Listen

For most of the year, I've minimized my Facebook activity. It started November 2015 when I noticed my newsfeed becoming more political than I was comfortable. I thought the politicization of Facebook would fade after the Philippine election was over. But I was wrong. After the election, if you agree with the President, you're a Dutertard. If you disagree, you're a Yellowtard. Not much of a gray area, as if politics is black and white, or in this case red and yellow. It's as if the President is either a god or the devil. And all along I thought he was human and, therefore, fallible. You can agree on certain things with him and you can disagree without being labelled a certain *tard (mustard?).


The height of political activity in Facebook was around October or November this year. At one point, I removed my Facebook app on my phone so I wouldn't login automatically while I'm stuck in traffic. Aside from all the hubris in Philippine politics, my newsfeed was also inundated with a lot of political analysts regarding the US election--and mind you, they were all Filipinos having a say on how a democratic process should be done in the US. There were a lot of Americans should vote for Clinton, in the same manner that there were a lot of Filipinos commenting that Brits should vote against the Brexit previously. (We tend to have a lot of say on things that are not sovereign to us, don't we?)

Earlier, just after the primaries were decided, I asked my parents who they were voting for President. They didn't like both Trump and Clinton, but they are registered Republicans. They asked me who I would vote if I were in the US and a citizen already. I said Clinton--because most probably I would register as a Democrat and a lot of things I believe in align with the Democrats more than the GOP. Eventually, and unsurprisingly, my parents voted along party lines and for Trump.

I didn't raise hell. I asked them why and my Mom told me that she could not vote for someone who is pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood, as abortion is against her Catholic faith. I didn't shake my head in disgust and disagreement; I didn't think that they voted wrong. I said, okay, understandable. And we moved on from that. I know a lot of Fil-Ams voted for Trump for one reason or another--and they are all valid reasons from bringing back jobs in America, removing certain elements from Obamacare that hurt the middle-class, bring back Americans from wars they shouldn't be fighting, and so on. I didn't call on them for voting against my preference.

It's a vastly different perspective when you're living in the country than when you're out of it. It's so easy to say for someone living in the Philippines that Clinton is the intelligent choice, because you don't pay US taxes, you don't have a loved one fighting a senseless war in some far-flung countries, you are not burdened by the increasing premiums in healthcare, and you don't live in fear that one day you'll wake up and your job is outsourced to the Philippines or India. In the same manner that you cannot say that Roxas was the only decent choice for Philippine president when you have three to ten meals a day and you can buy the latest iPhone on a whim. If you're tired of inaction, apathy, and endless rhetoric, you would see things differently.

What's happening now on Facebook is everyone throwing their perspective in the World Wide Web without seeking to understand the hundred other perspectives thrown in the mix. What's happening now is everyone is looking for someone who will agree with them, until they have amassed enough followers that becomes their wall against any criticism. What's happening now is the classic: We listen not to understand but to reply.

It's one of my otherworldly Christmas wish that people would have a chance to have a dialogue without using social media as a medium. I wish that Mocha Uson would have an un-televised, closed door dialogue with VP Leni Robredo or Cynthia Patag with President Duterte, or even Agot Isidro with the President. Do you think she would have the guts to call the President a psychopath face to face? Do you think Mocha Uson will have the guts to face up to the VP without her army of followers?

There is so much vitriol in the Internet because everyone has something to say and no one is really listening. No one tries to see it from the other side. If only people stop to listen and consider the motivations behind other people's decisions and actions, there'd be a lot less poison in the Internet and Christmas would actually mean something deeper than the fluff of parties and gifts.

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