Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Problem With The Problem With Blogging...

.:I'm Not Anonymous, So I Feel No Guilt Responding To You At All...:.

Dear Ms. Malu Fernandez,

In your article entitled "The Problem With Blogging", I noted your sweeping statements against bloggers in general, punctuated by your usage of the infantile "get a life" card, as well as your self-aggrandizing statement that you started a "trend" of eliciting nasty comments because nasty comments existed long, long ago. You weren't the first, you sure as Hades wouldn't be the last.

In case you're wondering who on God's green Earth I am, then allow me to briefly introduce myself.

My name is Marcelle Fabie, 24 years old, currently taking up Masters in Philosophy in Ateneo de Manila University. I specialize in ethics, and I have been a blogger since 2002. I am not hiding behind a pseudonym. I have been recognized as the Philippine's best blogger in 2003 by the Flying Chair Asian Blog Awards. Unlike most other "big name bloggers", as you term them, however; I am far from a professional blogger. I blog solely as a hobby, and I am going to (respectfully) respond to your assertions point by point here, without having to resort to sophomoric insults regarding your looks or your atrocious grammar.

It is my hope that somehow, through this civilized response, you will learn to be a little less hasty to make the comments you have made recently. Quite frankly, I find your sweeping statements to be extremely incendiary, almost as if you were just trying to bait violent reactions from the blogging community. While I recognize that this puts your name high up on searches by dint of the sheer volume of reactions to your writing, it does make me wonder what motivations are behind this act. Surely, a journalist of your stature is not in need of attention again? I'm sure you are such an esteemed individual that you have better things to do than deliberately incite ire just so you would feel relevant to the world again, right?

.:The Article In Italics, My Responses In Blue:.

Just this morning I got a text telling me to check out some blog with juicy gossip about the so called “Gucci Gang” curiously enough I logged on and read all the gossip and juicy details. Whether or not the stories were true I didn’t really care to find out nor do I care to be involved. It makes no difference in my life who did what to whom it was just a leisure gossip read and I was just one of the many people who read the blog but halfway through I became quite disturbed as it made me reminiscent of the numerous blogs I was once the hot topic of.

The blog in question, of course, is the now-closed Brian Gorrell blog that blasted Tim Yap, Celine Lopez, and DJ Montano. I never really wrote about that because I personally found it petty, but I can understand why it generated so much discussion the past week. Of this much, I find myself in agreement with Ms. Fernandez on, although I never bothered reading the blog in question because descriptions of it alone turned me off already.

Unfortunately, here, we see the beginnings of a persecution complex, as Ms. Fernandez quickly changes topics and recalls the time she earned the ire of bloggers at large due to her irresponsible comments against OFW's. From the first paragraph alone, I was already apprehensive, because it was clear that she was already going to get on her soapbox to take some swipes at the bloggers who didn't like what she had to say the last time. This seemed like a chance to grab some attention, and admittedly, counting this reaction and all the others, if that was her intent, she hit it right out of the park.

I always believe that you have to be able to take it as well as you dish it out, but I'll be damned if I wasn't reminded of this when I read her opening paragraph.

Before I go any further I must stress the point that this is not about my previous issue, but simply the point of view of someone who has been a victim of vicious blogging and blogging as a new communication medium. To those of you who are mass/volume or dense (that’s the physics formula for density to those who are clueless) again, I repeat this is not a reaction toward my past actions.

For every "vicious" blogger, there was a level-headed one who was merely questioning the necessity of the vitriol Ms. Fernandez leveled against OFW's in general. I had some choice words for OFW's, but it was tempered by the fact that it wasn't a sweeping statement. I am by no means a journalist, but when I know certain groups could be angered, I know better than to lump everyone into one homogenous category.

The cute attempt at wittiness by calling "clueless" people "mass/volume" doesn't go unnoticed. Normally, after an apology, people take the high road and just avoid getting into trouble. But not when it's good for publicity, of course! I'm sure he would agree.

Yes, I refuse to correct her grammar. What am I, an English teacher? ;) Besides, other people have already done that, so I'd only be repeating what's already been said about her command of the language.

So let me continue, first of all I believe in the freedom of speech. By all means say what you need to say. Unfortunately for most of the bloggers without advertising you get paid nothing. If in fact you do get paid then hooray for you. But blogging, aside from Perez Hilton and the other big time bloggers (you know who you are) is for me a slacker job or a medium and pastime for lonely people to connect. Unless you’re in bloody Siberia or in a Gulag prison, try stepping outside your comfort zone and turn off the laptop or pc, you just might find some real live people to talk to instead of typing away in cyber space.

It's the dreaded "get a life" card! Oh noez! It's the standard comeback eight-year olds use when they're on the losing side of an argument on the net.

No, not everyone who blogs is "lonely". No, not everyone who blogs and gets paid for it is a "slacker". As a "journalist", a little more discretion when it comes to research would be very helpful, because you pretty much just called thousands of bloggers "lonely slackers".

You are in no position to give unsolicited advice to bloggers about stepping out of their comfort zones. By sheer dint of their anonymity (the very anonymity you blast them for), you can't judge who they are. For all you know, they could be very happy people who just decide to cut loose whenever they're in their own little nook online. How many bloggers are married? You'd be surprised how few of the bloggers out there actually fit the "geek" stereotype.

On the flipside blogging can be a good source of information and a great way to exchange ideas. This I strongly encourage whether it is about politics, fashion, food or whatever topic you may choose. Friendly and healthy discussions are always great.

But that doesn't negate calling bloggers "lonely slackers"! If I were to translate what you said, it's "you may all be lazy and lonely people, but you're *smart* lazy and lonely people." Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but you won't win any fans when you talk like that. This "flipside" business is just a way of softening the blow of your insults, ala Kris Aquino's "in fairness" schtick.

Blogging has its good and bad side. It's inevitable, but nothing about what you said applies exclusively to bloggers. Online forums achieve the same thing, as do focus group discussions. Furthermore, you aren't saying anything right now that encourages "friendly and healthy discussions," in case you haven't noticed.

The difference between a journalist and a blogger is that journalists have to adhere to certain guidelines that govern the freedom of speech. And whatever a journalist chooses to write about—be it popular or unpopular—we do not hide behind an anonymous name and are resigned to the fact that we have to take as much as we dish out. However, I simply detest people who place vicious comments and slanderous statements in blogs yet sign their messages as ‘anonymous.’ If you have something to say, don’t hide behind a false name. It’s just plain cowardice of you to do so. I have more of a deep sense of respect for those—however unpopular or vicious their statements are—who post their views with their real names and make no bones about it. At least they stand for something; I would rather take it from them than the cowards that hide behind false names.

So, from one person who doesn't hide behind a screen name to another, Ms. Fernandez: with all due respect, screw you.

Not hiding behind a pseudonym does not excuse you for making irresponsible comments.

Not hiding behind a pseudonym does not excuse you for behaving like a petulant child who wants to get back at the other kids for leaving her out of the swings.

Perhaps it is the Filipino culture to foster backstabbing because they never mean what they say face to face. Just how many times have you dealt with co-workers who will smile in your face when you ask them to perform a task or engage in just plain conversation, when in fact they are quite uncomfortable with the situation and are forced to do what they absolutely detest with a smiling face. I guess it’s the kind of culture brought about by 300 years of Spanish colonization. To one particular blogger of Spanish descent but with an Indio face, don’t act like a peninsulares and quote Spanish words from the generation of your abuelita... jeez and they call me elitist. The Spanish rule is over, get over yourself and your EspaƱol relatives who used to have power... but I digress (oops, my bad...) Let’s move forward.

Ummm... huh? Backstabbing is not endemic to Filipinos alone. It happens everywhere. It's got little to do with backstabbing, even. Chances are, these are people you would never meet anyways, and it's not like they'd be falling at your feet and praising you for your brilliant writing if they met you in real life.

It’s just like all this hullabaloo about ousting GMA. You deposed ERAP in Edsa Dos. Now you’re unhappy with his replacement. Make up your minds. (For the record I’m not pro anybody I’m pro whatever lesser evil is out there). You can’t overthrow one president then decide you made a mistake with your second choice. I’s not like buying a green Hermes bag and suddenly deciding, oops I should have gotten the black one instead. Unfortunately that’s the kind of nation we have become, a bunch of wishy-washy whiners who whine about everything under the sun and found the blog sphere to be the new medium for whining. Yes we do what we have to do as a nation to get things done and stop corruption and evil (I’m all for that) but we never seem to be happy with what we have, hence the complaining and whining. It just never stops.

You started with blogging, and then went on a tirade against the wishy-washiness of Filipinos. I really don't understand what you're trying to achieve: pissing bloggers off, or pissing Filipinos off. Well, if it gets you attention, I guess it works for you, then.

Maybe if the country were in better shape, there'd be much less to complain about. In an ideal world, we have no room for activists, but we are not living in an ideal world at all. People will complain if there's something wrong, and there's a world of wrong in our country right now. Are you telling everyone to just be quiet sheep and let everything slide? It's easy to say when you're living a life of privilege, of course. But if you were a middle-class worker whose taxes keep getting higher while your bosses keep getting richer, don't you think you'd have valid grievances?

It's easy to rail against people who complain because you personally don't feel the effects of everything that's wrong. Try being in their shoes sometime soon. Maybe you'll know how it feels, and you'd have more worthwhile things to complain about than how OFW's smell like.

I suppose I started some kind of trend by eliciting nasty comments and reactions via blog because of my indiscretion. But it seems to be a comfortable medium for people to vent their anger on just about everything they disagree with. I have been called an irresponsible journalist so what does that make you? It is easy to hide under the guise of anonymity you can say just about anything you want because you have no repercussions to deal with. It’s easy to hide behind a false moniker isn’t it?

Don't flatter yourself. It's not a trend, it's the way things are. If you say something irresponsible, you will get called out for it. No matter how disagreeable some of the more vicious comments leveled at you may have been, the least you could've done is learn from them and know better than to make blanket statements en masse.

Clearly, you don't let things like propriety get in the way of your arguments.

Just a thought to ponder on... Maybe I should start an anonymous blog and really let go... but then again I don’t want to be responsible for World War Three and I would sleep much better being brutally honest in your face than hide behind an anonymous name. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I started a blog just to shake things up and got a ton of money in advertising? If I do decide to do that I thank you all in advance for inspiring me… I’m always a glass half full kinda girl anyway...

Again, don't flatter yourself. We've had your kind on our blogs in the past. Some of us still do.

They're called trolls.

And if anyone ever deserved to be told to "get a life", it'd be those types.

Congratulations, Ms. Ferndandez. You have successfully identified yourself as a troll. Here, have your prize.


Anonymous said...

Know what would be a good prize for Ms. Fernandez?


Anonymous said...

Cool! I like your levelheaded commentary on everything Malu wrote. Kind of tempts me to do the same thing, and I would've done so if Malu is indeed someone worth my brain cells.

Anonymous said...

I guess she's so ignorant and limited in her knowledge on blogging. She needs to go out more and meet more bloggers for her to generalize statements.

I loved your civilized response.

Anonymous said...

I hope Malu Fernandez gets to read this post. Very well written!

She calls what we do a slacker job. Doesn't she know we also earn from our blogs?? hehe.

Yep, I think that's her problem. She's generalizing. And she's bitter. And she doesn't know what she's talking about.

I'm also not anonymous!

Kel Fabie said...

@Ade: I wouldn't wish *that* on my worst enemy. Delightfully cruel, but it doesn't achieve the ideal. The ideal is Malu apologizes not because she's terrified that bloggers would lynch her, but because she realizes she's wrong, and she judged us all too hastily.

@Nightdreamer: I'm bored to tears here at work after finishing deliberations. I honestly had nothing better to do to pass my hour.

@Noemi: I'm more surprised she's still writing for the Standard. Didn't she say she resigned already?

@Joni: Ms. Fernandez doesn't let silly things like "facts" get in the way of her thought process.

Anonymous said...

@marcelle: Wait, wait, you're surprised that Manila Standard hasn't fired Malu? Well, you should take a look at how it advertises itself, based on the "About Us" of its website:

Who reads Manila Standard Today?
A July 2005 survey of subscribers shows our typical reader:
• Is a college graduate
• Is 45 years or older (25-44 is second largest group)
• Is a corporate officer, professional or employee
• Owns his or her house
• Travels by air once or twice a year
• Dines out five times a month
• Owns one or two cars
• Has one or two memberships in exclusive clubs

So they're clearly aiming for the "elite" demographic. It’s like Malu Fernandez compiled that survey, and thought that was worth frontin’. I’ll be very sad if I learn that rich people are the dumb demographic that appreciate Manila Standard’s articles. Surely rich people should be smarter, noh? hehehe

And in all honesty, I've read Manila Standard and thought it was the most unremarkable non-tabloid (O RLY LOL!) journal, next to Manila Bulletin.

Kel Fabie said...

I'm not surprised that she didn't get fired. It's more like I'm surprised she's *still* with the company, because in her "apology", she stated that she already sent resignation letters to the Standard and the other thing she used to write for.

Apparently, like a certain senator I know, it was an "I lied! Hahahahaa!!!" moment...

Unknown said...

I'm both a journalist and a blogger. Needless to say I'm personally offended by all this. She may have noticed that her OFW fiasco got her the audience, earning her hits across the Web, so she's back and now it seems she's just after the attention. Yes, she's deliberately riling on for the infamy, and when people toss back her shit, she's gonna end up with a "notoriously-brandishing-the-truth" kind of misrepresentation. That's not journalism. And Perez Hilton???

I'd have to say that she's the bane to Manila Standard's credibility. Journ ethics be damned indeed!

And I think I may have said this before in a blogpost somewhere, but I think she's a writer hooked on pretense (and I cringe at the idea of calling her a "writer" as it's a disservice to actual responsible journalists) who condescendingly speaks about everything and everyone outside her egocentric bubble. And now, she proven that it's true.

Oh nice, stomp and spit on the bloggers with a blog-like writeup. So yeah, screw her. I'm offended by all these.
*insert appropriate invective here*

So thanks for the intelligent and level-headed commentary Marcelle.

Anonymous said...

sir, haha. :) if you thought she was bad check THIS one out.

It's hilarious and very VERY mean at the same time.

Anonymous said...

follow up: you should especially check this one out. :))

Kel Fabie said...

@greyweed: Thanks! I appreciate the kind words. I'm glad to see Ms. Fernandez is the exception, not the rule.

@gaita: Be that as it may, the link you gave me is the link of a blog, and a self-conscious tongue-in-cheek blog at that.

Malu Fernandez, in contrast, is a writer for a newspaper. She's supposed to be a "journalist", and "journalists" supposedly have this thing called "journalistic ethics", that should mean they are very much accountable for the things that they put out there.

If I've taught you guys one thing through your interviews, it's that you can't get away with drivel like that in journalism. That's why your oral interview was graded differently from your written interview. ;)

Anonymous said...

This is certainly one of the best reaction to Malu's latest foray into attention whore-dom. You can clearly see the difference between her juvenile writing and your mature response.

Isn't it just so ironic that the paper she writes for is called the Manila Standard? I don't read their paper, but if Malu is an example of their standard...

Kel Fabie said...

It's an incomplete title, you see.

It's the Manila Standard (for Tactlessness).