Friday, April 24, 2009

Blogger-Man, Blogger-Man. Does Whatever A Blogger Can...

.:On Power And Responsibility:.

I wanted to write another satire like this one, but I don't want my point to be lost in flaring tempers and people's inability to discern the hidden messages ever-present in satire. This might be the only time I'd even attempt to address the issue on this blog, so bear with me.

.:Spider-Man Is My Hero:.

The story of Spider-Man is probably not alien to the average person by now. Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gained the proportionate strength and agility of a spider. Initially deciding that this was his ticket to fame and fortune, he decided to ignore a thief whom he allowed to slip past him, and this led to the burglar eventually coming across and killing his uncle Ben Parker, who was the closest thing he had to a father.

It was at this point that he discovered that with great power comes great responsibility.

.:We Find Ourselves At A Prime Point...:.

About a mere two to three years ago, it was unthinkable that bloggers would find themselves newsworthy this often, but here we are now, and practically anything we bloggers get annoyed about get picked up by the local news now.

Whether it's about the cat killer, or Nasser Pangandaman, or Boyet Fajardo or Chip Tsao, bloggers have been given more and more time in mainstream media not merely as "feature stories" of old, but even as, to an extent, opinion leaders.

More than ever, people recognize the power of blogging. Corporations no longer merely shrug off abusing a blogger's rights if, for example, they stole their pictures, or if they treated bloggers unfairly at an event or the like. In our quest to have commensurate respect as human beings and as practitioners of new media, we have unfortunately picked up some of the nastier habits of the mainstream. There is no denigration intended here, because we are all in the same boat: there will always be bad eggs in any community, and blogging is no exception.

Clearly, people have been reacting adversely to this development. Some feel angered by people who exploit the system. Those on the other side of the fence feel slighted, discriminated against, or looked down upon. Some sectors from both sides demand education in lieu of criticism. Suddenly, the burden of responsibility has been placed squarely on everyone else, despite the great power bestowed upon the blogging community as a whole to reach out, to effect change, and to influence opinions.

Why are only a select few suddenly responsible, yet everyone wields the power?

At this point, we can also safely say that with great power naturally must come great responsibility

.:A Different Medium Does Not Exempt You From The General Norms Of Society!:.

Has this power bloggers have recently found gotten to our heads already? Has our concept of right and wrong suddenly become completely shot that we now find it excusable to act reprehensibly online or even offline, all under the guise of "blogger power"?

You don't need to be an ethicist to know that with great power comes great responsibility. As bloggers progressively become more and more influential in the general public, more eyes will be looking at how we conduct ourselves. Yes, we must admit that, given the nature of the internet, we cannot expect to enforce any ethical standards upon the blogosphere, and it’s fairly understandable that this concession needs to be made.

However, this does not absolve people who abuse their privileges as bloggers. There is no “blogger police” that is being established to safeguard the reputations of bloggers. All that exists is a simple check and balance: if you step out of line, people will notice. It doesn’t matter if you’re an old blogger or a new blogger. It doesn’t matter if you’re a paid blogger or a “blogging for fun” blogger. No matter how esteemed you are in the blogging world, nobody should be beyond following the basic tenets of decency and respectable behaviour. To say that no standard exists or cannot be set is absurd, because in the offline world, we know when someone is stepping out of line, and we are quick to castigate them. As people who value the freedom of the internet, bloggers in general would rather live and let live, until how other people live their lives directly affects them..

That is why people have spoken up against bloggers who have abused the newfound power of the online community. That is why calls for temperance and moderation in bringing out the pitchforks against the smallest gripe, whining against any minor inconvenience in hopes of fomenting a virtual lynch mob have been made. There is no desire to police or monitor anyone simply because people would infinitely prefer that bloggers are aware of lines that shouldn’t be crossed, but some are unbelievably oblivious to these lines.

There is no need for a blogger police that would impose standards and values on the Philippine blogosphere. The current checks and balances in place should be sufficient if enough opportunities for dialogue and better understanding are taken. If anyone wishes to complain against other people voicing out their opinions while at the same time exercising theirs, then they are clearly being hypocrites.

Most bloggers should be old enough to know the basics of what is right or wrong. If there is a clamor for “education” in lieu of criticism, then perhaps there should also be a willingness to learn, to stow away the onion-skinnedness (If I may coin such a word.) and listen to what is being said in the criticisms. It’s easy to get butthurt about being called out for ill behaviour, but hey, maybe if one didn’t behave in a reprehensible manner, then perhaps they would never have needed to be called out for it, right? Weren’t the lessons on good manners and right conduct enough? Is the concept of “delicadeza” lost upon us now? How many of us got spanked or scolded by our parents for stepping out of line? Do we throw away our regard for propriety and proper decorum just because we’re not in school or at work? What does that make us, then? Savages by default, who merely pretend to be decent human beings when the need arises? Sana naman, hindi.

Bloggers are more powerful than they were a mere three years ago. Perhaps that is why some people have gotten smug about their ability to criticize anyone they see fit. But then, if there’s one thing I learned from the Dela Paz/Pangandaman hoopla, it’s that people who denigrate other people even via their blogs are perfectly fair game for libel lawsuits. This is not “just” a blog. This is a blog. And just like any other mode of printed expression, be it a magazine, a newspaper, or a website, the writer of a blog is deemed responsible for whatever they have written. How many of us have been abusing the written word over the slightest issue lately? I mean, hey, I don’t like what the cat killer kid did either, but do we have to say that driving him to suicide would be a good course of action? Do we have to call for people to kill him, too? Since when did two wrongs make a right?

If you don’t wish basic standards of decency and propriety to be expected from you, please find a community that has no regard for basic standards of decency and propriety. It’s awkward to not want to impose standards yet have other’s standards inadvertently imposed upon you because the way bloggers behave reflect upon the community as a whole. Thus, if one were to act in an ill-advised manner, it is a poor reflection upon the community.

It’s not like the world expects saints and perfect human beings, anyways. I think it’s just fair that the world expects people who wish to act in a certain way to take responsibility for the way they act. It’s time to stop blaming others for how we behave, and it’s time we learned that with great power comes great responsibility. What we write, what we do in functions for bloggers, and how we conduct ourselves both online and offline while we wave around the label of “blogger” as some sort of badge will inevitably affect how the general public perceives the Philippine blogosphere.

If I have offended anyone by what I write today, then I humbly accept responsibility for it. However, if one took offense to these words, perhaps one should also be responsible enough to understand that this is a subconscious acceptance that these words apply to them? Perhaps these words, as harsh or denigrating as they may come off, should be a call to action to raise one’s self to not even a higher standard, but merely a basic standard?

Before you bring out the pitchforks, please. Think about it. Your freedom to act any way you wish ends when your responsibility to the sensibilities of other people in your community, as well as to the well-being of the community you claim affiliation with, begins.

.:Take It From Spider-Man...:.

While Spider-Man’s motivation was the death of a parent figure, Uncle Ben, his motivation is not the same as Batman’s. When Batman was born upon the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, it was an oath of vengeance against criminals. An oath to not allow what happened to him to happen to anyone else under his watch.

Spider-Man was different. It wasn’t a desire to police other people the way some interpretations of Batman’s quest for justice and vengeance have been. It was a desire to take the power he had and use it responsibly. With the kind of power Spider-Man had, using it merely to achieve fame and fortune became unthinkable to him. There’s nothing wrong with fame and fortune. But if it gets in the way of using his power responsibly, then it had to take a backseat.

We all have the proportional strength and agility of a blogger. This is great power in our hands, and it doesn’t take a genius or an irradiated spider for us to understand how to, or at least that we ought to, use this power responsibly.

And that, my friends, is true.

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