Editorial: Let’s not pass distorted messages-A A +A
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
AS KIDS, we were made to play the game, Message Relay, most during scouting. The game, as many know and just as many may not know, made us all line up by teams, the first member facing front, the rest facing the back. The first person on the line is made to read a message silently by the scout leader. He then taps the person next in line to whisper the message. The next in line does the same until the end of the line. The last one runs to where the scout leader is to state out the message.
The objective of the game is the speed of relaying the message and accuracy. In those childhood memories, we know, very few got the message right as the message gets mangled down the line.
That is what happened on Wednesday.
An abandoned car outside the mall raises the suspicion of security-conscious authorities. From there, the rumors spread. The vehicle outside became a bomb inside the mall. The bomb inside the mall becomes a bomb inside the cinema of the mall. The worst version of the story we got was that the bomb exploded and killed many people.
The place differed, depending on who’s sending the message. The mall becomes a school, the school becomes a bank. Name it, text messages and Facebook status updates are very busy churning out the rumors.
These are uncertain times. We know many of us do not really believe all the news that we are getting, especially on who is behind all these. We cannot blame people if they have become very cynical and wary of all those in authority. After all, we are now being told, daily, that corruption in the higher echelons of government is in amounts we cannot even call kickbacks.
We know there is a lot of confusion as to whether the government can really handle all these crises facing it. Let us not add to the confusion. Information not verified should not be passed on to friends as facts. Information not verified should not be written as status messages.
There is so much to worry about. We know the conflict in Zamboanga can spill over. But let us not victimize ourselves unnecessarily and instead reserve our fears and strength for the real challenges in life.
Hide when needed, flee when told. But don’t waste your time screaming for no other reason than to scream and panic over things that are nothing but pranks and rumors. To those who love forwarding alleged reliable reports from unreliable sources, stop. We do not need more uncertainties to the uncertainties we already face.
We can’t even say go call our Central 911 to get the real story, because all of you might just be clogging up the emergency lines of this very important facility for our people. Let’s just say, that in times of crisis like what we are going through, leave the information dissemination to the professionals because we all cannot be journalists and being journalist isn’t just about passing on unverified rumors and reports taken out of context. This is the time when we should carefully choose whom to read and listen to because times like this, we need information we can act on and not panic triggers.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 19, 2013.