The wordwars on Facebook and other social networking sites between the DDS and the “Dilawans” continue to show us that more Filipinos are trying to engage in sociopolitical issues in the cyberworld. We have seen both the good and ugly sides of this online engagement as fanaticism continues to reign on both sides; discussions get muddy and lost with unnecessary invectives, ad hominems, and threats of every kind.
Passion rules reason. And more than ever, we need to still ourselves to be always on the side of what is right and just, regardless of political affiliation. Being human at all times should be our priority over being correct and popular. And so I like to suggest some ways on how we can navigate carefully through the Scylla and Charybdis of our present politics.
Think before you tick. Emotions rise to the ebb and flow of issues. Different political inclinations will always have something to say on every thread, no matter how mundane, no matter how minute the detail. These days, careful people are advised to stay away from the comments section due to irrationality and violence that characterizes these threads. But if you cannot stay away, I advise you to step back from your keyboard for a while and carefully consider what you are going to write. Determine your purpose and consider the audience. Will it be worth the trouble of going through trolls? Will you be able to restrain yourself in provocative instances?
Don’t overdo it. So you decided to engage the threads. Alright. But when is enough, enough? When do you say that you have actually got your point across? Define the limits of your online engagement. You need to have a limit, otherwise, you fall into a trap of time-wasting conversations. Know this: you cannot convince everyone; you don’t have to.
Be human. Always. At the end of the day, our understanding of our sense of humanity determines how we engage people. So many times we are passionately driven by the twisted, not necessarily wrong, motive to prove that the other person is wrong. There is a backfire-effect wherein the more we try to convince the other person is wrong, despite of facts, the more will this person become defensive, resistant, and overprotective of his/her beliefs. Not everyone shares the same sense of humanity but at least let me say that when we want to engage in these kinds of discussions, our goal at best is to inform rather than to convince.
To educate another person requires patience, understanding, a certain kind of adjustment, and respect for the other person’s learning capacity and capability. But as I see it, everyone’s out there trying to convince, trying to prove what better sort of a thinking person they are than their opponents. And so we may win the battle but still, lose the war.
Therefore, think before you tick, don’t overdo it, and most of all, be human.
Dom writes for pay by day and writes for passion by night. He is a Japan major at the University of the Philippines. He’s fond of ramen and anime but not of nice people.