Take a second and realize how powerful social media is today.
No doubt that it is on boom for the past years. Social media has rapidly increased our access from current events to showbiz issues and everything in between. Internet has made us access the rest of the world. With one click, and a scroll you’d get to know what is happening even if its far behind the other side of the globe. It can target capabilities that are becoming more and more advanced with the help of reaching the right audience at the right time, and ultimately get them to take action. It can be any avenue, for any kind of content users want to exploit to the world or can be used as a platform to interact with each other.
Mobile technologies make it easier for ordinary people to communicate widely, in real time, but from all its positive addition to the society it is also observed that this is where morally undesirable behaviors occur. Today, by means of a single social media post, the reputations of people can easily and instantly be destroyed or damaged. Not innocent, even if not proven guilty.
In this blog, I would like to narrow down the vast topics of social media and the focus on public shaming thru the internet and its effects.
Last term, during my Ethics and Public Policies class, my final paper (together with Gione) somehow discussed what social media is capable of. And I think, it is somehow related to this one. If you want to check out personalities who took advantage of the possible opportunities amidst cyberbullying, you can visit the website here.
PUBLIC SHAMING – humiliation is the dishonoring showcase of a person especially in a public place. Shame is associated with the feeling of wanting to avoid, hide or disappear; to minimise the threat to the self in a social context. Shaming through the use of social networks reached its inevitable peak. According to Ronson, Social media made shaming, common than ever (2015.)
Take the case of Alma Moreno, a Filipina actress and politician who was undeniably in the limelight of social media illiterate shaming for quite some time. November of 2015, senatorial hopeful Alma Moreno was interviewed by Karen Davila for ANC’s “Headstart.” The hashtag, #PrayForAlma was trending the same night and the next few nights after. To give you an idea, here is why:
1. Her experience in the political arena
KAREN DAVILA (host): What makes Alma Moreno qualified to be a senator?
ALMA MORENO: Siguro, iyong experience ko bilang legislation (sic). Councilor ako ng Parañaque for 9 years, naging first lady ako for 9 years. (Maybe my experience as legislation. I was councilor of Parañaque for 9 years, I was first lady for 9 years.)
2. Her stand on same-sex marriage
DAVILA: Same-sex marriage?
DAVILA: Why not?
MORENO: Parang di natin matanggap naman na parehong ano magpapakasal. (It’s unacceptable for homosexuals to get married.)
DAVILA: Is it a sin for you?
MORENO: Yes. Pero yung mag-ano okay lang. Pero yung magpakasal, parang hindi ko…(Yes. But to do it, it’s okay. But to get married, I’m not…)
3. Her unarticulated advocacy
DAVILA: If you won a Senate seat, what would be your advocacy in the Senate?MORENO: More on sa kababaihan. (More on women.)
DAVILA: Like what?
MORENO: Boses ng mga kababaihan (Voice of women), like Magna Carta of Women.
DAVILA: But then the law exists.
MORENO: Yeah nandun na, pero may mga bagay na hindi na-implement. (Yes, it’s there, but there are things that were not implemented.)
DAVILA: Like what?
MORENO: Teka muna! (Wait!) (laughs)
4. Her apparent amusement with the Reproductive Health Law
DAVILA: Are you for the Reproductive Health Law?
MORENO: Na? Oo. (Which? Yes.) (laughs)
DAVILA: Yes in all forms, or yes with reservations?
MORENO: Yes, with reservations. (laughs)
DAVILA: What are the reservations?
MORENO: Kailangan pa bang sagutin? (Do I still have to answer that?) (laughs)
DAVILA: Of course, you’re running for the Senate.
MORENO: Ha… (What?)
(later in the interview)
DAVILA: Ano sa RH Law ang ayaw mo o gusto mo? (What in the RH Law do you like or dislike?)
MORENO: Ahhh… teka nawawala ako. Hindi ko pa, actually hindi pa ako napupunta doon. Pills! (Ahhh…wait, I’m getting lost. I haven’t, actually I haven’t been there.)
5. Her birth control suggestion
MORENO: ‘Yung mahihirap, dapat talaga mag-control kasi lalong naghihirap sa dami, pag maramihan na. (The poor should really exercise control because they become poorer when there are many of them.)
DAVILA: So how would they control? How would you do it?
MORENO: Kailangan laging bukas ang ilaw! (The light should always be on.) (laughs)
7. Her take on the Bangsamoro Basic Law
DAVILA: Ano ang paniniwala mo sa Bangsamoro Basic Law? Kapag nanalo kang senador, boboto ka ba pro-BBL o anti-BBL? (What are your beliefs on the Bangsamoro Basic Law? If you win as senator, will you vote pro-BBL or anti-BBL?)
MORENO: Palagay ko pag-aralan, sa ‘kin ngayon ah, pag-aralan munang mabuti. Kasi okay ‘yung BBL ‘pag anuhin natin, ‘yung kasi ang makikinabang, dapat lang makinabang, ang mga Filipino. Kaya dapat siguraduhin natin ‘yung BBL, kung ano ang meron dun. (I think it should be studied. For me, at present, it should be studied carefully. Because the BBL, when we think about it, the one who should benefit should benefit, the Filipinos. That’s why we should ensure the BBL, what it has.)
The 24-minute interview drew flak from the netizens because of Moreno’s mind boggling answers and un-sure political arguments. The video of her interview became viral, as netizens started churning out countless versions of memes that poke fun at her:
and even the messaging app, Viber, had her on stickers:
SCREENSHOTS COURTESY OF @MNANICAS AND @EPALSOFMANILA
But, on the other side of the coin, while many were disgusted with Moreno’s answers, some were on the opposite side saying that Davila should have been more tolerant and forgiving to her guest, telling that her aggressiveness and being the “smart-ass” was uncalled for during the interview.
In TV Network interviews, Moreno said the incident has taken its toll not only on her but also on her family especially on her children, who she said also felt slighted by the deluge of memes and comments from the much-lampooned interview.
Alma also pointed out the fact that she was hurt by the amount of criticism and ridicule she received online and offline but took a stand that even though she is not as brilliant and intelligent as other candidates, it does not make her less of a genuine public server that deserves a seat in the senate.
Meanwhile, Karen Davila’s instagram account is being flooded with Alma’s supporters and other netizens that accused of humiliating the former actress on purpose. Karen Davila replied, “When someone is running for higher office – they must have an understanding of issues. This is a standard we owe to the Filipino people,”.
Interviews, headlines of newspapers and tabloids and posts throwing shade from the two camps was not all the reason why this issue was all hyped up. A parody twitter account, @LovelinessAlma spawned the twitterverse and became one of the highlights of the 2016 presidential elections.
Here is why:
It’s a blatant statement to say that the actress was “dumb and incompetent” during the interview, but it was totally different story when this parody account dishes out vapid and vacuous answers
After being quiet in quite some time, Moreno’s daughter can no longer take the shaming her Mom is getting. She reported the said twitter account, then the issue died. The Twitter account has been deactivated, but screenshots of its tweets still circulate online.
It died when Alma Moreno lost the elections, it died when the media stopped talking about it and it died because people shifted their attention. But, it did not end there. Political shaming was more powerful than ever. Viewers became critics. One wrong word, and viola! You’re trending. People realized that their power is not just to vote, but to participate in convicting people and submerge in alleged misdeeds.
Communicative Capitalism was present when they want to say more, to make their voices be heard and their judgments even louder. Current events are always an easy topic to discuss. But there comes a time when too much discussion is a bad thing, especially if it’s obvious that you’re trying to piggy-back on someone else’s misery. With social media and plenty of band wagons for people to hop onto, it’s not crazy to start looking for a sneak attack. People always has a lot to say, a lot to add on, crazy comments and unsolicited advices to just be a part of the trend.
Speaking of which, who would not cringe on slut-shaming on Lila de Lima, who is according to the president is, “not only screwing her driver; but also the nation,”. Appalled by the misogyny in the House of Representatives, when the investigation for Sen. Leila De Lima started, what stood out is the constant mention of her sexual relation with her driver. It seemed like the hearing is about divulging her private life to the public. Matters to be taken in an executive session are those affecting the national interest. Definitely, that’s not the one that affects national interest or national security. Her alleged sex tape was a sure hit not only inside the senate but in the world of internet memes that people overlooked the reason why she is in trial and picked up the one thing that will trend.
PHOTO COURTESY OF POLITICS.COM.PH
De Lima got a backup from fellow Filipinas that was against slut-shaming. #Everywoman was up and trending. “I would like to testify in the HOR. It was me in the sex video. #EveryWoman” The social media movement against slut-shaming and violence against women in politics, initiated by various women activists. Women legislators, professionals, and millennials signed on to separate but similar statements against the illegality of showing the alleged video in public, and the sexual harassment and bullying.
Participatory civic was cystal clear when netizens are mobilising across social media to speak out against slut-shaming and violence. It was not an endorsement for the senator but on taking a stand against attacks on women. It was not an ally of De Lima per se, but merely standing up for rights. The campaign was ruling over social media sites, encouraging everyone to take a stand against this kind of gender shaming.
Most of the time, the things that go through our minds shouldn’t necessarily go out of our mouths – or our fingers, in this age. Internet speech can be crueler and cut deeper wounds than our real-life interactions, in large part due is to our l distance from the attackers and second is, we do not have the power to defend ourselves from different online reactions.
Social media overcome all barriers between us in terms of distance and time. However we should ensure that this revolution brings us closer, rather than divide us. While it has undoubtedly revolutionized our communication and brought the world together, there are also multiple fallouts due to our actions.
Online shaming is like a cramped one way road with no u-turn slots. You have the power to go straight, but you don’t have control on who follows you. And the trickiest part, and you don’t know how far that road will get you. It can destroy careers, deprive social life and in extreme cases, depression and suicide. All it takes is one a screenshot of your post or interview it and your life as you know it will never be the same again. Old life blown away in the blink of an eye simply because of an opinion/idea that’s not in line with the rest of the world.Social media is so powerful that whatever idea we share through them can totally cement people’s thinking.
The great deal of social media is that it gives everybody a voice, a say on issues. Your opinion can be heard. You don’t need to be journalist, a news anchor, or be a powerful individual – you just need a social media profile.