I was listening to a podcast that I usually enjoy, and I was intrigued when the host told listeners to bully people who support the current regime or those who subscribe to fake news. They justified this as means of teaching people facts or persuading them to join their side—like some sort of wake-up call.
As much as I loved that podcast, I questioned whether what the host advised was right or not.
Nowadays, with the presence of social media, the youth are encouraged to be “woke”, and that we should be proactive in sharing with people the facts and crucial information that would counter the spread of fake news. This way, as we’re taught, we would save victims of misinformation and disinformation.
We’re told to be more critical of things we hear and read and to be more vocal about current issues and events. We’re encouraged to “educate” our peers and people beyond our circles. However, as this practice became ingrained in our habits, the act of “educating” became more hostile and more dismissive.
Events leading up to the National and Local Elections provide good examples. With supporters campaigning for their respective candidates, some have sparked a lot of altercations online, with each side trying to “educate” the other on facts, beliefs, values, and even “truth”. As either side pushes that what they know is what’s more credible, right, or absolute, these interactions sometimes end up with mudslinging.
For those who know more or have better resources that have helped them to mold their opinion and understanding of things, “educating” may seem like a responsibility. But the kind of “educating” people are doing only has them end up being condescending. They are not helping the cause but are rather only adding fuel to the fire.
These are especially common among supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo and Bongbong Marcos, with both gunning for the presidency. As sides clash, conversations no longer serve the purpose of “educating” but they become mediums of spreading hatred.
In addition, many methods of “educating”, for some reason, involve an exchange of vulgar words, especially when the views are opposing. Some would go as far as calling the other person an idiot or any other degrading remark. There are also instances where people would retweet posts just to ridicule other people’s beliefs or be as petty as mocking the person’s grammar and sentence structure.
But these acts are nothing but unnecessarily nitpicky and counterproductive. Instead of reaching out to people and engaging in amicable conversations and hopefully converting them into people who will join our cause, some of us resort to bullying, harassment, or even verbal abuse in hopes of “educating”.
Despite people having different beliefs and values, we should never be disrespectful when engaging in discourses where we’d rather have more allies than enemies. What we aim for is to help by showing our peers and other people the truth. We should not lose sight of this.
I believe that educating others is indeed everyone’s responsibility. But if doing so is made as an excuse to undermine other political views and to mum others, then it would be better for one to relearn how to communicate these things before joining the conversations. It is still better to approach people with an open mind and offer a listening ear to them. We would not be able to know where to start doing the work of enlightening the misguided if we do not listen to where they are coming from.
Empathy is also key. If we were to reach and touch the minds of people who have opposing beliefs, we should be patient when engaging in discourses, no matter how infuriating the other side can be.
At the end of the day, respect should and does matter. Our endeavors right now should not give one license to bully, no matter the circumstance. Bullying will only give way to an endless cycle—let us be the first to stop it.