IT WAS a scene straight out of a dark slapstick comedy. The traffic jam at McArthur Highway in Matina right after the earthquake last Wednesday, October 16.
It gave us a good glimpse of our psyche as a people.
Just about everybody was online on their social media account. But the primary motive, it seems, is to be the first to spread thoughts. Not even verified information. There was no hesitation to post and spread unverified information. Thus, the jam.
Had there been a tsunami as everyone was insisting on, that part of the highway would have been where many perished.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center website has been my first information source whenever there is a strong quake. I access that even before checking on Phivolcs. The reason is that, the information there is actionable. The information about how strong an earthquake was is more on knowing something already in the past -- very recent, yes, but still in the past.
Tsunami information after a strong earthquake is something that people can still act upon if ever there is one or assuage fears if there is none.
In this time when information is literally on our fingertips, there is no reason not to have access to these sources. Let us practice caution on passing on unverified information. Instead, let us use our connectedness to access and share information that helps. Last Wednesday’s rumor-mongering underlined how we misuse and abuse a very powerful medium.
Here’s a special greeting to all those who chided SunStar Davao for sharing the assurance that there is no tsunami threat generated by Wednesday’s earthquake by posting the PTWC advisory. There wasn’t, was there?
But no, many chose what has become more pronounced now than ever -- persecute first, think later.
Here’s a reminder to all: Let us temper our ability to create a lynch mob. That will never be something to be proud about. One name pops up in my head about the gravity of misused and abused power, the name of a young, very intelligent, and altruistic person who was persecuted through social media and has thus taken his life. His name was Nacho. But before him, several others were already pushed to suicide by a bullying online mob. Let us stop this abuse, right now.