Bemoan or Build; a Choice

I’ve noticed there is a natural drive toward negativity in most blogging commentaries. We editors and commenters all seem to drift inexorably toward the anti-agenda of complaint and criticism.

Even this blog, this editor.
I was smacked upside the head about this in reading a fine testimonial to Kim Henares  by Filomeno S. Sta Ana III the other day on Pro-Pinoy. It was refreshing to read such an upbeat commentary and to understand that Jesse Robredo was an example of good Filipino professionalism, not its sole proponent.
Sometimes we paint such dire portraits that we forget that the huge core of effort within the President’s cabinet is purposeful and well-grounded. The Judiciary also appears to be getting into reasoned and constructive acts, as well. That leaves only the Legislature stuck in the mire of self-indulgence and questionable competence.
But back to the point. What causes this natural drift toward negativism?
Why Do We Go Negative?
I suppose it is largely reflective of the fact that we sit back and observe. Watch, follow, see, get upset, and complain.
We see warts or pimples and we want perfection, a glowing complexion, like those angelic ladies who inhabit commercials for shampoos, creams and other chemicals and poisons.
Because we don’t have a place  to sit on the Senate floor or Presidential conference room, we find our chairs apart from the acts and deeds of government. We live in a kind of fantasy ideal land devoid of the risk and pressure and swearing and tough choices that are behind real decisions.
We only see the decisions emerge, nice and clean and sanitized from the dirt of debate. And we figure they were made without thought, without fist pounding or equivocation or stress. Easily. Quickly.
Our apartness relegates us to the armchair where we quarterback with all the other observers. Sometimes sipping a San Mig or jug of Kickapoo Joy Juice. If we were down on the field, it would be different. We don’t have to be in the lineup slamming heads or kicking the pig or whacking the ball like the other athletes. We only need be close enough to the action to hear the contact, hear the grunts, smell the sweat, understand the drama of the plays, slap a comrade athlete’s back, offer a bit of advice, and sip the Gatorade.
When on the field, we can SEE the huge defensive back crunch our halfback when he slips on loose sod. Hear the crack. Hear the yelp of pain. Watch the stretcher come onto the field.
So we would be more honest and honorable participants in our democracy if we were players. If we were closer to the action. Then we’d have a better understanding of the FORCES in play that make perfection impossible.
Alas, we have lives to lead, kids to feed or fish to catch, flowers to grow, jobs to work at. We can’t be everywhere.
What Do We Do about It?
Well, I have this idea that we can do more than we do. I have this idea we can actually participate in activities and thereby avoid slipping into the depressing world of bemoaning negativism, the whining, grousing, and complaining that is so WEARING on humor and confidence and good heart.
Here’s my thinking .
    The real JoeAm?
  •  I look at Raissa Robles’ blog site and I know she is getting right to the heart of some very important issues. She gets to the facts and meaty issues in her articles, and her readers’ commentary enriches them. The comments takes the article out of isolation and makes it powerful. People of importance read her blogs. In large part because the commentary is active.
  • I also note that Pro-Pinoy has stepped up its action with more articles that are starting to draw comments.  Maybe Cocoy has decided to be a player.
  • The Society of Honor is a good place to go to energize one’s conceptual thinking.  Important people read this out-of-the- box blog, too. Those who aren’t afraid of a foreigner’s perspective. President Aquino knows who Joe America is.
  • Some other blogs may not be as active, but they pop out excellent articles from time to time. Articles worth a bigger audience than what they are getting.
But they all are fairly isolated blogs. Raissa’s is perhaps the exception because it has a huge audience. The rest of us stand alone. And without robust comments, we are too often lonely as well as alone.
If blogging is a community in the Philippines, it is an accidental collection. Not aimed at anything.
I’m saying, let’s make blogging a force within the Philippines. Even more so than it is now.
Each of us, as an individual, can help meld these blogs into a game-changing force. We can do our part to support them. To energize them. And to add our own thinking on the issues.
Here’s my personal goal:
  • Make a commitment to building blogging as a political force in the Philippines.
Some of you are doing this already, I know. I see Edgar popping up here and there, and Cha and baycas, and the inimitable Mariano.
What if more of us do this, in a dedicated determined way, as a personal commitment to building a blogging force? It doesn’t mean to swarm all over blog sites and dull them by over-attention and trolling. I mean simply participate sincerely, but actively. With the goal.
Of course, the blog editors must do their part and keep cranking out pertinent work. Work that means something to opinion leaders in the Philippines.
But commenters can build depth to the blog. I know that for a fact based on what gets added to my articles.
So working to build a more powerful blogging force in the Philippines, from the role of commenter, is fairly straightforward. You can go to the Philippine Blog Center and find who has published a blog recently. Then cue up new articles and participate in the discussion.
You may wish to focus on a few blogs that you’d like to give dedicated attention to. I recommend those that are politically oriented because, in the end, that’s the audience we can influence to bring change to the Philippines. Plus, I’d throw in Rappler, because it rich with news and perspective and deserves our backing as the number one on-line news source.
The four sites that get my everyday attention are Society of Honor(duh), Rappler, Raissa Robles and Pro-Pinoy. I spot check the other blogs for new articles and comment if I have something meaningful to say.
But I have another idea, too. A bit harder, perhaps, both to REMEMBER and to do:
  • To every complaint, attach a way forward.
Get beyond the gripe for griping sake.

  • Build a community of bloggers.
  • Build solutions to obstacles.
Forget bemoaning, grousing, complaining, griping, bitching and snarling.

Unless you are dealing with Sentor Sotto, of course.

43 Responses to “Bemoan or Build; a Choice”
  1. GabbyD says:

    i dont mind being negative, as long as people dont make stuff up in an effort to have a writing voice. How about some facts, and then analysis that builds off those facts? is it really that hard?

  2. A couple of thoughts.Yes, factual analysis of complex subjects is often difficult, especially if data are not readily available. Take the matter of dynasties. Good or bad? To examine this critically, you'd have to look at all the dynasties on some objective basis and weigh their contribution. Extraordinarily difficult.Or Obama's impact on the U.S. economy. Boy howdy, that's a good one.Yes, analytics are good. No, they are not always easy.The other thought is that there is a distinction between complaining and constructive critique, the latter being the analytics that allow building to occur. The former is simply the undermining you see on Get Real, disassociated with any idea how to correct the deficiencies they harp on.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Negativism is necessary sometimes on subject matters being discussed. One does not have to agree with the authors everytime even if one is a big fan of the author. Negativism is Comparative criticism, discussing the flaws compared to merits. Constructive criticism appears similar to comparative. Being Opinionated is Objectivity- Criticize appropriately, give due credit when necessary. Consistent negativism without fairness is subjective becoming personal character dislike rather than being opinionated.Teddy rings a bell. Thanks for the caption, though sexier as you surmised in Raissa blog.Johnny LinHe he he!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A way forward is for commenters to review on history or refresh a personal account in regard to our political landscape. Could be anything. Subjective as well as "objective". Call a spade a spade. Or suffer in silence, seething. That way, we can vote for better candidates in next year's polls. Or catch the attention of movers and shakers. Because that may be the only way the blogs can move forward. DocB

  5. Ah, I shall have to rummage the internet for an appropriately sexy photo of you then.Yes, being opinionated is objectivity, rather the fuel to fresh thinking. My main concern is that we too easily criticize decisioins that were hard to arrive at without having the information at hand that the decision-makers had. What makes us think we could run with the ball better than the halfback who has trained for that task, and knows the plays?And, indeed, character attacks are often motivated by the attacker's personal shortcomings rather than intellectual reason.

  6. Yes, it is better to be loud and wrong than quiet. I haven't checked his dictionary, but perhaps Ambrose Bierce would be inclined to use the trite old definition: "confidence: being wrong in a loud voice".An important point I wanted to make in the article was, "hey, help make blogging in the Philippines a powerful force".

  7. Edgar Lores says:

    1. As I have said before, my reaction to criticism is: Is it true or not? If true, accept or change; if false, what does it matter?2. Criticism of others is easy; criticism of self is difficult, if not impossible, for some.2.1 Criticism of others is easy for 99% of Filipinos.2.2 Self-criticism is difficult for 99% of Filipinos.2.3 Self-criticism is impossible for 99% of politicians – Filipino or otherwise.3. Either analysis is essential or not at all. The unexamined life is not worth living – or totally worth living.4. Criticism or negation is, or should be, the outcome of analysis. More often than not, it is the output of unthinking conditioning or prejudice.5. Criticism or negation, as a result of analysis, helps us to arrive at the truth, to see things as they are.6. As analysis helps us to see things as they are, it will sometimes, but not always, reveal the path to a better way.7. The path to a better way will mostly be revealed if intention is pure.8. Intention is pure if analysis stems from the heart and not only the mind.9. Objective review of this blog will illustrate axioms 4 to 8.

  8. Edgar Lores says:

    “The covers of this book are too far apart.” ― Ambrose Bierce

  9. Anonymous says:

    Aha, sports.Fans are not objective, neither subjective.They trained for only one position- monday quarterback"– Johnny LinHe he he

  10. Anonymous says:

    JoeSolita Monsod has an article in Inquirer about monday quarterbacking on recent US election.Johnny Lin

  11. Thank you for stopping by to add some meat to this otherwise mundane article.The point everyone seems to be missing to focus on criticism is my entreaty to estalish the goal of making blogging a force, as in the "Fifth Estate". That is the action. The rest is just words. Bitching and moaning is natural. Working with discipline and commitment on a goal is unnatural.You already do this, I know, because I see your comments in many places, making the girls swoon. Or at least that psyche lady at Rappler. I'm a little peeved at her. She asked that I comment on my relationship with my wife, which I did diligently, and then she ignored it. Be careful, after she snatches your allegiance or loyalty or unbridled affection, she might dump you into the Pasig of internet irrelevancies.Just watching your back here . . .

  12. Yes, as in "Don Quixote" or "Hawaii".

  13. A bit of a ramble, that. Here's the link: won because Romney screwed up in so many ways. The election was his. He blew it. His trip abroad. Disaster. His foot in mouth disease (47%). Disaster. His picking an extremist VP. Disaster. His being hard-nosed about immigration. Disaster. His rich arrogance. Disaster.He had the authoritative demeanor, the handsome, athletic image, the moderate stance (that got bent and broken during the primaries), the brains and toughness (good debater), the white skin, the financial backers. It was his had he not doubled down on the slimeball Fox/Limbaugh line.

  14. Coco says:

    As I said before, it takes two to tango. In politics you have politicians and their bosses, the people, both will have to adapt to today’s world.It took more than 100 years of discussion on universal (male) suffrage, after discussions if illiterate farmers or workers were able to judge politicians. But eventually we could say yes or no to politicians, once every 3 or 4 years, guided by our church, union, employer… nothing more. In today’s individualistic and information rich world, voting as the only political contribution is too small for many. The internet with it’s bloggers and other people initiatives will have to develop into a recognized political force. Politicians will have to realize that their bosses might know too what they want for themselves and that they have ideas on how to organize an adequate society. Do not expect acceptance of the increased participation of vocal citizens in governing the country soon. Many politicians here still see politics as a short cut to personal wealth, Robredo’s are still exceptions. The middle class in the Philippines is still underdeveloped, assertiveness not a virtue. Even more mature democracies in Europe are struggling with this phenomena today. But what a great initiative, a great discussion, eager to see some effects.

  15. andrew lim says:

    I know Petraeus is a great soldier, but too many jokes to pass up for this topic."Embedded journalist". A new meaning.Title of Paula Broadwell's book on Petraeus? "All In".If Lilia Cuntapay was your biographer, will she look like Paula Broadwell after several weeks in the caves of Kandahar? ha ha ha ha ha

  16. Yes, and your dose of reality is important, too. The signs that the internet community is having bearing can be seen in the Corona trial outcome, and the heat Sotto feels (which would not be there if it were just mainstream media doing the reporting), and the speed with which news flows. The text community is a part of this, and Facebook. It is very dynamic, I find. The voices need to mature a bit, stabilize, and gain respect . . . as journalists more than gossips. Rappler is going down this path in big strides. No agenda, lots of news delivered quick.Give it 5 years and we will know. I think things are changing for the better and it is a genie that the aristocrats can't get back into the bottle.

  17. Yes, quite amusing. I still think the guy is honorable, if a tad too human. He didn't make excuses. He accepted responsibility. He didn't pull a Sotto.

  18. Cha says:

    1. On making a commitment to building blogging as a political force in the Philippines. Ok. Game on. Will check out those guys at Pro-Pinoy. (I only really go to Raissa's and JoeAm's)2. On building solutions to obstacles. Couldn't agree more. I also like flipping the coin over to the other side. That is, accentuating the positive with real life examples and factual information. A lot of the negativism out there stem mostly from a lack of Information or people actually being fed the wrong information.

  19. Doy Santos just did an excellent factual summation of OFW income flowing to the Philippines. He may be in Australia, too, now that I think about it. Economist.It is true how frequently negativism is attached to misinformation. Fortunately, we have Johnny Lin on our side, a guy who knows "more than a computer". It's a documented fact.

  20. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha,1. I have a problem with reading too many blogs.1.1 Time is the major factor.1.2 The ability to digest is another.1.3 The ability to respond coherently is another.1.4 The wife wants me to clean the stove.2. I have regular pit stops – Australia media (2), World/US Media (5), Philippine Media (5), blogs (JoeAm, Raissa).2.1 There are other websites I visit for entertainment.2.2 Just viewing all of these takes a great amount of time.2.3 Responding takes even a greater amount of time. 3. The quality of the response varies. As stated, it is easy to make negative comments. Making positive contributions is harder unless one has stock answers or is a propagandist or is sincere.3.1 Joe is asking for sincere and active participation to make blogging the Fifth Estate. We are doing that. It is being done. It is already a force. But coherency as a force is hard to achieve. I'm not sure that is what Joe is after.3.2 The noise – trolling, propaganda, spin – is, by definition, insincere but may pose a legitimate challenge to one's perceptions. Non sequiturs open up new avenues for investigation and comment. Invective is coarse, but the temptation to use it is sometimes overwhelming. And humor is essential.4. Sometimes the world is too much with us. We must pause and take retreats.

  21. Outrageously rational and I'm honored to be on your comment list. You add a lot to this site's meaningfulness. Please keep that stove spotless so your wife does not realign your priorities.Invective is a very good word, best used as a scalpel, with a twist.

  22. Cha says:

    Ed,1. Same here, I also only have so much time that I can spend on the blogosphere. But I am willing to look into adding just one more to the list. I think you're already covering quite a lot as it is. 3. I agree, blogging is already a force as it is. Look at Sotto's current predicament, that really all started with the first case of plagiarism pointed out by the Filipino Freethinkers blog. Also agree about the difficulty of achieving coherence, but only if it entails a deliberate effort, like say the bloggers actually organising themselves and agreeing on a common agenda. But note how a number of blogs just naturally tend to converge toward the same position on certain issues or move towards the same direction in pursuing a course of action. It happened with the Corona impeachment, the RH Bill and Sotto's plagiarism. I don't think Joe is really after the former. What I got from the article is that we can build blogging as a political force first by ensuring the good ones stay active via a steady stream of visitors and active commenters which help increase the blog's popularity. Secondly, the blogs can help change/ shape policies, practices and even attitudes by providing solutions or alternative ways of doing things instead of just simply pointing out what is wrong all the time, and netizens like us can help bring this about through example.I find both suggestions make sense. I suppose we are also already doing these to a certain extent. Again, with you covering more than I do. So you probably deserve more retreats that I do 🙂

  23. Anonymous says:

    As the saying goes (paraphrasing from the movie Field of Dreams),JoeAm, if you build it, they will come.DocB

  24. Blogging, social media and twittering unraveled spring break in internet challenged North Africa and the Mid-East so does American Media said.Filipinos are number one in Facebook membership and in Twitter most likely in blogging BUT FILIPINOS FAILED TO TURN THE PHILIPPINES UPSIDE RIGHT. Except that Cybercrime Police Sotto's Law.Government is expected to do goot and think responsibly reasonable that is why we attack. To do otherwise Filipinos might be thinking that all is well when it is otherwise.

  25. Jose Rizal's expensive spanish book "convulsed" the Philippines within 10 years of its publication as if the book is accessible and readable to all Filipinos in the 18th century as if there were Barnes&Nobles in every province. Internet been up since Al Gore invented it in 1994. Filipinos swamped Friendster to failure. Filipinos moved to MySpace and made it irrelevant. Then they moved to FAcebook and tanked its share price. To this day, the PHilippines is still up and running.Therefore, Filipinos must be busy collecting virtual friends than reading blogs.

  26. Ah, you are in fine form today, Mariano. That Al Gore, what a guy. And I always wondered why MySpace bombed out.Turning the Philippines upside right . . . ahahaha, that shall become a Society of Honor goal.

  27. You got it, Cha. Blogging is indeed a force, but a little thin around the edges. Rather than approaching it casually, I subscribe to approaching it with a goal. Becoming a player.Edgar already is one . . .

  28. If I build it, better inspect it really well . . .

  29. Anonymous says:

    One thing about blogs- no disclaimers, disclosures, enforcable guarantees. The virtual equivalent, good or bad, of a free-for-all. JoeAms brew may not reach Raissa's numbers mainly because of the english language. Otherwise, feel free to fire away. At least, that's the JoeAm drift I'm getting. Freedom to make an ass of oneself.DocB

  30. Anonymous says:

    I still look forward, not for anything, to the day a JoeAm blog top 100 posts. That's just me. DocB

  31. I'd put that in the banner headline to the site, too, but I'm not sure it is good marketing."The Society of Honor: Join Us and Feel Free to Make an Ass of Yourself!"The Get Real crowd would think I'm inviting them over. . .

  32. Here is the current ranking of blogs based on a combination of article quality and commentary activity:1. Raissa Robles2. Get Real Post3. Society of Honor by Joe America4. Pro-PinoyIf I'm wrong, someone will have to tell me why.Other sites either don't publish that often, or don't seek to promote dialogue as a part of the presentation.

  33. J says:

    Get Real Post? Really? I died laughing.

  34. Anonymous says:

    If blogging is playing, what sort of rules, if any, are we talking here?

  35. Glad to see you resurrected yourself. They publish regularly, generally well-written tripe, and get lots of commentary which is thin and tinny given that they have banned intelligence from contributing. In terms of serious content, honorable content if you will, the Society is Number Two.You'd be on this list if you published regularly. If that is not your style, write me a guest article sometime. you'll upgrade this site.Joe

  36. Anonymous says:

    Get Real post is perhaps the equivalent of Safire's nattering nabobs of negativity. Or I'm just wreckless.DocB

  37. "Becoming a player" means getting engaged, not playing as in games. The rules are to be forthright, not unduly sensitive, and keep an open mind.

  38. Insufferable. That's the word that popped into my head. Means I can't really stand the relentless cheap-shotting.

  39. J says:

    Well, they are definitely not second based on article quality then. 🙂 I shouldn't really judge since I've stopped reading them long time ago. I just can't stand people there.I've always been lurking around, although not commenting regularly. Much as I'd like to publish regularly, real life obligations (Read: work. Lots and lots of it.) often gets in the way 😦 But thanks for dropping by my blog every now and then.

  40. DOCB, no matter how much reckless negativity in blogs it is still a wreckless medium.

  41. Yeah those jobs. The problem is, with smart people like you, everyone pushes stuff your way. If you got incompetent real fast, you'd have more time.You make a good point. My articles are more original and more objective and more fun than Gen Real. And they ban a lot of readers from commenting (like me) and should be dinged for that.The corrected rating is:Raissa RoblesSociety of Honor by Joe AmericaGet Real PostPro PinoyPro-Pinoy would move up if they published steadily. I hope they do.

  42. Anonymous says:

    You're right Mariano. A fine point. No one gets totalled here.DocB

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