In this post-truth age, where everyone is armed with a tool and can, in safety behind anonymity, maim characters and destroy people’s lives, decency and good-heartedness can no longer survive if we chose to believe in the pacificistic “truth will have its way”. VP Leni’s team learned the hard way after heinous false news tried to pull her into the mud. They have since announced that they will respond to such slurs henceforth. Respond they must, but a non-proactive stance is a very weak defense in the face of such onslaught in social media.
I believe in the freedom of expression with responsibilities and accountability. Those that step beyond the invisible red line needs to be hauled in. To the innocents who have been mauled, such as Leni, my strong advocacy is to sue like hell for libel on each and every incident. This is especially necessary against people who are paid to do the devil’s work.
There has been a paradigm shift in the way political battles are fought ever since Obama won his presidency with tiny contributions from hordes of ordinary people. Looking back at 2016 and with the wisdom of hindsight, it’s so strange that the intelligentsia had no social media game plan and allowed the Duterte-Marcos axis to occupy that space. Obviously, social media alone did not win the war for Duterte, it certainly didn’t work for Bongbong Marcos in his VP bid. But there is no denying their social media initiatives did a lot of damage, and continue to do so.
A little while back, we discussed here in TSH the mathematical or philosophical question of what happens when an irrepressible force meets an immoveable force. Whilst there appears no answer to that question, one thing I know for sure. From my soccer days of long ago, we learned that going into a tackle, we need to go in tough. The weaker bones end up on the ground. Politicians who are fearful that the country may be headed down the fascist path and who have 2022 in mind, need to construct a proactive social media strategy right now. And they need to be as well constructed as the opponents’. They need to make a tough stand.
Is there only one Nic Gabunada, who runs Duterte’s social media program? Of course not. People with his technical skills are a plenty. From what I have heard in reports and interviews, he has done a good job technically, but it is not the best to be. There are lots of other possibilities that they barely exploited. I believe that it is possible to pool a group of people capable of undertaking the job of protecting democracy in Philippines by retaking the social media space. Let’s call this Tean D for ‘Democracy”. The essential expertise for Team D includes IT specialist familiar with all forms of social media, IT forensics specialists, network experts, marketers, digital graphics experts, copywriters, content writers, librarians, lawyers, big data analysts, amongst others. A separate blog is required if we want to get into the details.
I also strongly believe that the righteous and anti-fascist purpose of Team D can attract hordes of volunteers prepared to work pro-bono. A small full-time staff is of course essential. A huge intelligence funding is not necessary, but certainly financial support is required.
We have to face the fact, like it or not, that the way of communication has changed forever, no thanks to technology. Blogs such as what we see in TSH are only appreciated for its substance and literary value by only a handful. For mass communication, success depends on the ability to capture attention by brevity, shock value and visualisation. When someone clicks on a link, you have less than 30 seconds with him. That’s the fact. This is the environment for Team D.
By way of demo, I like Joe’s kind indulgence to display an example of bringing up an issue in a different manner. I put this together, somewhat hurriedly, so it’s not really a good job.
Note for grammar cops:
In deference to the blog host, American English is adopted here. In particular, ‘defense’ is used instead of ‘defence’ as we give way to American preference for ‘s’ generally.
In the Queen’s English, ‘defence’ is a noun, thus we have Ministry of Defence in all Commonwealth countries.
English has something the Americans don’t have – a ‘passive’ and an ‘active’ sense.
- ‘Defence’ is usually used a passive role — eg “His only defence was he didn’t know.”
- ‘Defense’ is used in an active role — eg “We are for the defense of democracy.”