Virtual legality

COUNTER F LOW - James Deakin - The Philippine Star

Another day, another viral video. It’s like reality TV, only this time, it’s actual reality, and not a television producer’s version of it. You know the ones––like the grainy cell-phone video of the gun-toting idiot in the Montero; the Fil-Am brat in Clark that cussed out the cops for taking his license; the drunk-driving Ateneo basketball player involved in a traffic altercation claiming immunity because he was a councilor; the Ford Ranger driver that dragged a cop on his car door a week ago because he didn’t want to be questioned about an accident––basically, the kind of juicy footage that has online news aggregators salivating like politicians over pork allocations.

Sounds like The Hunger Games, but the truth is, this stuff happens everywhere. Difference is, with our penchant for drama, scandal, public ridicule and swift social media justice, it has taken this to a different level––one I believe has started to become counter-productive. You see, as much I believe in shaming these idiots, with more and more websites and Facebook pages devoting themselves to being the purveyors of grit and dispensaries of Internet scorn, we are actually doing the opposite. We’re diluting it and desensitizing the public.

Put it this way. Rarely a month goes by without another shocker. And each time, just like clockwork, angry netizens gather with their pitchforks and conduct a public digital crucifixion. You’ve heard of blood-thirsty? This is shame-thirsty, like-thirsty and share-thirsty. But in the end, they’re almost all empty calories.

Take the case of the gun-toting Montero owner. What ever happened to him? He became an Internet negastar overnight, then faded just as quickly. Can you even remember his name? The Clark Fil-Am brat? According to the cops I was with in Clark last week, nothing. And the Ateneo basketball player/councilor? You guessed it. Yellow card lang.

Why? We got distracted. Again. And again. And with an infinite supply of stupid out there, you can expect this to get exponentially worse until something more analog is done about it. Like permanent driving bans or good old-fashioned jail time.

Case in point, Bill Emerson Tan. Here’s a negastar that rocketed into Internet stardom when he pulled a gun on a taxi driver in broad daylight in the middle of the busiest road in the Philippines last year. He was sentenced to three days of cyber-shame and several thousand nasty comments on the Internet. And then, after coming to a settlement with the taxi driver, handed his license back and set loose again on our roads.

Barely 18-months later, he’s back in another starring role, this time dragging a policeman on his car door after he refusing to cooperate with the police.

In the video, which was uploaded by one Omet Ordnas last December 7 then mysteriously taken down after almost 40,000 shares, Ang can be seen refusing to cooperate with policemen after they asked him to alight from the car after being involved in an accident with a taxi, then accelerating away when the policemen tried to gain entry, dragging one for several feet before smashing into a cement barrier and then escaping.

Ordnas recounts on his post:

“Kung sinu man nakakakilala sa driver na to. Nakabangga po yan ng taxi sa the fort naghabulan sila hanggang sa naabutan sa poblacion makati ngaun humingi ng responde sa police. Tingnan nyo po sa video ang ginawa sa tao na to kinaladkad nya ung police at tumakas. Ayaw bumaba ng sasakyan. Pasikatin nyo na yan.”

Taken at face value, it seems like just another random crazed motorist in this jungle we call Metro Manila. But upon closer inspection, many noticed the similarities between the person in this latest video and the one that went viral back in July of last year, which Ang eventually admitted to after his cousin was mistakenly tagged as the culprit and became the victim of harassment and Internet Scorn.

Tan has since claimed he has settled once again with the taxi driver and police involved.

And herein lies the rub. As effective as social media has been in calling out these cysts, unless someone is there to ‘operate’ on them once they’re discovered, the cysts just grow. And grow. And you can’t expect to “like” and “share” them out of society; you need to throw the book at them. And I don’t mean Facebook, either.












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