The use & abuse of social media

Published January 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal



Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Last January 12, Taal volcano erupted.  It was a phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion, ultravulcanian eruption or steam-blast eruption.

What is a phreatic eruption?  In a news article of GMA News ( ): “According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) a phreatic eruption is a “steam-driven explosion” that happens magma heats the ground or surface water.  The intense heat can cause water to boil and flash into steam, which results in an explosion of water, steam, rock, and ash.  The water, once heated, begins to boil or can even flash straight to steam, causing an explosion,” USGS said.

The news article added: “During phreatic eruptions, however, no new magma is produced, only fragments of preexisting solid rock from the volcano. Phreatic eruptions can also often precede, accompany or follow a more traditional volcanic eruption.”

When Taal erupted, it spewed ash up to 9 miles into the air.  It caused cancellation of flights into and out of Manila that evening, and into early the following day.  People started panic buying masks all over the metro.  The provinces of Batangas and Cavite bore the brunt of the ashfall, which reached some Central Luzon provinces.  However, Phivolcs had been warning about Taal volcano since early 2019, continually issuing bulletins about the activities of the volcano.

One of the consequences of the eruption was that classes in all schools in Metro Manila were suspended on Monday and Tuesday.  But because of improving weather conditions, by late Tuesday, mayors of the cities and municipality in Metro Manila already started announcing classes would resume on Wednesday.  Many official statements were made through official Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Most LGUs have their official accounts, but there are several Metro Manila mayors who have personal accounts which people also follow for announcements.  Mayors Abby Binay of Makati City, Isko Moreno of Manila City, Toby Tiangco of Navotas City, and Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela City are some of the more active on social media. Many of them,especially on Twitter, interact with constituents.  Being online is actually a good thing.  Officials have a direct link to their constituents.

This is something that seems to be prevalent.  You see officials respond to messages and public posts of individuals asking questions ranging from resumption of classes, to disturbances in the barangay, questions about public parks, flooding, and a whole range of other issues and concerns.

However, there’s also a bad side to being so accessible with the public.  Based on news reports and on the Facebook page of Makati City Mayor Abby Binay, some of students in the guise of asking about resumption of classes sent vile, derogatory, and insulting messages.

I’ve seen this happen in the past and something that seems to be rampant.  Young kids seem to have a different persona while on-line. They’re no longer courteous, well-mannered, and respectful.  They hurl insults and use vulgar language.  In the instances it happened in the past, many just claim that their accounts were “hacked” or that it was their “friends” who posted it or wrote it, and not them.  That excuse is an alibi that been used all too often.

This is something I want to point out.  As parents we see our kids on their smartphones and tablets for hours every day. Conversing with their friends on Snapchat, Viber, FB Messenger, Twitter, and other social media platforms.  As parents, we have to ask ourselves if we really know how our children conduct themselves on social media.  Too many times have we seen posts of young children gone viral because of their disrespectful behavior (like this instance).  Many times, those involved are kids who appear to be prim and proper.  It seems they take on a different persona on-line.  Worse, some don’t seem to understand the implications of their actions and words.  In almost all cases, the parents of the kids involved appear shocked.  Seemingly unable to believe their angels could do such a thing.  But they did.

With a limitless access to everything on the web, kids can be influenced by things they see on-line.  It’s the duty of parents to guide our kids on the right path.  To help them be better people. Especially during these times.

Imagine.  If they could do this to persons of authority, how much worse do you think they treat other people like servers, parking attendants, janitors, etc.?