Sunday, May 16, 2010

Political fandom in the time of Twitter

My story was published in the paper yesterday; contains bits from my previous blog entries.

Political fandom in the time of Twitter

 
. . . Or why I chose Noynoy
THE CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT deeply mattered to me. I was duped once, in 2004, when I voted for Gloria Arroyo. She was good on paper and had a respectable legislative and government record. However, in a couple of years, she turned into a monstrous zit on the face of this country. It felt good to see her on TV on Election Day, dressed in turquoise, in shimmering polyester, with a giant ribbon on her breast. “Yes,” I thought. “She’s dressed like a going-away present.”

After months of research and deliberation with close friends, I chose Noynoy. I decided not to openly endorse a candidate by having posters outside my apartment, or wearing baller IDs on my daily commute to work. I didn’t want to be judged without having the opportunity to explain my vote. Instead, I decided to go all out online.

In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, showing your support for a political candidate involves the following: changing your avatar or profile picture to that of your candidate or his chosen icon; adding a Twibbon, or an icon in the color associated with your candidate, on your Twitter photo; and including a flash-based banner advertisement or logo on your website. Of course, you can also post as many status updates, Tweets and blog entries in favor of your candidate as you want. What we probably didn’t get to prepare for was the amount of online hatred we were bound to get from supporters of our candidate’s rivals.

In real life, it probably wasn’t bad. You see someone wearing a baller ID in support of Erap, and you keep the disgust to yourself. The anonymity or lack of physical contact online, however, has given people the license to be as horrible and ugly as they can be.

Noynoy supporters, including myself, have gotten used to the vitriol thrown our way. The most common accusation directed at us was that we were voting for a stupid president; ergo, we were not thinking. A stupid president? Uh, Noynoy was not the one who chose a former game show host as his vice president. We were not thinking? Our choice never worked for Estelito Mendoza; defended Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan in courts; impeached former Chief Justice Hilario Davide; and worked for Gloria Arroyo despite the Hello Garci, ZTE and Fertilizer Scam scandals. So please, don’t tell us yours were the smart vote. In any case, I felt that the hatred and anger is misplaced. You’re angry that we want an incorruptible president? The chance for an honest government?

At one point, the vitriol had gotten to me real badly that I decided to dish one back. When it was clear that Noynoy had won, this girl on Twitter said, “People who voted for Noynoy only shows how many people are stupid and choose popularity over credibility. Pathetic.” I checked her profile and it read: “I’m exercising men, cigarettes and carbohydrates out of my life.” So I sent her an eloquent reply: “Bobita.” She responded by saying it was a quote from the movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary. I figured it was clearly not a typographical error, hence she was in fact, an idiot. She then tweeted: “Moving on from the very violent followers of the residing hairline presidentiable...” I wanted to correct her again and say that Noynoy’s problem was exactly that his hair has decided to seek residence elsewhere but she has since apologized to me and explained, “It was an opinion, not racism against Noy voters!” I agree, racism is bad!

Aside from deflecting the haters, the Internet did serve as a tool to elevate the debate and discussion beyond name-calling and the pointing out of physical flaws. On my blog, I wrote “A Case for Noynoy,” wherein I answered point-by-point the black propaganda thrown at him, and wrote about his strong points. This focus on the positive, a huge change from the online mudslinging, perhaps struck a chord among Noynoy supporters: it went around social networking sites and somehow reached Inquirer columnist Manolo Quezon. Two days before the election, he included my entry among a list of writers, bloggers and political commentators who have expressed their votes of confidence for Noynoy on his Tumblr account. I took a screenshot and would probably frame it: It is not everyday that I get to be on the same list as Jessica Zafra and Randy David.

Now that a landslide victory in favor of Noynoy is imminent, and after the gracious concessions of Manny Villar, Gibo Teodoro and Richard Gordon, the number of haters has significantly declined. Supporters from all colors say they will support the incoming administration, although they will hold Noynoy accountable for his promises of eliminating corruption and closure from the many issues that hounded the Arroyo administration. So would I. As a person who waged war in his honor, I will judge him from an even higher standard-I refuse to be duped twice.

The hatred has somehow moved away from Noynoy and is now being directed toward his youngest sister, Kris. There is now a movement in Facebook, asking her to keep a promise she reportedly made during the campaign season: that she’d leave the country so as not to cause her brother controversy.

I like Kris. I wonder if she has a Twibbon or a picture logo for my website.


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