Social Media and Name-Calling

Manila Bulletin, January 19, 2014 | Go to article overview

Social Media and Name-Calling


The advent of social media has unleashed a new force in communication in the world and of course here in the Philippines. Technology has made instant even faster, if that makes sense. The traditional means of communication have become almost obsolete. At the very least, they now play second-fiddle to the instantaneity of the Internet and all the newfangled things anyone is capable of doing in the way of reaching other people. Just as digital cameras and those incorporated in cellphones have made Eastman Kodak and other film manufacturers go belly up, so has the Internet turned other communications media so yesterday. But the new social media have also foisted upon us not only the ability to communicate with extreme speed; they have also brought to the fore a new phenomenon unrestrained commentary which is often filled with vitriol and anger. And rudeness and coarseness that have no place in polite discourse or even a heated debate. Democracy is full and robust when all citizens are able to participate in all aspects of the nations activities. This includes having a say in the public discourse. All voices must be heard and all opinion must be aired. But those voices must proffer reasonable and responsible commentary. Those voices must say something that contributes to the general tone and substance of public participation. But most of all they must say something that contributes and not subtracts from the general knowledge, intelligence and rationality of debate. In this regard, social media often fails the test. There is something intelligent and admirable in many things said in social media. There are commentary and blogs that do contribute positively to the open discussion of the state of things. But there is much that is undesirable and which doesnt really contribute to solving the collective issues and concerns of the general public or of the nation. Worse, there is much that subtracts from the accumulated knowledge or accepted wisdom out there. Social media have opened up the once-closed or privileged soap boxes that used to be dominated and manipulated by a few media outlets or sources of information. …

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