We Are Neighbors

Ok, I don’t know if this is an embarrassing admission but this is part of my treadmill session playlist: Camouflage’s Neighbours. However outdated this song is, I cannot ignore its relevance to recent current events. Libya and the rest of the Middle East, and now Japan. The following lyrics are just striking:

White man yawning in his armchair

smiled while watching white TV.

Hundreds of people death or injured

he never understands this hysteria.

Although the song may have been intended to reflect sentiments of activism, with its reference to white man and black oppression, during the Apartheid days, it still represents the different sides of the globe in this post-new wave era. Whether we accept it or not, many of us do not grasp the full extent of an event until such time when we become active participants, or worse, victims of it.

Some call this apathy and some refer to it as Schadenfreude or the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others-–gaba in Ilonggo—or generally referred to as karma. How many would agree and admit that there is this some comforting feeling in just being home, glued in front of the TV while shaking our head at the sight of horrific footages from the trivial motorcycle accidents to the major world events as they unfold.  I also don’t know how many people exactly act out of compassion but my best bet is that there’s just a few. I for one haven’t done much. Now that’s an embarrassing admission.

***

There’s this recent discussion about armchair revolutionaries in the Philippines. According to online thread, Jim Paredes described it as people who take their advocacies only thru social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook. From this definition alone, I’m guilty. Nevertheless, while I believe that social media per se brings intangible action, there is still a collective effect brought about by all these bits of chitchats. It is because when people online become aware of what is happening and what is being done by others, they are more compelled to get their hands off the keyboard and use it to do something more productive. This has been proven during the Ondoy crisis wherein coordination between concerned groups and individuals have become more effective and efficient by utilizing the power of the social media. Therefore, it shows that when push comes to shove lots of people still have the tendency to extend actual help however they could whether they are celebrities, politicians, or just the regular Juan Dela Cruz.

So how does one turn social media into a useful tool rather than just a plain chat room? Here are five ways:

Follow the right people. Other than your pals or officemates, keep a list of trusted people (e.g., journalists) who can keep you informed of current events.

Participate actively. Sending an RT (Twitter) or a repost (Facebook) of verified information helps. It is likely that not all of your followers (or friends) follow the same people whom you do, so any important information coming from your trusted source is best relayed to them.

Do not abuse the hash tags. People on Twitter are familiar with the hash symbol (#). It is used to keep anyone track a particular discussion without having to follow certain individuals. During a crisis, one must not use a hash tag (e.g. #tsunami, #Japan, #Libya) just for the sake of attracting attention and unnecessarily flooding the timeline.

Do not spread unconfirmed reports. Just like in the conventional media, doing this doesn’t do any help. This can be avoided by following # 1.

Be sensitive. Or observe tact. A simple comment may seem harmless but some people may find it annoying or offending especially when everyone’s emotional about a recent event. Remember that not all people may share the same humor (note to self: this is for you).

***

Mood: 4/10 (Pray for Japan.)

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Author: crisn

I'm Cris Nacionales from the Philippines.

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