Far more vital

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago - Visaya - The Freeman

Christmas is a time for gatherings of family and friends, particularly those who have been apart for a long period. When thinking of the holiday season, two things spring to mind; giving and forgiveness. And, after a Christmas in the midst of the pandemic, we may be in for a surprise this year. What's more, why is this the case?

This year's Christmas will be marked by a cold war between friends, relatives, and family members over differing viewpoints and positions on political topics, with a focus on which political figures to support. And in the weeks leading up to the election, we witnessed a slew of strained, shattered relationships that would take months, if not years, to mend.

In the realm of politics, we Filipinos are quite enthusiastic about what we believe in. Even for individuals who had little or no interest in political problems from the beginning, old concerns have resurfaced as a result of the season, much like old wounds that have healed but need to be treated.

We've discovered that expressing political opinions on social media is a popular pastime that might have unintended social implications. A friend, for example, unfriended his aunt on Facebook because he was irritated by her posts and comments criticizing his political beliefs. Their friendship, which was once warm and intimate, turned awkward online.

In our daily lives, social media has brought about inconceivable changes. It enables us to broadcast our personal interests in all of its manifestations, including politics, to a large audience. Platforms for disseminating political viewpoints were limited to mainstream media and government propaganda prior to the introduction of the internet and the emergence of social media. But now, everybody with access to social media, from politicians to ordinary citizens, has a forum to express their opinions.

With the upcoming local and presidential elections, we may see a flurry of political discussion on social media. We must devise measures to ensure that our use of social media does not compromise our existing relationships. Although I recognize that eliminating all access to new media is practically difficult, I believe there are ways to make what we see on Facebook less unpleasant or annoying. 

Debates in Facebook comments can quickly devolve into feuds that sever social links. The strongest political viewpoint, according to social psychologists, is the most resistant to persuasion. This means that the more we argue with our unpleasant Facebook pals, the more they become impervious to our arguments.

We'd have a greater chance if we just ignored them. Extreme ideological/political ideas must be de-radicalized from within, not from without.

Euphemisms, falsehoods, emotionalism, and fear-mongering have all been used to persuade ordinary people to accept --or even demand-- their own servitude. Its purpose is to bring friends and family members together to rally around common values and aims. Its divisiveness, on the other hand, has resulted to the separation of a friend or family member.

The election this year should not define and separate us based on our political differences, but rather awaken our eyes and hearts to the common good. Though it is an exercise that will have an immediate influence on our lives, our relationships with our loved ones are far more vital and lasting.

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