Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Speaking Out

.:The O'urne Identity:.

I don't want to do much in the way of linking in this post in the hopes that my opinions, while put in the public for all to see, will not draw nearly as much attention from the Philippine blogging community as most other entries on the recent spate of controversies that have been cropping up as of late.

I just want to have my say, then leave it be, because I'd like to think that I'm still in good standing with all parties involved in either controversy, and I want to keep it that way.

So let's tackle the first issue on the chopping board: that apparently, a certain blog has come under fire for allegedly having been ghost-written under the guise of a thirteen-year old boy who just so happens to write the same stuff his father writes about online: money-making.

I say “allegedly”, because just a year or so ago, Ateneo welcomed a thirteen-year old who was a freshman Philosophy major, so yes, no matter how unthinkable, prodigies do exist, and it would be unfair to dismiss such talent if it were truly the case. I have yet to speak to the thirteen-year old blogger in question, but since he has caused me no slight, I have no inclination to cast the first stone upon him.

But you see, the problem here runs far, far deeper than just a case of bruised egos and lamentations over identity falsification. Despite the fact that one of my branches of choice in Philosophy *is* ethics, I can assure you that in a time where the online norm is bereft of ethics, imposing a standard on the community without due ratification is, despite the noble intentions, still an unreasonable imposition. It's easy to say that the pioneers or the heavyweights should have a say how the communiy should be run, because after all, they are the ones who are incredibly invested in the community, but despite this fact, it cannot be ignored that if you play the numbers game, the pioneers and the heavyweights only account for a miniscule minority of the actual Philippine blogging community. Hades, the active, vocal members of the Philippine blogging community are a miniscule minority all the same, and to say that only these people have a say just because random Juan De La Cruz at blogspot just wanted a small corner of their world to blog and blog to their heart's content than to dip their feet in the water of the more visible community does not mean the random Juan De La Cruz should be subject to the same standards agreed upon by what may be termed as an oligarchy.

Hades, even those among the vocal minority are far from coming to a consensus with regard to an ethical standard for the Filipino blogging netizens out there. To impose such judgment on people for, assuming but not conceding, unethical blogging, while still their right, should not be an act that should be taken as representative of a prevailing standard in blogging ethics, when currently, there is no prevailing standard in blogging ethics, for better or for worse. Any pronounced judgments of support or condemnation should be merited in their own right, rather than as an attempt to impose unratified standards on the entirety of the community. Note that I am not in the least against personal opinions regarding this issue, as I myself am declaring my own opinion, all the same. What I am against is an attempt to dictate the standards of blogging for every Tomas, Diego, and Pedro out there when the only voice currently being listened to is that of an outspoken minority, myself at times included.

If the blogger is indeed using a ghost writer, then shame upon that blogger. But to say that the Philippine blogosphere is ashamed of that blogger when majority of us never even heard of his name until after the influential blog awards is just painting in too broad strokes for my tastes. If what they did was wrong, then what they did was wrong, and is just once or twice removed from all those “ekspand your pekn!s” marketers out there who spam your blogs and tagboards. Nobody's saying it's right, but to demand a sweeping morality check on the Philippine blogosphere is being a bit hasty, as the act, in my opinion, has mostly just been an impulsive one, completely oblivious to the fact that after everything has been said and done, a thirteen-year old kid is still being put through a harrowing experience, and we aren't doing any good by shouting over each other in an attempt to be heard.

When Hulk Hogan won the WCW title from Kevin Nash via the Fingerpoke of Doom (Google it to find out. I said I won't link in this post at all...), do you think he would ever be proud of his so-called title win? Even in a scripted “sport” like pro wrestling, there is still pride in capturing the top belt of your company after a good, satisfying match, even if you knew you were going to win that belt beforehand, even if every punch and kick you throw is pulled, every slam is staged, and every high spot is worked. If the blogger's win was deserved because he made that blog his own in his own way, then congratulations to him. If not, well, I guess that's just one of those Fingerpokes of Doom we will always look at in derision.

For now, however, the moral outrage is just being much ado about nothing. Not to throw the cliché that there are more pressing matters to address in the Philippine blogosphere or even in the rest of the Philippines at the moment, but that really happens to be the case. A thirteen-year old with an alleged ghostwriter, even if allegations would be true, is, quite frankly, not representative of the blogging community of the Philippines, and in the same way we tolerate other firebrands and controversy mongers in the community, there is no need to be especially scathing towards this offender in particular when we cannot even agree upon a concrete standard that is being used unilaterally, because if a thirteen-year old blogging about money-making is frowned upon, why do we laugh with and cheer on a blogger pretending to be and parodying a Cebuana maid? Why the double-standard?

.:The Misrepresentation Of Lauryn Hill:.

And, we find ourselves in yet another can of worms: the issue of misrepresentation. Now, I've seen a more blatant attempt at misrepresentation by another blogger when he attempted to turn a personl attack on him into a unilateral “terrorist” strike on bloggers at large, and while that may have been qite a punch in the gut to take (No pun intended.), hardly any furor was raised over it, save for a few who took personal offense to it, myself included.

Now, was this latest instance a misrepresentation, or was it a clash of egos, or was it the Pinoy Blogger Mafia in action, or what? Quite frankly, I think that discretion could have been practiced by not bringing the issue into public light, but now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, I'm glad that the parties concerned have at least smoothened that hump over. Still, there were valid points on either side, but when you get down to it, I believe that someone who has been as supportive of the blogging community as the one who was accused would not have done such an act maliciously in an attempt at self-promotion. It wasn't self-promotion, and to some extent, her grasp on the matter qualified her to speak about Philippine blogging, and unlike a Filimon Barbassa whom news outlets blindly turn to whenever comics are being talked about (What?!? You call Filbar's representative of comics?!?), she has earned her stripes to be able to say something about the Philippine blogging community.

Whatever the case may be, there was, I believe, no malicious attempt on her part to misrepresent the Philippine blogging community. She gave examples of the steps the community has made, and of course, what would she be more qualified to speak about but the steps she herself has been directly involved in? Is this ego, or simply a matter of choosing your battles? Would it not be a greater injustice if she decided to subsume other projects and feign knowledge about them, only to be jeeringly called out by those who feel that they weren't given a fair shake? Akin to how the WWE gave a tribute to Chris Benoit immediately after knowing about his death, she was in a no-win situation. Had the WWE not given Benoit a tribute, wrestling fans would crucify them for their insensitivity to the loss of a great wrestler. Since they gave Benoit a tribute, fans crucified them for honoring a killer.

So what can be learned here? What can be learned here is that while we are a community, we are still a community of individuals. While we, to some extent, represent any affiliations or leanings we count ourselves in, the best thing we can truly represent would be ourselves, and that should be respected. I've been blogging for five years already, I've won the 2003 Best Philippine Blog in the Flying Chair Asia Blog Awards, but I never took it upon myself to be the icon of Philippine Blogging, even during my best years of blogging.

Even as a mentalist, and even as the only mentalist who is an active member of the blogging circles in the Philippines, I still do not take it upon myself to be the be-all and end-all of mentalism in any shape or form, contrary to my aspirations to be the “Ambassador” of Philippine magic may tell you. In wanting to represent the Philippines in magic in the online world, I do little in way of praising myself, and will always point back to my contemporaries, without whom I would be a lone crusader for the elevation of respect for the art form in a country that regards it as child's play.

In writing this post, do I make an attempt to grab the limelight and pontificate in a way to draw attention to me? It's easy to say I did, despite my deliberate avoidance of using links to aid in making this post searchable, but again, I point back to the two points I've been trying to make regarding these controversies:

1.I am very ambivalent towards any attempt to impose a standard by an oligarchy on anyone, and:

2.The best representation I am qualified to make is a representation of myself, which is why I persist in relating my explicitation to myself.

Now is the time to ask ourselves why we do what we do for the blogging community, and the moment we find slight or envy or greed or resentment in our motivations, it is time to reconsider why we do what we do. As a Kantian, I believe that doing the right thing is a motivation in and by itself, and so while I persist in this belief system, I in no way find it conducive to impose my standards upon others, because that would undermine their motivation to do the right thing.

With that, I get off my soapbox, and I hope to see some of you guys around on Thursday.

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