Inanities vs inspirations

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

A highly respected columnist messaged me and commented that the article “Media Must Evolve” was deep but at the same time wondered why I chose to inspire versus the traditional role of media, which was to inform, analyze and help the people make informed decisions.

I explained that in our digital-driven world, most people think they already know what there is to know about politics, religion and sports. Others don’t care. Many believe all they need to know, they can get on the internet, from their trusted vlogger, YouTuber or social media idol.

They choose knowledge based on “Confirmation Bias” which is defined by Wikipedia as “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. People display this bias when they select information that supports their views, ignoring contrary information or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing attitudes.”

I am reminded of friends and people who have medical conditions such as diabetes and one with Parkinson’s disease. Most of them have done the research about their disease, treatment options, recommended lifestyle changes and they read and watch everything about their condition.

Ironically, inspite of all the information and know-ledge, many if not most of them won’t change their diet, they rely on medicines, don’t stick to an exercise regime, some even stop seeing their doctors. Others even push back with comic sarcasm. But when you convince them to watch a Netflix documentary about their health issue, their narrative changes.

Even after so many experts and thought leaders pointed out that COVID won’t be the last disaster and that we should prepare and protect ourselves medically, physically, financially, etc., all the good advice and strategies fell on deaf ears.

After COVID, many went on revenge spending like it was a fashion trend, others bought cars they didn’t need, while others traveled like they were chasing after bucket lists. Instead of embracing “delayed gratification” as a tool, many simply used their plastic money and were fooled into believing that a three-month deferred payment was wise.

Very few actually watch legitimate financial planning programs and mentors; if they do, they watch the funny and entertaining guys. Other people simply say they don’t make enough money to justify saving or investing. But when they hear the testimony or success story of someone, they actually reconsider their view.

As I pointed out in my last column, news is no longer useful news and has bordered on gossip, entertainment and drama. The news has focused on inanities and pointless matters such as the true identity of Mayor Alice Leal Guo. For almost two months, everybody was talking or asking about the “Denial Queen of POGO,” completely wasting their time.

The real question should be how is it possible that the entire Republic of the Philippines, the PSA, Comelec, DILG, the Bureau of Immigration and the intelligence services of the AFP and PNP can’t provide true and correct information. And because of its proven entertainment value, we now have a developing series in another town and another province all about local politics and POGO.

Clearly, people are not interested or informed enough about the possibilities or consequences of POGO hubs and islands. That’s the job of the National Government. People only want to solve the mystery of “Alice,” just like the telenovelas that dumb down Filipinos.

In addition to the tabloid-style reporting online and on free tv, we also have herds of government technocrats and self-styled experts who don’t observe the basics of public information: speak in the language your audience understands. Many “experts” in politics, international affairs, money and finance all talk like they are in the board room or trying to impress a potential employer.

Our choice, especially those in media and in leadership positions, is either to elevate the level of discussion, develop “intelligent lifeforms” as they say in Star Trek or to produce more “dumb and dumber” people by serving them distractions or confusing ideas.

We can inspire people not just by providing information and analysis because Filipinos are already suffering from “analysis paralysis” and a feeling of helplessness and zero purchasing power. They want to know where to get the money, how to get money and how to keep the money.

The curious part about Filipino culture is we love success stories, testimonies that confirm a practice or an exercise or when people point out talents, skills and abilities in us that we ourselves failed to recognize or tap into. We also love knowledge that is useful or applicable more than just information. Sometimes just feeding them the idea is enough.

During an out-of-town trip, I shared a learning about “self-limiting beliefs” such as I’m too old, I don’t have the money or I don’t have the training, etc., and how these are the first obstacles to everything we want to achieve. As simple as it was, a colleague reacted like a zombie awakening from a curse after realizing his own “self-limiting beliefs.”

Life used to be all about imported branded clothes and shoes, but young fashionistas dared and encouraged friends to produce Lokal and now most of us buy Lokal. Personally, I have modeled going to public hospitals when I’m sick, taking provincial buses, tricycles and ferry boats, using solar technology in homes and communities and sharing my faith publicly.

Tito Max Soliven used to be teased for his travelogue columns in his time, but what he was telling readers was, there’s a world of wonder out there to be discovered. He was also saying travel frees you from the limiting view of your geography and mentality.

When you model or prove an idea and people see it’s OK, they try it, because inspiration changes minds.

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E-mail: [email protected]

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