The modern Filipino devil
I grew up in an open-minded family, where no idea was too stupid to not be entertained, even for just a while.
My education, in turn, taught me to be steadfast in my beliefs and to defend them with logic and reason.
I learned to respect others’ beliefs as well, and to offer constructive insight when necessary.
All of this allowed me to stay critical and assertive, at least to the best of my extent.
As evidence of my “maturity,” the subjects of my conversations have changed. Talk about the latest bands and trends has been exchanged for political insights and discussions on social issues, and damn, there sure are a lot of them.
Suddenly, it’s like everyone I knew had something to say about everything. There was always something to talk about, something to fight for, and something to defend.
People’s passions changed as they grew, all founded on their beliefs, their ideals, and the reality to which they had been exposed.
In short, what they believed in stood on the information they had acquired.
Information has become everyone’s best friend, a tool that allows people to negotiate discussions and tests as well as to converse with others about everyday life. Information is meant to be shared, and the internet has made all of this possible at a very rapid pace.
However, as I scrolled down the comments about a rally in some place in the metro on what I thought was a quiet evening, I was reminded of a very important lesson: Information can be equally used destructively as it can be used constructively.
I could not believe the stress I was feeling as I read the comments on the post. It was like the devil himself had manifested as a guy named Jorpet on Facebook as he cursed at the author rather than attacked the content of the post. His words, bristling with hate, somehow found their way to insult the author’s mother, family, and looks for some odd reason.
The rest of the comments told a similar story. People were bashing others’ opinions and treating theirs as a matter of fact.
Critically constructed assertions were not to be found; instead, an influx of “e di wow” bombarded my screen, forcing my forehead to wrinkle at every mention of the phrase. The rare, long, and justified comment always found itself with its share of haters, who, I think, spent more time finding words to insult the person than to actually read and understand what the person was trying to say.
The toxicity and clangor had me beginning to think: What the hell has happened? Somehow, things have become mutually exclusive to one another, and this was not only on that post. Social media has become a platform where you either wholly support something or are totally against it.
Opinions had to take only one of two sides, and facts were used as a means to justify a logically incorrect opinion. The lack of a multiperspective point of view pitted one against the other, creating a social dissonance not evident in our lives offline.
Attacks and appeals on emotion have become the most common form of “conversation” among these people. Common decency was nonexistent, as people stooped low enough to equate one’s gender with one’s ability to argue. Anyone who would appear to be losing in a discussion would suddenly pull out the
ever-annoying “e di ikaw na” card out of nowhere, making a win feel like a loss at times.
How come the ever-smiling and hospitable image of a Filipino took an utterly different and disgusting appearance online?
The rise of fake news, cherry-picked data, and the move for social awareness have turned the modern “woke” Filipino into a contradiction.
The more one is exposed to these logically corrupting avenues, the higher the chances that they, too, may resort to using logical fallacies out of frustration.
In the attempt to make one’s opinions heard, one subjects oneself to a cesspool of malice and hatred, and becomes corrupted as well.
The collective negativity and intellectual elitism found online is causing a digital civil war in the country, one that’s silently taking place in a reality we refuse to acknowledge.
Who should we blame for the crisis that is the modern Filipino devil?
Should we blame our educational system for not teaching logical reasoning well enough?
Should we blame the lack of values-oriented lessons, ones that could have possibly led to more constructive and healthier discourse?
Should we blame social media for giving everyone the power to voice their opinions, but also the power to hurt others with words as well?
All of these are to blame to some extent, but the main contributor to the online Filipino devil is found in all of us. We are the problem, every time we close our minds and render the world as only black and white.
We all take part in downplaying situations that need our dire and critical action, especially when we know we can contribute even just a little bit.
We are the problem whenever we fail to realize that the power of our words could go so much more than a hate-filled comment.
The modern Filipino devil exists in all of us, and will continue to exist if we keep our minds closed to the possibility that we are not the smartest person we know.
It’s when we acknowledge that working together is the only way our nation will advance can we develop a means to push our country forward in the right direction.
Forget the fake news, but listen to opinions. Everyone has an idea worth listening to. Learn to discourse, and learn from discourse. Who knows, you might learn to say something better than “e di wow” on the next Mocha Uson post.
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Ian Dominic M. Galero, 19, is a second year civil engineering student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.