In COM618 class’ previous discussion, Chris Ingraham and Joshua Reeves argue on the relationship of new media technologies that have brought about certain states of moral panic. In the production of moral panic, many have participated in what Ingraham and Reeves call a “culture of shaming” in which people “persecute” others whose beliefs, practices or behaviors may seem foreign or unacceptable to them.
“Perhaps the most interesting example of this shift is the increasingly common phenomenon of shaming. As Peters (2013) of Slate has recognized, our society’s tendency toward shaming has reached epic proportions”
– Ingraham and Reeves, 2016
Because of these new technologies, particularly social media, we have been exposed to various criticisms on beliefs, practices and behaviors even way beyond what we are currently aware of. Who would have thought that things like tattoos, salaries, privileges, and even singlehood and breast-feeding have garnered shaming posts by people on social media? Truly, new technologies have made life more convenient by granting us easier and quicker ways of communication, making the world a smaller place. Yet, with the rise of the culture of shaming, this makes us wonder, has it not only made the world smaller, but also more judgmental?
The Culture of Shaming in the Philippines
The Philippines has been recognized as one of the top countries that uses social media. Common forms of shaming have risen, such as slut-shaming (judging someone on being provocative based on one’s actions that do not necessarily jive with the conservative norm, especially with how one dresses and the assumption that one has had many sexual encounters), smart-shaming (dismissing one as a smart aleck or know-it-all.
Who does not get annoyed by initiating an intellectual conversation, only to be replied with “Ikaw na!” or “Eh di wow!”). There are also forms of religion-shaming, fat-shaming, and even doctor-shaming (posts of doctors falling asleep or being accused of negligence during their duty).
While these forms of shaming are considered negative criticisms by netizens and may still be debatable, another form of shaming has been rampant lately amongst Filipinos. It is done in the form of reporting an incident one has experienced on social media, causing the instant attention of many, all the more once the post has been viewed and shared by more netizens. Common reports by Filipino netizens include harassment and cat-callers (getting whistled at, given lustful looks or bawdy comments by strangers), undisciplined drivers and other rude individuals being caught in the act, as well as acts of corruption done by government officials, policemen and traffic officers. This, perhaps, is the call for individuals to ‘do something’, as mentioned by Ingraham and Reeves, which is an effect of the moral panic that has risen in the world of new technologies, particularly social media.
See article link here: http://kickerdaily.com/posts/2014/12/watch-netizen-takes-video-to-stop-mmda-enforcers-from-extorting-money/
For instance, JB Adalia’s article in 2014 on Kickerdaily.com talks about a man named David Kilpatrick, who would repeatedly get caught and extorted an amount of P500 by traffic enforcers despite following traffic rules. He finally got the chance to record it happening for the nth time, which he posted for the public to see.
A group page on Facebook entitled “Catcalled in the Philippines” exists where netizens can share their own experiences of harassment to the awareness of this community. The Facebook group is completely uncensored, and really allows members to share photos of individuals who have harassed them. Last January, a woman shared a screenshot of a Facebook user who allegedly used her profile picture and posted it with a lewd comment.
See video here: https://www.facebook.com/406150579588312/videos/540070209529681/
Last October 2016, a video went viral on social media when a netizen posted the incident of a motorcycle driver who did a counter flow on the road and encountered the netizen’s vehicle face to face, only to be the one angered by the incident that he himself caused. The motorcycle driver can even be seen violating rules of not wearing protective gear, together with a lady riding behind him. The post has gained over 1.5 million views, 9.5 k comments, and more than 13k shares online.
The driver was then identified on the page by many as a certain “Edgardo” (mentioned by one comment by Kenneth Paul Mayor Dado), who was said to be driving the motorcycle with his mother behind at the time this video was taken. Both can be seen completely oblivious and without remorse despite causing a delay to the netizen who was driving on the right lane. The driver even flashes a dirty finger at the netizen as soon as he is caused to halt in front of the netizen’s car. “Ikaw lang makiki counterflow ikaw pa galit,” comments Anton Tolosa.
Sila Pa Ang Galit!
With the help of social media, of course, reports of these incidents are escalated at a quicker rate to authorities. Not to mention, instant fame is granted for all the wrong reasons as well as “haters” and critics gained for the person involved in the incident once these videos become viral on social media. One would think that these would immediately stir the public now into becoming more careful about how they act, for fear that their wrong actions might be seen on social media with their identities openly laid out to millions of netizens.
This was not the case for a man named Kirstoff Guinto, who posted a 6:53 minute video on his Facebook page last January 30, 2017. The video went viral online, where netizens watched Guinto halting to a bus that had just done a counter flow along the busy Regalado Road in Quezon City.
As Guinto stops together with the bus, registered under Rainbow Express with the plate number TXF 713, he first says in the video, “….so ako pa ang may kasalanan, siya pa ang galit sa akin. Wait nalang tayo kung anong mangyayari. Lahat ng tao nagagalit sa kanya oh” (“….so I’m the one at fault here, he’s the one who is angry at me. Let’s just wait what’ll happen. Everyone is getting mad at him.”) while panning the video towards cars slowing down, checking out the bus that had caused the traffic. The driver shows absolutely no effort in moving back or moving to his respective lane and completely just stops in front of Guinto’s vehicle. Guinto reverses his vehicle a bit, to which the bus driver moves forward right away (a perfect scenario to which Filipinos would reply: “So sino ang mag-aadjust???” / “So who’s going to adjust???”). Guinto continues to video reactions from passing drivers, who show disappointment and disgust at the bus driver, who still shows no plans of moving. “Dito nalang po ako matutulog.” (“I’m just going to sleep here”), Guinto jokes.
Guinto then gets off from his vehicle to approach a traffic enforcer. By this time, the bus is seen already starting to move to the opposite lane, much to many drivers’ dismay as numerous honks can be heard. Guinto then continues to tell the traffic enforcer, “Baka pwede namang gawan ng paraan yan….Hindi tayo kasi pwedeng ganito habang buhay….Siya pa ang galit….Siya pa ang galit.” (Maybe something can be done about this….We can’t always be like this forever….To think he’s the one who’s angry….He’s the one who’s angry.”)
A white car from the opposite road then stops, and the driver angrily enters the scene. He starts pointing at the bus driver and curses him, calling him abusive, and pointing at the road where he stops at, reminding him where he is. The man then brings out his phone and takes photos of the bus, the driver, and even the traffic enforcer and bus conductor to document. The traffic enforcer does the same. By this time, Guinto mentions that even the passengers of the bus are already angry at him. “Sino ba tama dito?” (“Who’s right here?”). Surprisingly, Guinto maintains his calm demeanor while joking, until he gets provoked by the bus driver and passengers and he starts cursing as well. He finally enters his car while the bus moves past him, and the video shows the bus driver threatening Guinto by pointing at him, bringing out a steel stick at him, then flashes a dirty finger at him. The video pans towards the passengers who curse at Guinto and also flash dirty fingers at him.
Screenshots from Kristoffer Guinto’s video on Facebook
This particular video became viral not only because it shows an incident of road abuse which the public must be aware of and be alerted to authorities, but it also brought out arguments from more netizens who sided with Guinto and agreed with him that it was definitely the bus driver’s fault for doing a completely unnecessary counter flow, and yet the most interesting part here was how the bus driver reacted with much pride and even violence towards the person he has inconvenienced. To the dismay of many, even the passengers displayed unfavorable reactions.
The Netizens Speak
Guinto’s video garnered more than 3 million views, 96k reactions, 91k shares and 25k comments. As one scrolls through the comments and reactions to the post, there are, without a doubt, more affirmation towards Guinto for his demeanor, while the bus driver has earned himself negative comments
The Media React
As expected, the media caught a hold of the viral video, causing articles to be written and posted. The very next day after Guinto posted the video, GMA News Online posted an article saying that a complaint has already been filed by a group of commuters against Rainbow Express. However, the transportation company still has not issued any statement regarding the issue yet.
The following day, ABS-CBN News posted an article, following up on the incident. In the article, the bus driver is identified as Alberto Agustin, and his bus conductor, Desiderio Flores, who both work for Rainbow Bus. It also mentions LTFRB Spokesperson Aileen Lizada saying that they are still looking into Rainbow Bus, and if they see any more violations done in their operations, the franchise could be lost despite operating until June 17, 2018. Lizada also talks about possibly recommending specific sanctions such as suspension or cancellation of the driver’s license with the LTO.
Surprisingly, according to LTO’s website, “May Huli Ba?”, which allows users to encode their plate numbers and check if they have done any violations, the Rainbow Bus with the plate number TXF 713 driven by Agustin is reported to have had 11 violations already.
Finally, GMA News Online posts the next day, announcing that the driver, Alberto Agustin has been suspended for 30 days with a hearing to be conducted with LTFRB on February 15.
After this, no other article has been posted on any sites or featured on television news. The ripples and repercussions made were considered to have existed when the video was posted, which eventually led to media coverage. Unfortunately, this cannot be considered news that has died a not-so “natural death” for the reason that no conclusion has been made after the suspension of the driver.
It just…died. What happened to the February 15 hearing with LTFRB?
Kirstoff Guinto’s video post spoke for itself, and gained publicity on its own, pushed further by the media in the forms of news articles and news television features. However, there was no closure to the incident, which makes us wonder, did the authorities just let Agustin go? If he only got suspended, will he continue to drive buses after 30 days? Did he even learn anything from the incident? How about sanctions made towards Rainbow Bus? This part, we can say, lies on the media to inform the audience. But just like many other viral posts and videos which have gained media coverage in the news (See: “Crazy yellow Kia driver” who nearly bulldozed through traffic enforcers’ vehicles, the Innova driver who hits a motorcycle while turning left at an intersection and hits another motorcycle while trying to make a run for it, among many others.)
Who Gets the Blame?
We already know who’s at fault here.
Actually, in this Game of Shame comes the question: Who has the biggest responsibility? Some would say, of course it would be the transport authorities and government because they have to do their jobs. The government must properly promulgate and enforce traffic laws, to hire and train their traffic enforcers to be strict, always keep an eye out for violators, and most of all, to enforce the necessary disciplinary measures when the situation requires it. As for the transport companies and authorities, they must make sure that their employees follow the traffic rules set by the government, to be responsible for their actions and their passengers. Most of all, if they make mistakes, they must be reliable and immediately accept and act upon it, not defend their wrongdoings and act entitled. Private vehicles, too, are not exempted from this.
Citizens, in turn, are given the widest range of communication channels to choose from. This is where resourcefulness is placed on the table, where they can instantly report incidents of violations at any moment and in any way, may it be from their videos or photos on their mobile phones, a Facebook live video, a Tweet, a post on Snapchat, or even just a call or email to authorities. Just like the viral video by Kirstoff Guinto, this is one form of what can be considered as a form shaming
(complete with commentaries from Guinto himself and the random car driver who went down), yet it is used to spark awareness and necessary action by authorities, rather than to spark judgment and unnecessary criticism from other netizens.
Finally, what I can say in my opinion with regards to the question previously stated is this: the biggest responsibility is perhaps weighed upon the media. As many of us would expect, the media would most likely be the one to say in a situation like this, “We’ll take it from here”. It is greatly responsible for sustaining news like these within the mass consciousness. Again, a viral video becomes viral on its own through the users of social media, these so-called netizens, yet the “maintenance” for this would be from the media. The media would then be expected to report any updates to follow up on the events after the incident. According to the Agenda Setting Theory, the media choose what is what and who is who, what is in or out, pretty much what viewers see on television.
Ingraham and Reeves finally argue in their article, “After all, more people really can broadly communicate and ‘participate’ than ever before. Yet our efforts to do so more often than not make but the scantest of ripples on the sea of information around us. In turn, the longing to ‘make oneself heard’ and to ‘do something’ becomes ever more intensified.”
With incidents like these reported, I honestly can say that new technologies are not as detrimental as they seem in the culture of moral panic. Perhaps if used correctly, and in consideration of the wider public, we can avoid this so-called “orgy of feeling” by providing information that raise issues that matter in today’s society, are of great substance, and most of all, not only provokes thought but also action. Just like we have seen how Guinto’s video became viral and brought about instant media coverage and was quickly escalated authorities, netizens and the media can definitely work together in motivating the government and certain companies involved to take action much faster and to be more effective in upholding their duties and responsibilities.
Featured Image taken from: https://diversityhuman.com/hollywood/2017/01/31/rainbow-express-bus-driver-counter-flow-video