I received a very telling comment on one of my opinion columns this week, that I thought I should share.
I’m not doing this out of spite or vengeance, only because it seems that a lot of people seem to think the same way and I thought it would be useful to explain why people like myself write what we write, and what motivates us to take a specific stance on a particular subject.
I could have just written the comment off as the rantings of a random troll, which is what I’d normally have done. First off, as you can see, it’s barely even in the English language. So before I begin let’s engage in a bit of translation, shall we? I’ve included a screenshot of the original comment just so readers can see that I haven’t changed the meaning, rather just corrected the grammar.
So here’s my modified version of the original comment, anyone who feels that I’ve changed the meaning of the original version can go ahead and roast me in the comments below:
“Journalists are like beggars, always looking for ways to get attention and free stuff. The issue with the PH is that there are too many jouurnalists and not enough writers. Anyone can make themselves famous overnight by taking an opposing point of view on an already famous topic.”
While this is an interesting perspective I’d like to start out by taking a look at a few definitions. First off, “free stuff.” I wish. I’ve never run an article under my byline with the promise of third-party compensation. In the event that a promotor, tour company, hotel or anything else along those lines does offer me an incentive, it is clearly declared in the article.
The next definition I’d like to look at is the deliniation that the commenter draws between writing and journalism, where he says there are too many journalists and not enough writers. As point of fact there are some extremely good journalists in this country, all of whom are also (by their very definition) writers. After all, what is a journalist if not a professional writer? So on this point I am left confused.
The final definition that I’d look to look at is “opposite points of view” (which our commenter refers to as [sic] a Opposite story). Is there anything wrong with people having differences of opinion and choosing (daring?) to share those differences of opinion?
The article that incited this comment was just a reiteration of the various threats that Duterte has made to all and sundry, and the consequences thereof. How is it that simply highlighting these points makes me a beggar?
The problem with the overall discussion that is taking place in the Philippines is that people are spending too much time attacking the commenter, not the situation. The old adage “to shoot the messenger” springs to mind.
Anyone who has a personal interest in this should have a read up on China’s famous “Wu Mao” or 50 cent party. With the emergence of social media it’s become far too easy to divert a narrative away from what matters, and the danger when that happens is that people can get away with doing things that they wouldn’t do if those in a position to stop them weren’t too busy fighting among themselves.
While I’m not suggesting that the various sides of the discussion in the Philippines are being paid to take their stand, the end result is the same.