Why I No Longer Engage in Political Banters in Social Media

Political banters

The next few months will be stressful once again as the official campaign period for the national elections will start.

Friends, families, acquaintances, and even strangers will once again battle it out in cyberspace, mainly in social media, on who should sit on the highest position of the land.

During the 2016 Presidential Elections and 2019 Midterm Elections, I learned a lot from my political discourses and arguments in social media, particularly on Facebook. 

Aside from knowing that it is unhealthy, frustrating, and exhausting, I also learned other lessons. Here are some:

Many Filipinos still believe in a false dichotomy in Philippine politics.

We see this all the time from posts and memes on social media that national politics is only a battle of two families.

They usually say that if you don’t support their candidate, you support the other. However, this faulty logic misses the point since our world is not in black and white or, in this case, red and yellow.

I found this argument superficial and failed to understand the more complex political structure. Unfortunately, so many people still believe this.

You can’t educate anyone who doesn’t want to.

A common argument regarding political arguments in social media is the idea of “educating” the other.

However, no matter how hard we try and how many facts we show, we can never educate someone who is solely relying on memes, Tiktok, and YouTube videos to support their claims.

Similar to how we learned from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, it is crucial to admit that we still have a lot to learn.

The verified information is already out there. We just have to read them. Remember that what kind of information we take becomes a part of who we are—garbage in, garbage out. 

We cannot have a better frame of mind if we’re just continuously absorbing junk from social media.

So, when we try to “educate” someone, make sure that we, ourselves, are also willing to be educated. Remember that learning is a two-way street.

Our politics is a reflection of our character.

Whom we support and denounce speaks greatly not of our candidate’s character but ours. It is not as simple as “Politika lang naman yan” or “Respect my opinion.”

Passionately supporting a candidate with a proven history of corruption, human rights violations, or dishonesty will reveal what characteristics are important to you.

For example, I know several supporters of a candidate with disqualification issues. And I can attest that they have questionable characters and compromised values – like their stand on the matter of life, taxes, and even as simple as honesty and human decency.

On the other hand, the people I respect and have shown great character support the candidate with a demonstrated history of public service, transparency, and integrity.

So, whether for or against, whoever we campaign tells greatly of who we are. So arguing with people with compromised character is just a waste of time.

Starve the Trolls. Don’t engage.

Many social media sites turned from connecting people virtually into a giant echo chamber and propaganda machine. 

If you’ve watched “The Great Hack” on Netflix, then you have already known that social media is a great place to plant seeds of conflict and division among the masses.

With the world becoming more and more connected through social media, it’s ironic that we, as a people, have become more divided than ever.

Then there are the troll farms that some political personas hire to increase their engagements, attack specific individuals, and even erode people’s trust with fact-based media.

It’s just sad that real people are doing this dirty work in exchange for money and even defending their work as “trabaho lang.”

So, since most troll farms and keyboard armies get paid from engagements, try to avoid engaging them, even if your whole body wants to.

You can also check their accounts to see if they are just recently created, how many friends or followers they have, and their usual activities. Blocking and reporting them is much better than engaging them.

Take the fight from online to offline.

The real battle is not on the Internet where both sides can’t see who they’re engaging eye-to-eye. Maybe, that is why many people get the high of engaging strangers in social media. They can’t see the human behind the screen.

So the best way to promote a future with good governance is to get the discussions in the physical world. Talk with your family, your friends, and even strangers. Don’t just give lectures, but also listen to them.

The goal of the campaign period is not to turn an already decided voter’s pick but to engage the undecided.

Final Thought:

The real battle will not happen in social media. It will happen on the ground. We need to stop wasting our precious time and energy on unfruitful exchanges in social media. Sometimes, there are just moments when we have to agree to disagree and move on.

The goal is not to convince people to vote for our candidate but to understand where they are coming from. 

I think everyone wants the same thing – a better Philippines and a better life for the future. But having an excellent and responsive government is not the only goal. It should also empower the people to do and act better – not just for ourselves, but for the children yet to be born.

Remember that we are entitled to our own opinions, but never on facts. So be critical, do your own research. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, and YouTube.

For every vote we cast, we are betting for the future we want to have. So, vote wisely. 

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:4-5

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