I have recently had a re-run of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s book, Stupid is Forever. This literary is basically not a book review. I just thought (since it is timely) of sharing with you, my few loyal readers, an excerpt from the speech, which she delivered at the UP Diliman on 02 February 2013, at the symposium sponsored by the University Student Council entitled, Weaponizing Social Media for the Ongoing Political Campaign.
I have personally highlighted some words as well as some of the one liners from her speech, which captured my attention, and motivated me to share her message with you, with the the hopes that my small act will enlighten your thoughts and make you determine yours.
PREMATURE CAMPAIGNING OF THE POLITICIANS
Indeed, the campaign period has “unofficially” began from Mar Roxas’ mom campaigning for her son, (Source) to Martin Romualdez penetrating Cebu City laboring votes for the 2016 Election. (Source) You can watch their Political Ads on TV and hear them over the radio. With an allotted three-month campaign period, a true leader will follow rules and live by example. It’s only August 2015 for crying out loud, and I bet that you know exactly what I am trying to imply.
As Sen. Santiago said, certainly, the Filipino voters are bored of their antics, and aghast at their resumes. The question is, as a citizen of the Philippines, what inch will you do to realize the fore-bearing change that our great ancestors aspired for many, many years? Or are we still going to see Juan dela Cruz singing, The Impossible Dream after declaring the new president this 2016?
You are a Filipino. Do not sell your vote. It is your gateway to prosperity and true freedom, not only for yourself, but for your great, great grandchildren.
Your right to choose is something that the rich and powerful cannot take away from you if you secure it with dignity, hope and pride.
Your right to choose is something that is priceless, it is something that makes you more powerful than the rich, and make them bend on their knees because the rich is outnumbered by the poor.
Remember and keep in mind the P10 billion pork barrel scandal. Therefore we should not reelect any senators or congressmen running in 2016 whom the Ombudsman charged for plunder or Malversation at the Sandigangbayan.
Let’s keep in mind, digital friends are people usually you haven’t met in real life, you are trusting through a screen. It’s all up to you to trust their advice, their promised support and their promised friendship.
Here’s with the hope that you will throw the same amount of effort the same way you post in Social Media every time you have a new hair-do, new pair of shoes, new gadget, food porn, or have recently checked in to some place for the world to know, over-sharing every detail about your daily activities, using Twitter to disparage someone, posting an unflattering photo of a person as a joke (which isn’t funny) on Instagram, using forums as venting machines that get out of control with vile language and cyber-bullets that harms others, revenge porn, online shaming and more – but instead use Social Media to demote the traditional form of Political Campaigning through radio and television, and elevating them as Political Campaign Weapons through Tablets and Smart Phones.
Let this era of the Digital Revolution, be a reminder that the netizens of the cyberspace is truly free and cannot be bribed.
You have the power to create change, and it is on the tip of your fingers to make it happen, and it’s up to you on how you will use that power vested upon you through the Social Media.
As Sen. Santiago said, “Let us use social media during the three-month campaign period to ensure that our people shall be led to choose deserving national leaders.”
Weaponize social media during the campaign period by providing content that not only informs, but also entertains and motivates.
Let not this be a challenge only to the UP graduates, but to the entire nation that includes YOU and ME.
Question is, how will we use that power?
The campaign period has begun. All kinds of characters want to run for public office. We, the 52 million Filipino voters are bored with their antics. We are aghast at their resumes. Some of them are not even high school graduates. They resort to all kinds of cheap gimmickry, hoping to provide entertainment for free. They should not be called candidates: they should be called clowns.
In the Philippines, politics is dominated by two kinds of clowns: rich clowns; and poor clowns hoping to become rich. Fortunately, we are at the cusp of a new ominous wave of change in the political beach. This wave is called social media. In the Philippines, nobody knows how to control or manage social media. Rich clowns used to bribe press and broadcast journalists so that they could gain added illegal advantage over their competitors. But now, the rich clowns are beginning to discover that it is not possible to bribe the leaders, much less, all the netizens in cyberspace.
If the first Edsa revolution was a “Xerox revolution”, and if Edsa 3 was a “text revolution” , then the next revolution against political corruption should be “net revolution”.
The ideal University of the Philippines (UP) student always gives the world a shock. I ask each one of you to give the mindless political candidates a shock by demoting TV, which used to be the king of political advertising, and instead elevating as political campaign weapons that tablet and smart phone.
In terms of social network use, the Philippines is ranked among the top countries. This could be the precursor of the participatory democracy of the future. Facebook is the premier social media service in the world. Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service. YouTube provides a forum for the distribution of video content, particularly eyewitness features of political protests. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the so-called big three social media services. These services enable large numbers of people to be easily and inexpensively contacted via variety of services.
Social media lowers traditional socio-economic barriers to commanding the spotlight. The power of the rich politicians becomes more porous and the political warlords have less control. It has been said that text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Internet have given rise to reservoir of political energy. Digital technologies enforce the formation and activities of civil society groups: mobs, movements, and civil society organizations.
CHALLENGE TO UP STUDENTS
The ideal UP student is not interesting per se. What is interesting is what the ideal student does with his life after graduation from UP. As a rule, and UP graduate will always be characterized by academic excellence and by the courage to take social justice to the next level. If you are to serve your nation, I am here to testify that it will be a rough, contentious and spirit crushing journey.
But as a true UP graduate, I insist that I have a role to perform. This role is to stand as one of gazillion bricks in the cathedral of governance. No one will remember me if I suddenly drop dead tomorrow. But generations after you and me, would be able to put behind them the culture of corruption, and build a new shining nation with leaders who are neither dazzled by the material world, nor confused about their purpose in life.
Hence I have risen from my sickbed to issue you this challenge: For God’s sake, save this country. Use social media during this three-month campaign period to ensure that our people shall be led to choose deserving national leaders. Allow me to make some recommendations on how to weaponize social media against corrupt, the clueless, and the clowns. I am paraphrasing from an article in the Net issued by Craft Media Digital and written by Brian Donahue.
Weaponize social media during the campaign by providing content that not only informs, but also entertains and motivates. You need to develop skills in creative design, emotionally riveting visuals, and content that inspires action. We cannot weaponize by simply issuing a statement, a newsletter or a Facebook post. We need to enlist the work of more graphic designers, creative writers, videographers, and musicians.
Weaponize social media during the campaign by embracing targeted messaging strategies. You cannot rely on single-issue national messaging. You have to send custom messages to specific audiences online. It is said that today’s digital age, data is the most precious commodity. Hook up with math students in the Diliman campus. Ask your math scholars to build algorithms for matching data. This will develop demographic models that will help you to identify valuable voter behavior. For example, refer to Facebook OpenGraph.
Weaponize social media during the political campaign by delivering content so engaging that individual netizens will be motivated to share it. I see in the current campaign that the most egregious error of the candidates is that they treat social media as if it were TV or radio, where they simply transfer information to masses. The strength of the web is information sharing among social netizens.
Weaponizing social media in the political campaign by accepting that the future of political warfare will take place online. For example, a comparative database that provides information on each candidate’s age, residence, highest academic degree, and highest professional achievement, would be a sufficient counterbalance to the tendency of the low middle-class voter to sell his vote or to vote for the cute personality.
Social media should be used as a showcase for intangible movement of energy, and a medium of information to motivate people to vote against a particular candidate.
I share one unbreakable linkage with you. At one time I was your age like all UP students. I wanted to change the world. Maybe I have. But the world also changed me. Now I am old enough to have seen the world and have all my illusions shattered. Am I disillusioned? No, because as the poet said:
Though much is taken, much abides: and though
We are not that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and to yield.
– Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago