Saturday, April 13, 2013

Local Elections and Online Rudeness



Election time is near and majority of the members of Facebook groups, especially those who are into partisan politics are getting ruder. We are witnesses to many immature, childish virtual altercations recently especially in Unlad Mindoro and Sablayan Opinion Board (SOB). Incidents of sort are on-going as of this writing. But this doesn’t surprise me at all for politicking and politician-based (or inspired) debates are already part of our lives even before rivals Dream Team and Performance Team came into existence in the face of Occidental Mindoro. Social networking sites, especially Facebook only became another arena, another venue. No doubt, our sense of belongingness and unity as a people are ruined not only by social media but especially by political "diehards", their back-uppers, supporters and campaign point persons. Thus, this season is making us ruder.

According to a latest study, 78% of people surveyed have reported increased rudeness on-line, and most have no qualms at all about forgetting their manners in the on-line sphere. Said survey found out that 1 in 5 people have reduced their face-to-face contact with someone they know in real life after an on-line run-in.

The true intention of a social media is not only to connect friends, family and even lovers but it is also a seedbed of less thoughtful people and amplifier of their subjective feelings and voices. Sometimes I am also guilty of treating cyber-bullies and trools as if they are persons of less dignity. In an article written by Tamara Rajakariar entitled “Social Media is Making Us Ruder” further states, “There’s also the problem of gossip. Rumor and scandal is facilitated, because we have so much access to information about people we might hardly know. This makes it so much easier to be critical and judge them”

True enough, those people who are usually lambasting my person in cyberspace and those who are falsely accusing me are mostly people who do not know me personally. They judge me by merely looking at my FB Profile. Our on-line profiles are not completely us. There are also irresponsible and coward posters and commenters hiding his/her true identity. No gunfighter in his right mind, no matter how brave and gallant he is, would ever agree to engage in a pistol quick draw with an opponent covering in the wild! Seeing comments and postings magnifying rudeness using inappropriate, malicious, arrogant words or forms of argumentum ad hominem, are accepted by many because, well, for them, it brings entertainment. This is morally acceptable in the eyes of many of us for election time is the most entertaining time in this impoverished nation. It's a circus galore. We are greatly entertained by the lives, sins and shortcomings, even physical attributes of others especially now that the political zarzuela is on. But even in circuses, there are rules and authorities to observe and to follow. In case of this present predicament, it's the election laws and the COMELEC.

Joseph Grenny, co-chairman of corporate training firm VitalSmarts, said, "The world has changed and a significant proportion of relationships happen online but manners haven't caught up with technology.” Sad but true. He said there are three rules that could improve conversations online: to avoid monologues, replace lazy, judgmental words, and cut personal attacks particularly when emotions were high. It’s as simple as that, friends.

But in the long run, there’s no substitute for face-to-face healthy discussions and sharing and we have to do it in every which way we can…

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(Photo: Reporting Texas)

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