Thursday, February 17, 2011

RH in social networks

SURELY, it was not by a careless twist of fate that the architect of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was voted Time’s person of the year. It was because of the tremendous revolution that this social medium has triggered especially on how people the world over interact with each other, spontaneously bringing about a democratization of information and, perhaps, power. With about 600 million users and over a billion new pieces of content posted every day, it is touted to be the third largest “country” in the planet—with the most information on its “citizens” than any country in the world.

In the Philippines alone, there are over 18 million Filipinos connecting daily on Facebook, not to mention other social networking platforms such as Twitter, Friendster, Myspace and a bevy more. In this country which is one of the global top users of social media, a greater majority of information—from news to views, from hi’s and sighs, from photos to videos—are lodged and dislodged more in these two-way social networks than in traditional one-way media such as television, radio or press.

That being the case, most of the hullabaloo about the Reproductive Health Bill are found in social networks more than—some say more than 60%—what one hears or see in traditional media. By cursory check, the latest Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines titled “Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill”, for instance, was casted by a popular Facebook account, “100% Katolikong Pinoy!”, to its nearly one hundred thousand members shortly after it was officially released on January 30. And so were other Catholic social media such as “I Oppose the RH Bill,” “Filipinos for Life,” “YouthPinoy” and a few smaller ones that cascaded the same content. Ironically, the same pastoral letter was not even read in many parishes throughout many dioceses nationwide until today according to ground info.

On the other hand, the opposite camp, those who are pushing for the immediate legislation of the RH Bill who seem very friendly to the media, are aggressively using every nook and cranny of social networks—even if, by the hasty looks of it, they do not have as much “likes” or membership. They push and shove every argument they can muster, every “Damaso” they can lash at and every language they can utter, no matter how foul or obscene. Anyway, this is how Egypt was lately done—through twitter, among others. This order of things should be very alarming to ordinary mortals who consider even using an email passé—but not to those in greater ecclesiastical circles where the digital divide is still way up in limbo.

Perhaps, it’s about time now for Church leaders to sincerely peek into what’s all these social networks are all about—and perchance understand why in the arena of public opinion, especially among the youth, a greater majority still do not understand what on RH the Church is trying to say.

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