The Rise of Cults and Ignorance

During the 2010 elections a few candidates have already experimented on social media by posting campaign ads on Facebook. Six years later, social media has evolved and significantly changed the landscape of election campaigning. Television commercials, print advertisements, and campaign rallies alone no longer enough. Filipinos have gone digital and it is necessary to make noise online in order for the voting public to pay attention to a candidate.

Social media has become more advanced in reaching out to a broad audience making it a very effective platform to promote a person and their issues and advocacies. Most if not all candidates, especially the ones running for a national position, are on social media. The number of likes and followers can serve as an indication of a candidate’s popularity.

Television networks and news agencies gave a bigger spotlight to the election scene this year. “Kampanyaseryes” are in all forms of media – from television to newspaper and to the internet. Of course, the drama behind it – conflict between the candidates, their back stories, and the mudslinging – were not left out.

This year’s media coverage is more “grandiose” because of the PiliPinas Debates series of the Commission on Elections. Every television network and news agencies are now given the chance to organize and air the national debates for presidential and vice-presidential candidates. These provided a venue for the citizens to get to know the candidates more deeply. The debates even caused significant changes to survey results in favor of those who answered well and kept their composure.

Unfortunately, social media also became a venue for hypocrites and self-proclaimed “political analysts” to assert themselves. Everyone has the right to express their opinions but some have gone as far as harassing the candidates and other citizens. A simple comment or show of support is not enough for some. There are people who go out of their way to defend their bets by making ignorant and offensive statements.

Social media also gave birth to “political cults”. They look at their candidates as if they are gods. These supporters turned “worshippers” have become so annoying because of their opinions that are obviously bias and unreasonable.

It is a blasphemy for them if you go against their bets. If you say something wrong about their candidate no matter how objective your opinion is, a violent and abusive backlash can be expected. These supporters will defend their candidates in a way that is not within the borders of a civilized and intelligent discourse.

Social media has given people the sense of entitlement that they can post anything and everything irresponsibly without checking their facts first or any regard to other people’s feelings.

ABS-CBN, GMA, Rappler and other news agencies have done their part in informing the public about the elections and the candidates. It is already up to the public if they would make use of that information to make a carefully considered and objective choice when they cast their votes.

(Photo courtesy of http://wmbriggs.com)

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