Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rappler dismisses social media debate as "trolling" rather than engage intelligently

Rappler’s “troll” series of articles just feels wrong on many levels.

First, it just feels so dismissive. Instead of engaging in the discourse and writing articles to debunk or counteract any perceived misinformation, they would rather cast contrary opinions as the opinions of “Trolls.” Yes, a lot of the stuff going around social media these days are opinions and speculation, however, Rappler seems to be highly intolerant of opinion.

Second, is the portrayal of the situation as a “war.” War presupposes that there are enemies, an object of justified intolerance and “take-no-prisoner” attitude. Don’t the editors of Rappler realize that this supposed “war” is directed towards a popularly elected President of a legitimate government chosen by the sovereign will of the people? People will of course be free to agree or disagree because this is the President they are talking about and his actions will impact us all, but to blame trolls for the support the President is receiving misses the point completely and is insulting to our individual ability to think for ourselves. Again, I don’t take offense to people disagreeing with the President, the last thing we need is an echo chamber, but to portray the ongoing discussion as a “war” does nobody justice.

Third, this series just feels old fashioned. Portraying this as a “war” seems to be a holdover from the “Laban” rhetoric that yellow media has been peddling for the past 30 or so years. This may have had its place back in the day, but in the days of the interwebs, this is palpably out of place. For a media outfit like Rappler, which tries to market itself as “hip” and intune with the millenial mindset, this is a serious oversight. May I suggest that Rappler do a rebranding and hire younger editors for a change.

Fourth, this series feels like a missed opportunity. A President like Duterte, who can gather so much grassroots support only comes once in a lifetime. In the days of the campaign and during his first 100 days of office, no other man has made us question our alliances, our place in the world, our vision for the future and our values so much as Duterte. This is the time to be engaging in discourse, because the next 6 years will shape us as a nation and will determine our trajectory for the conceivable future. Shutting out people as mere “trolls” will not help anyone in this formative period. Rappler and traditional media should welcome the presence of “trolls” among others so that they can improve the quality of their reportage and so together with “trolls” we can have a common history (and not a one-sided view) with which to build on for the future.

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