It has always bothered me how people on Facebook can like/react to links based on the headline alone and obviously without reading and comprehending the full text of the article linked to.
A friend told me once it has to do with the unholy alliance between Facebook and the local telco, Smart ‐ free data to post/browse/interact on Facebook but clicking links to external sites are not covered by the free data. Result — people liking/reacting/sharing linked articles without having read them.
So, yesterday, I did a little experiment. I looked for posts against the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and posted as replies the links to RA 289 and the Philippine Star article from my previous blog entry. The results were mixed but mostly predictable.
Two friends who I am sure are not on “free data” replied based on the substance of the linked articles.
The rest, however, mostly friends of friends, reacted predictably. Some replied with no reference at all to the linked articles. Either they didn’t bother clicking and reading (must be the “free data” thing) or, unable to appreciate the direct adverse effect of the two articles on their anti-Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, they chose not to react to it all.
The second kind of reaction is more interesting though just as predictable. More predictable, in fact. There were those replied not based on the content of the linked articles but with rhetorics, sloganeering and emotional appeal. Like, you know, the Marcos burial is a moral and not a legal issue (duh!), how dare I say that Marcos is entitled to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, what kind of a lawyer am I, etcetera, etcetera. As if I wrote RA 289 and the additional implementing guidelines, conveniently ignoring the fact that the latter were laid down by Cory Aquino, the former president that they fanatically idolize.
I have two theories:
- The Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is an emotional issue, people are fueled by anger and, as a result, they turn a blind eye to any other way of understanding and dealing with the issue.
- People just want the “likes” and other positive reactions, and never mind if their statements are totally wrong to begin with. So long as they appear popular, that’s it.
The first theory is easy to illustrate even more clearly. You take an issue like the West Philippine Sea and you get Filipinos cursing the Chinese as a race. Well, the Chinese government is not the entire Chinese race, but does that make any difference to Filipinos angry over the Chinese encroachment in the West Philippine Sea? Of course not. And the more rabid their anti-Chinese sentiments, the more “likes” their posts get. And that says a lot about the mentality of people.
It’s tempting to say, “It’s so Filipino”, but I read comment threads in enough foreign news websites to know that the importance of having social media posts and comments “liked” appears to be true even among foreign nationals. Many people find comfort in others’ approval and that is more important to them than contributing something truly substantial to a discussion.
Interesting. Sad. Scary too that stupidity will eventually lead to the extinction of mankind.