Why the deluge of hate? | Inquirer Opinion
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Why the deluge of hate?

So many people I know are taking “leave” from social media, if not walking away from it altogether, all because, they say, they are sick of the nastiness and negativity that prevail in it.
Time was when I actually enjoyed visiting Facebook, mainly to catch up on what was happening in the life of family members and friends, and to be diverted from day-to-day concerns with posts on the quirky, interesting, moving and challenging events taking place at the moment or even way back in the past.

Turning on FB is still one of the first things I do when I get up (even before I get up), a way of reconnecting to the world after hours of tuning out. Sometimes what I read is inspiring and energizing. Increasingly, though, all the negativity and cynicism I find in the posts make me want to pull the blanket over my head and return to dreamland. Can we not give all the disputes a rest?

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An FB friend whose comments I invariably agree with comments on the flurry of hateful, shocking messages that Filipino fans of Manny Pacquiao have been sending to Australian Jeff Horn, who recently dealt the senator a defeat that signals the “Pambansang Kamao’s” steady decline as a boxing icon.

“We Filipinos have topped ourselves,” my friend writes. “Since last year, during the campaign and until today, we have been hating one another for our own political choices. But today, it is the world that is hating us.”

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This is because Pacquiao fans have been “throwing vile, hate(ful), abusive words via social media” toward Horn, and extending their bile towards his pregnant wife and even their unborn child.

Truth to tell, while I was quite indifferent to Pacquiao’s fate in his latest fight, I did wince at times at the way Horn behaved himself. Fight commentators said Horn “deceived” the public with his meek demeanor in the days leading to the bout, only to unleash the brawler that he was in the ring. Dismaying, indeed, were the head butts and the surreptitious swipes he would take at Senator Pacquiao even when the referee was telling them to break up their clinches.

Sports commentator Quinito Henson in fact throws shade at Horn, asking if Australia “can be proud of the way he captured the title.” The senator-fighter, said Henson, “should’ve at least been given a fair shake.”

I quite agree, although, if he were to be completely honest with himself, Pacquiao should acknowledge that he was at fault, too. People more knowledgeable about boxing than I have said Pacquiao did not prepare sufficiently for the fight. And even the uninitiated boxing viewer should have noticed that Pacquiao was but a shadow of his former fighting self. He lumbered through the ring, and none of his theatrical footwork was on display. Time had indeed taken its toll on the “National Fist.”

Which is not such a bad thing. Time catches up with everyone, even eight-time title holders. If retirement is not within the horizon for the senator, then he is clearly deluding himself.
But still, does Pacquiao’s defeat justify all the vitriol that Pinoy netizens have poured on Horn and his family? What offense would ever justify wishing death on an innocent baby still in his/her mother’s womb? The evil wishes speak more about the authors than they do about the target of their ire.

And that is the point of those who bemoan the deluge of hate engendered by Pacquiao’s defeat. For it speaks not just about the disappointment or even mourning of Pacquiao’s fans. It’s a symptom of a national malaise, a form of “hating” unleashed by the unprecedented use of social media in the last campaign and that continues to this day.

“Most Filipinos are not like that,” broadcaster Howie Severino, who once initiated a “think before you click” campaign to rein in the more negative aspects of social media, wrote his Australian friends, apologizing for the “hate aimed at the Horns.”

But we must apologize, first of all, to ourselves, for the way we have allowed social media to diminish our sense of decency and amity. And excuse me while I leave FB for now to breathe in fresh air, free from the toxic fumes of hate.

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TAGS: At Large, Inquirer Opinion, Jeff Horn, Manny Pacquiao, Rina Jimenez-David, social media
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