anyone who takes these internet arguments with a grain of salt, it was an entertaining showdown, what with the comments wildly swinging between smart, sharp, and stupid. But there was a more disappointing undertone to the whole spectacle, because all throughout it, commenters stressed that it was a clash between common citizens and intellectuals. It was, they claimed, that old “simpleng tao versus elitista” divide.

“Grabeh ang comment ng mga bashers dito, Pang mayaman lang… mga spoiled brat lang ang dating,” Ms Uson wrote in her comments.

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“Mga elitisTANGA sila,” echoed one commenter.

Since time immemorial, we’ve scowled at the existence of “elitists”—the upper-class, privately-schooled cream who seemed to always speak from inside a bubble of comfort, effortlessly keep the advantage of being more well-informed, and easily repress the voices of the rest of us. It’s tough to deny that these groups have existed, because at certain points in our history, their influence has been strongly felt.

But in this age when information is free-flowing and anyone can say anything thanks to the internet, elitism in societal discussions is only little more than a lingering notion.

These days, the people who are often called elitists—well-read, articulate critical thinkers—no longer hold some exclusive invite into the party of the sensible. And even if there were an undeniable gate of exclusivity to this party, it’s time everyone crashed it.

In today’s societal conversations, it barely matters anymore whether one is rich or poor, or went to a private or public school. Everyone now has the capability and platform to argue intelligently. The so-called “elite” does not have monopoly on awareness and logical thinking. An argument whose only merit is that it comes from a “common person,” yet is devoid of sense and logic, cannot be tolerated.

When information is abundant and freely available, there is no more excuse to stay uninformed. When there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to public forums, there is little reason to feel repressed in that regard. And when all sorts of resources abound, enabling us to form and express analytical opinions, there is no more room for empty rhetoric wrapped in ad misericordiam.

The common citizen can be just as well-read, articulate, and critically thinking as those labeled elitists. Of course, this requires getting our heads out of their holes—reading articles beyond the headlines, looking for sources other than Facebook posts, and thinking for ourselves outside of poorly Photoshopped internet memes.

The trouble is that many are not willing to do these and yet are ready to cry “Elitista!” when confronted with reason. If one insists on an uninformed assertion or an illogical conclusion, then cries repression when corrected, that has nothing to do with elitism. That’s just staying ignorant.

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It’s time to destroy the myth that only the well-heeled and well-schooled can astutely drive conversations that matter; it’s time to break out of the notion that the common citizen’s only standard in these conversations is lowliness instead of intelligence.

The resources we need to truly participate in these conversations are available to all of us now. Let’s crash the party of the imagined elite. Even though the truth is, there is really nothing to crash: We are all always invited to be well-informed, articulate critical thinkers.

hyacinthjt@gmail.com

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TAGS: Ateneo de Manila University, critical thinking, elitist, Matanglawin Ateneo, Mocha Uson, social media
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