The viciousness of the ill-informed

Published April 4, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin

In today’s world, it is easy to have an opinion on anything. It is even easier to have that opinion known, all you need is a working internet connection and a number of followers on social media. This has even become more evident in the weeks and months leading up to the 2022 National Elections, with supporters of every candidate from every corner of the world and the world wide web fervently fanning feelings online.

Sadly, it has become apparent that many of those who have more time to comment on certain issues often have little time to do their own research. Reading a headline of a particular article, for example, without going through the actual article is often enough to get the online crowd to react and compose a long post that rival even the best socio-political talking-heads in the days before social media.

The observation comes from the quality of comments made online. A lot has been said about how the art of argumentation has been lost with the advent of social media, as the online public too often resort to logical fallacies in “attacking” those who run opinions contrary to their own—that it is referred to as an “attack” is, in fact, its own argument. Many arguments tend to be against a person and not their opinion or ideas.

In the case of the ongoing election campaign season, this is seen in how supporters attack each other in supposed defense of their candidates. Even more unfortunate is how these arguments are often premised, from every side, with expletives coupled with name calling. The most often insult hurled by these camps at each other is “bobo” or stupid. If one supports another candidate, one is automatically “bobo,” as if differences in opinion is tantamount to idiocy.

What is worse is that this kind of argument, which hardly deserves to be called an argument, misses the point completely. This viciousness does not serve the ideas and principles a person supposedly espouses nor the candidates that a supporter purportedly promotes. When one calls the other “bobo” and the other replies with a similar insult, the conversation stops before it even begins.

It is, sadly, the viciousness of the ill-informed. Ill-informed because there is no attempt to know the other side of the story, to listen to arguments that run counter to one’s opinion. Sadder still is when this reluctance to listen to the other is due to the inability to process differing ideas and opinions out of a misplaced fervor — that emotional attachment to one’s beliefs, which is not negative on its own but can be render discussions invalid on the premise that one’s feelings can be hurt in the process.

While it is true that opinions, beliefs, principles, and even one’s support for a candidate are personal by nature, there is no need to take comments made by someone who does not espouse similar ideals or favor the same politico personally.