Thanks to the internet, we now live in a world where all kinds of information are easily accessible as it gets passed on every second, every minute, and every hour of the day. Now this, in itself, is not a bad thing. But as this pool of information grows, it gets tiring to take in everything—let’s face it, our brains can only handle so much. And as a result, we have subconsciously developed a habit of filtering out this information, only retaining the things that we deem are important and interesting to us as we remain indifferent to everything else.
Selective apathy, by definition, is “selectively choosing things to be apathetic towards.” It can be applied from the lightest to the heaviest, most serious of subjects. We may not be aware of it, but we practice this in our everyday lives.
We practice this as we sort through mounts and mounts of emails, texts, and private messages, making sure to skip all the “unimportant” ones. Or even as we pay no heed to those beggars we come across during our daily commute. Or as we disregard the call to take action to protect the environment. Or when we brush-off another post about a senator’s regularly spoken nonsense in the court (he’s done a lot for us in an entirely different context, though, so we’ll change the topic for now).
We have learned to turn a blind eye to all these and more, when in fact, we should be showing more concern.
I admit, I have also been caught in this practice of selective apathy. Every time I browse through my Facebook feed, I only catch a few snippets of most of the posts as I scroll down too fast. I only stop to actually read posts when they are related to my interests, which are mainly about sports, food, music, and animals.
Sometimes though, something catches my attention that I’m not particularly into because of the fact that I find it unusual, like people trying to make a bottle land upright after flipping. Perhaps this explains why so many people spend more time planning how to grab the attention of the casual internet-goer, making sure to stand out among the multitude of Facebook posts and memes for that small change of going viral.
But beyond internet jokes and cute videos, let’s move on to a more serious topic: The Philippine Drug War. You’ve probably grown sick and tired of hearing this term. But that’s exactly why I choose to use it as my example.
For months, almost a year in fact, the Filipinos, led by their president, have been participating in a war against drugs, willingly or unwillingly. And slowly but surely, we’ve gotten used to hearing news about someone being apprehended and killed on the spot for the alleged use or distribution of drugs. This has become a norm for us. We’ve learned to accept it as it is, effectively ignoring the situation as we do nothing but shake our heads and move on with our lives.
However, we can’t afford to do that anymore. This war and its methods has caused us too many grave repercussions. Our society has grown too used to the concept of killing; before, we would feel strong repulsion against the idea of taking a person’s life, but now, it’s become almost normal to us, as we grow numb even to the news reports of people dying on the streets.
It’s quite ironic, actually. A country dominated by Catholics, whose teachings give value and dignity to human life and prohibit killing, has grown apathetic to the claiming of lives of fellow human beings. Lives, which used to be considered most precious and valuable, whether they were lived honorably or not. Now, they seem like an expendable asset that can easily be thrown out once there is a suspected defect. Our impassivity towards it is leading us to a society of primitive moral standards and ethics. And, instead of doing something about it, we stay indifferent.
All things considered, let me close this piece with a quote.
“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” -Robert Maynard Hutchins