#TaalEruption2020: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It is when disaster strikes that we often reveal our true colors. This becomes even more so apparent with social media.

After Taal Volcano’s eruption, related posts also exploded on Facebook. There were warnings and updates provided. There were prayers offered and an emergence of more religious people – those seeing this as a sign of the end of days or a punishment of our evils ways. Some would go to the extent of attributing this to the “Tala” dance craze, I hope as a joke, but in this age of stupidity, I don’t know anymore.

True to Pinoy’s so-called resilience and fun-loving personality, some managed to come up with memes and jokes, ang hugot, to other people’s dismay claiming that disasters should not be taken lightly.

And then there are stories of kindness and bayanihan. Of those offering their cars for evacuation. Heroes cleaning windshield of fleeing vehicles. Selfless souls offering free masks, and free food, and shelter (even for animals). Groups mobilizing themselves to provide donation and much-needed support to those greatly affected by the eruption. Thankfully, these overshadow the greed of capitalists jacking up the price of face masks, of panic-stricken folks hoarding the said masks, of fear mongering fake news, and of inaction from those who should have been doing more.

As expected, in times like this, online bickering will almost always arise. We use social media as source of information, means of communication, and a platform of self-expression. Our online persona has become an extension of ourselves. The difference to in person encounter, however, is we don’t have any social cues warning us that we may be going overboard with our pronouncements leading to misunderstanding and worse, bullying or hate speech.

Social media divides us but I want to believe it’s a powerful tool that unites us, too. At the end of the day, we are all humans seeking connection, validation, and love. And I for one, am glad, that I still see humanity despite it all.

The abyss that is Black Mirror

Imagine a world where you rate people you meet on the street with five stars or less depending on your encounter. A world where a simple hashtag can judge evil people to death. A world where you can literally block people and won’t be bothered anymore as you no longer can hear nor see them.

Sounds like Science fiction but Black Mirror, a British-American TV series tackling the dark side of technology, paints a picture of a grim world that is similar to real life. It is fascinating and scary at the same time.

There’s a story about implants that can record everything a person sees, an individual recreated from his social media profile, a woman being hunted down with people just watching and taking a video on their mobile phones.

The narrative, the acting, and the production, I would rate as impressive. And I like how it’s also some kind of a social commentary on how the black mirror, the very thing you’re reading this from, pervasive as it is in our lives can lead to dystopia. Guess what, it’s not a distant future we’re talking about. It is here. Watch a few episodes and you’ll agree with me.

It made me wonder about people putting so much effort on their well-curated but fake social media profile. About online bashing; those easily condemning, putting judgement, and even cursing to death people they barely know. About our obsession over talents shows. About manipulating reality. About poetic justice. About the loss of privacy.

We’re doomed! Black Mirror made sure of that. It’s entertaining, nonetheless. And it may help us re-evaluate how we use technology and maybe, somehow, change our destined future.

Image result for black mirror

Mad World

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.” Gandhi (film), 1982

This is another movie that made me cry. Like when I watched To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and asked, “What happened to kindness?

Life is cruel. People are cruel. War in its pointlessness is inevitable. Fueled by violence, and hate, and fear. Haven’t we learned from history? Lives being reduced to mere numbers? It’s madness!

And then I saw 12 Angry Men (1957), the story of 12 jury members deliberating the guilt or acquittal of a defendant. Made me think of how our biases shape the way we judge other people. And these judgements can’t always be accurate. So in the current war against drugs in the Philippines leading to the death of suspected drug users/pushers, should I be okay with the judgement that they are deserving of this fate? Does the end really justify the means? All life is supposed to be sacred. But what do I know.

It’s a mad, mad world. Leaders making dumb decisions. Capitalists continuously thrashing the planet. Religion being used to wreak havoc. People blindly going with the flow. It’s scary what humanity is turning into. And I can’t wait for the way of truth and love to prevail real soon.