Knowledge in 1, 2, 3…

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, June 14, 2014


CALL me archaic, but I find it very worrisome that the enumerated bits of information that is most-often shared in social networks and most-often read in the internet (check out how Buzzfeeds rules worldwide over other news and information sites) are becoming the only source of information of the young ones and less discerning majority.

I believe that like anything out there that tinkers with the mind and consciousness of the people, these types of information have to come with parental guidance.

No, let me rephrase that… Internet should always come with parental guidance because out there is a plethora of information, both good and bad, and good but need to be explained further to find the good, or bad or not inherently bad but can become evil, all you need to have is time to surf and the ability to read. The level of discernment is what is worrisome.

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It’s therefore scary that many parents think Internet is just about games and they leave their children glued to their games for hours on end. As if that is not enough, even babysitting and entertainment is left for the child to figure out by him- or herself via a tablet linked to the internet. The peace and quiet every parent longs for becomes easily derived by plopping down a tablet and keeping a child busy, for hours.

Call me archaic, but I still believe that critical thinking ergo common sense comes with addressing a whole set of information and sifting out the important, unnecessary, not worth a second, and all others and not by going to a website that enumerates to you the hundred ways to skin a cat without explaining why or making you skin one (not that I’d want you to skin one) or the ten sure ways to turn on your man, articles that send page hits and page visits of websites (equivalent to ratings on television and readership on print) zooming.

There may not be a scientific study about it, but I have this gut feel that the gullibility of a big percentage of Pinoys to take satire and fiction as fact and having difficulty in recognizing it against real news is a manifestation of the eroding ability to think through situations and information. Our love for gossip (think: the very popular chismis shows of the late 1980s and 1990s, morning, noon, nighttime, repeat) that preceded telenovelas as they are today, has just found an interactive medium: the social media.

If you are my age… that would be around the so-called middle age years (and no I never lie about mine because I know I’m gifted that way. Bwahahahaha!), I bet you’d often be caught wondering why your young workers now seem to lack some cognitive skills and yes, that common sense seem no longer common. Guess why? I’d wager a guess. It’s most likely that many of them are from a decade just before the Millennials (as against the X, Y, and generations) and have gained their consciousness when computers were already the in thing. Many of these kids were no longer allowed to explore the city they grew up in, and thus if they lived in the south, wouldn’t know what is up north and what is waiting for them eastward. There were the daily telenovelas and gaming consoles and internet to keep them busy, and so they stayed indoors. They were nurtured by Teletubbies and challenged by Lara Croft and their afternoons were spent watching showbiz chismis with their yayas. Worse, they learned to find answers to whatever question they have through the Internet, never mind if these are the right answers or borne out of ignorance like theirs.

Parents too believe children are safer indoors, what with worsening gang riots, kidnappings, and crazy drivers. Indeed, the kids are safe for the parents’ peace of mind, yes, but not for the kids’ piece of mind. Hand them a tablet and tell them about an app and they will be able to figure out how to operate both in seconds. But give them a book and they just might not figure out the value of its information without googling for its reviews or waiting for its movie adaptation, and then raving about it as one band, worldwide, when it tops the charts.

Oh, and before I forget, mind that word: worldwide.

Notice how television news rave about what’s trending worldwide, especially when it’s about their shows or their short-sighted interests, like maybe Kris’ short hair or the end of The Legal Wife. “Trending worldwide!” the fodder they are feeding us masquerading as news would say. Errrrmmmm… that just shows how spread out all over the world the Filipinos have become and how they super love social media to beam out their thoughts and activities and not because all other nationalities are interested in how Kris dons her hair or who gets Adrian in the end. Among the causes of our tendency to reach for the internet to connect is that state of being called diaspora, and that too is a major social problem that requires our concern as a people, not the ending of The Legal Wife nor whatever Kris does. But of course, being the people that we are now, Kris and Adrian are of greater concern than diaspora. I can bet just one peso and be a millionaire tomorrow for each one who without the facility of an Internet search engine can explain diaspora to me in 3, 2, 1…

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saestremera@yahoo.com

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 15, 2014.

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