BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - January 9, 2021 - 12:00am

Proverbs chapter one verses 8-19 teaches us that all actions bear consequences. The consequence may come one way or another but it will come. Newton’s Third Law of Motion also bears a more or less similar message. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Even hidden indiscretions bear consequences. “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead,” says Proverbs 9:17-18.

To some of the rioters who stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, the consequences came in right after the incident. Sixty eight persons were arrested. Four persons lost their lives as a result of this deplorable act of defiling the symbol of US democracy.

To several other rioters, the consequences came a day after. One of them, an employee of a marketing firm, was promptly fired from his job after D.C. police photos posted in the internet showed him still wearing his work ID during the riot.

A real estate agent was also fired from her job and her profile removed from the company website, although she claimed that while she was in the rally, she did not enter the Capitol. How was her participation in the riot found out by her employer? She posted photos of the scene on Instagram while climbing the steps of the Capitol.

Reuters reported that an adjunct professor at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania was forced to resign after a video from the scene he posted on social media prompted an investigation by his college. He has since deleted the video.

A lawyer of an insurance firm based in Westlake, Texas, also got the pink slip from his employer after he broadcast on social media his participation in the Capitol riot, complaining that he had been teargassed.

How about the instigator-in-chief US President Donald Trump himself? He has been hammering lies and conspiracy theories about election fraud both in mainstream and social media. Those who follow Parler, an American microblogging and social networking site which is a favorite platform of right-wing Trump supporters, know that the riot at the Capitol had been planned and discussed in that site days prior to the incident. What consequences are there for Trump after that sordid episode that he caused?

Loose in his words since time immemorial, Trump is finally exposed to the harsh reality of his own narcissistic folly. He faces ignominy within his own political base as allies abandon him, and possibly a life behind bars after he leaves office. “Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.”

Trump is now trying to control the damage that he wrought on American institutions, but his efforts are too late. His concession speech yesterday came amid a real possibility of being ousted in office by the vice president and majority of the Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution.

In the era of “antisocial” social media, many people forget that there are consequences to the kind of conversations we put out there. There are, for example, employers who scour social media posts of job candidates who show signs of self-centered behavior. I know a few employers who are also on the lookout against so-called Die-hard Duterte supporters (DDS). On the other side, perhaps there are also employers who detest self-absorbed liberals. In any case, there are consequences when a person engages in anti-social behavior on social media, like when he insults or demonizes other people.

As a society, we rely on cost and consequences as a way to control social behavior. Without certain degrees of accountability, social order won’t survive for long. While in the age of social media we tend to tolerate, or even celebrate, anti-social behavior, such tolerance or celebration will always manifest its cost and consequences sooner or later.

In the last five years, we have seen populist leaders like Trump and their die-hard supporters using the loopholes of digital culture in order to spread hate and lies. We saw the erosion of ethical restraints in a society where many are drawn under the spell of online click-baits and toxic social media engagement.

We might as well either enforce or suffer the incremental consequences now. Let’s not reach the point where, as history has taught us, the ultimate consequences are mass savagery and the collapse of a decent social order.

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