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It’s your blog

Yesterday – or yesternight … whatevs – Noemi Dado plurked about Manuel Viloria’s post: Obliterated with the invitation to everyone to be the judge. Since that plurk appeared on my timeline, it meant that either Dado was a Friend or I was a Fan of hers. Or at least that’s what I understand about the way Plurk works. Certainly, I’d requested to be Dado’s plurk Friend out of a degree of admiration for her.

In short order, responses started piling up on Dado’s plurk, all of which revolved around practically the same theme: don’t mind him, he’s just jealous of you/your success/whatev.

Now me, I have someone very close to me who has this terribly chronic case of persecution complex. Her mother, for want of a better way to deal with her daughter’s neuroses, has taken to replying “inggit lang yan sa’yo” every time her daughter starts rampaging about some slight or insult.

As a result, this young woman has ended up with the belief that criticism especially from people she dislikes or don’t know are rooted in envy, hence invalid. In fact, sometimes she considers criticism from friends and family just as rooted in envy as criticism from others. 

The problem with that is, with that sort of attitude, she has lost a very important feedback mechanism that would have helped her spot her faults and improve herself. It’s like looking at the mirror and calling it a liar. What the hell is the mirror for?

Ever since I met this woman and her mother, I’ve been exceptionally wary of the “naiinggit lang yan sa’yo” dismissal of criticism. So, when I saw Dado’s plurk getting replies almost completely along those lines, I decided to take a second look at Viloria’s post.

Viloria speaks of  

“a high profile blogger earlier referred to Mayor Pangandaman and his father, Sec. Pangandaman as dysfunctional,”

but who, when the Pangandaman’s side of the story started coming out, changed her characterization of the Secretary to a parenthesized (“Peacemaker appointee.”)

Viloria suggested that this change – which he noted was not accompanied by any sort of explanation – might be because Dado was afraid of getting sued for libel. And this is what Dado eventually ended up discussing in her own blog.

But read Vilario’s post all the way to the end and you come across this:

I’m not here to defend or side with either the Pangandamans or the Dela Pazes. I just hope that bloggers and non-bloggers inspired to start blogging (given that even columnists such as Amando Doronila write about the “power” of blogs and bloggers) will think not once, but twice before hitting the “publish” button. But anyway…

What’s the lesson here for bloggers? It’s so easy to jump on a story and take the one side of a blogger, against someone else who is not a blogger, or who is not a friend of a blogger friend. You can always blog that you want to hear the other side, while in the very same blog post categorically label the silent side as “dysfunctional.”

You can later remove such words, and your blog post will appear as if your Dec 27 post were never published any differently from how it looks today.

These passages spelled it out clearly for me: Viloria’s post was trying to make the point that bloggers should not pre-judge situations and then blog about it; especially considering the ‘power’ of blogs. More or less a variation on nearly every pa-cool pundit’s favorite quote from Spiderman. The dig about a possible libel suit was just gratuitous teasing, hardly deserving of a full-blown response.

Viloria’s words also carried an accusatory undercurrent that was never really completely articulated. Nevertheless, since the undercurrent was pretty clear, let me summarize:

  • Dado, in calling the Pangandamans dysfunctional reflected her prejudgment of the situation – precisely the act Viloria was warning against.
  • By changing that label to the infinitely milder – she sez was going for irony- “(a Peacemaker appointee)” Dado implicitly, but no less effectively, accepted that she needed to show a bit more objectivity – itself an admission that she did pre-jude the situation.
  • And that by making the change without disclosure to her readers as to her whys, Dado sought to conceal her slide back to objectivity. 

Seeing this aspect of Viloria’s post that was being ignored by commenters on her plurk, I wanted to shared the insight with Dado via a comment on her plurk.

SIDEBAR: Later on, when I checked my timeline, Dado’s plurk – and my response with it – vanished. I checked out her profile page (from where I’d originally posted my response to her plurk) had been set to private. 

Like I said at the top of this post, I don’t know for 100% certain if we were Friends or if I was just a Fan of hers, but I do remember that we WERE Friends, and that all of a sudden we weren’t; and that at 12 noon of January 9, my karma was at 79.24, and that now, at 12:41 a.m. of January 12, my karma is still at 79.24. Was I un-friended and so took a Karma hit?

Just to clarify, I don’t mind being un-friended or losing Karma – despite the fact that I’ve been obsessing on hitting 81 karma points since before Christmas 2008 LOL! – and I’m certainly not begrudging anyone their right to un-friend me.

Oh, and of course no one is obligated to Friend you or remain your Friend. Just to clarify that I understand and accept that too. 😀

I don’t think she appreciated that (see SIDEBAR). Nevertheless, I think the whole thing with Viloria’s comment, and Dado’s response deserves deeper consideration. Especially this, from Dado:

Oh well, excuse me, Mr. Link Baiter, this is my blog and I have every right to edit and change adjectives as I deem fit without changing the essence of the sentence. (Mr. Link Baiter does not deserve a link love but I am sure an anonymous commenter will soon post the link in your blog.) I have also every right to edit, delete and filter comments as I please.

I agree that it is her blog and she does have every right to edit anything about it (I disagree though that the edit Viloria pointed out didn’t change the essence. It didn’t change the sentence’s meaning, sure, but it certainly changed the subtext if not necessarily the context. See SIDEBAR2). 

SIDEBAR2: Part of her response to Viloria, Dado writes that “Whether I changed a word or not, my stand remains. It never changed. I condemn the action taken on the 14 year old boy trying to defend a father. I condemn the abuse of authority.” Fair enough. But her use of the word “dysfunctional” clearly indicated that censure of the Pangandamans, at least, was one of the pillars of  her original stand. Her deletion of that word, on the other hand, just as clearly indicates that her ‘stand’ is now missing it’s third pillar.

But … but … she’s momblogger!

Momblogger is a brand – whether you think of it that way or not – and momblogger opinions are pretty persuasive for a lot of bloggers, myself included. 

It’s kinda like Cory Aquino leading the charge at Edsa Dos and suddenly apologizing to Erap.

I doubt that I was the only one who was motivated to learn more about the Pangandamans when I read how the momblogger characterized him as dysfunctional; and I admit that that characterization was instrumental in defining my opinion of father and son. 

To discover later on that momblogger had apparently softened her stand did leave me feeling stranded high and dry. Now, of course, I’m responsible for my own opinion, and I’m standing by it – not blaming her at all or saying that she mislead me or anything of that sort. But what Viloria said is relevant:

Yes, you can blog and delete, but people will save copies and never forget. And when you materially edit in this manner (without apparent disclosure), you do more than merely erase a dysfunctional word or two.

You obliterate your credibility. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say Dado has lost her credibility, but the brand certainly doesn’t appear as shiny to me as it used to. Not that one person’s opinion is awfully significant; my drama, I know, prolly matters little to her, and much less in the grand scheme of things. But, see this is MY blog, and I can write whatever I please.

And what i want to write is this:

Writers – bloggers included – most especially those who count as shapers of opinion, should be held to higher standards. 

Such writers – bloggers included – who find themselves in a situation where they need to modify their previous positions may reasonably be expected to offer at least an explanation of why their positions have been altered. Obviously this isn’t a right demandable by anyone, but I believe that a moral and ethical obligation exists. 

Writers – bloggers included – should not dismiss criticism off-hand. When we immediately accept “naiinggit lang yan” as a valid reason, there is the implicit assertion that we are successful enough to be envied and that we are incapable of error: the former is not necessarily true, while the latter is a rank impossibility.

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Filed under: blogging, musings, , , , , , ,

28 Responses

  1. yolynne says:

    Very good insight! I believe Blogging in the Philippines is still not at its peak, and things like this do happen. I believe, Blogging is a different culture in itself that is shaping and growing tremendously at a very fast pace, and in every step, we learn and I hope become wiser as well. As a blogger, we grow, mature and change in every blog we post. We influence and gain prestige individually which is very empowering. Let’s just put every thing in perspective, logically. Things do get out of hand when our emotions takes its course.

    Thanks for the nice post!

  2. brianbro says:

    Yahaha, RoMANy! You should listen to me more often. Didn’t I write somewhere that friends will jeopardize your principles?

  3. brianbro says:

    I also have this attitude that saves me from moral vanity. Well, not really an attitude but my upbringing, you see. I was brought up with the idea that I’m a recalcitrant person, a blacksheep. I had a twin while still in the tummy. Doc heard two heartbeats, then (don’t ask me which trimester) the other guy suddenly vanished. Legend has it, I’m a born murderer. Don’t you think it’s more like “unborn” murderer. Anyway, totally agree with the upbringing/conditioning issue you put forward

  4. brianbro says:

    Wait, your last two paragraphs:

    “Writers – bloggers included – most especially those who count as shapers of opinion, should be held to higher standards. ”

    I thought you also read Manolo’s blog. His usual MO after making a mistake: be silent, then adopt the POV of the person who called you out. Pretty effective and he doesn’t lose credibility. Besides, most of his critics are man enough not to take him to task on his frequent one-eighties pretty often:)

  5. cocoy says:

    when the whole thing started, it was an explosion of events. Most bloggers rallied around Bambie because

    1) she was a blogger

    2) little guy versus big guy/government official and the arrogance of those in power. we have that as default setting.

    3) i remember countless times, momblogger, nick and others were looking for the other side’s opinion only to face a wall of silence.

    Did these circumstances prove us all wrong?
    What do we know now? Both sides aren’t entirely guilt free.

    Was it wrong for bloggers to rally behind a cause? I don’t think so. Was it wrong to help those in need? I don’t think so.

    By drawing the information out did we inevitability draw the truth out? i’d like to think so. Justice is going to be served, imho.

    Is the momblogger brand— and similar brand names by bloggers tarnished–? I don’t think so. I respect momblogger for standing up for an issue. Her opinion carries a lot of weight.

    As a community is our overall rep tarnish? I think so. But does the world know how powerful blogs are?

    Yes.

    What this issue do for the local blogscene was game changing. Politicians no longer see blogs as something to be ignored. Maybe going forward we get BOTH sides on the get go and thus be able to judge better what the truth is.

    Our default setting is that we think government officials are arrogant and power hungry people. I don’t think that has changed. There is no cause for it to change.

    What are we going to do with all this responsibility?

  6. rom says:

    cocoy:

    Is the momblogger brand— and similar brand names by bloggers tarnished–? I don’t think so. I respect momblogger for standing up for an issue. Her opinion carries a lot of weight.

    We all do. We all respect her for taking a stand, just like many of us did. But that’s precisely the trouble, see? Some of us are standing by what we said and taking flak for it, but that’s okay. We wait for the next issue to show that we’ve learned our lesson and can be more circumspect.

    Others, however, seem to have subtly modified old positions. Perfectly within their rights to do so, of course, but … it’s like charging the enemy because you thought the cavalry was behind you, only at the height of the carnage, to look back and see the cavalry putting their horses out to pasture.

    Why not? Horses have to eat, right? It’s just that you would appreciate having been told that there’d be no cavalry charge.

  7. brianbro says:

    “As a community is our overall rep tarnish? I think so. But does the world know how powerful blogs are?

    Yes. ”

    Cocoy, your bravado is making me dizzy. When a great power sees a little power rising up, what does it do? When politicians see us as dangerous, what do you think will happen? The time we realize our power is also the time we all become more careful, bro, and once we start mincing words and double-checking our adverbs we lose power. Such is the irony of life on the Web.

    Our savior? Our current identity as individuals among many. Sure, some exemplars would prefer to lead and take advantage of their leadership position online for various purposes but that will only expose their necks. Bloggers don’t have a company to back them up like writers for newspapers. One can’t just rely on community effort as well, this being the Philippines. Take note, the first blogger who spread the Bambee virus is silent about the matter now. The most boisterous condemners of the Pangandamans are also silent. Noemi Dado has staked her pride on the matter, as I’ve pointed out to her, and has no choice but to continue, given her personality too and reputation. Her husband will help her, no doubt. Then FV’s Nick, who led the anti-pangandaman brigade in the political blogs. So where’s the rest of the hundred or so blogger who joined in at the first clarion call…

    YOU CANNOT TRUST bloggers. When the going gets tough, most of these people will leave you high and dry. So few good ones out there, ROM included among them. Believe me, I know the personality type of a trustworthy person. Heck, even Benig0 (mr. anonymous himself) is a lot more trustworthy than those so-called concerned bloggers. PRINCIPLES, PEOPLE!

  8. Cocoy says:

    Brianbro,

    I think you misunderstood the nature of new media.

    The beauty of blogs and of new media in general is that other people’s comments CAN change the blogger’s perspective. That’s part of the power of new media. It isn’t static. It isn’t black and white.

    It WORKS both ways.

    So what if you’ve convinced the blogger that his or her opinion was wrong? Shouldn’t we all say, BRAVO instead of I TOLD YOU SO?

    To borrow from the Art of War, “Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful.” to win him over is better than destroying him outright.

    How do you TRUST bloggers? YOU USE YOUR HEAD. Read their opinion, discuss it. Scobelizer is a respected blogger online. Is he prone to jumping the gun every so often, yes. You know what? Everyone reads his work and we judge for ourselves IF he’s BULL.

    At the end of the day it is about THINKING. It is about DISCERNING. If most people don’t have that, I for one can’t help them. It takes BRAINS to read blogs. It takes courage to reply aptly.

    And just because we have differences in opinion, doesn’t mean we dislike or hate each other. Sparks for instance, we disagree all the time— but i respect her opinion. MLQ3 i disagree with many of his positions but I respect him too.

    Change our mind! that’s what the community is FOR.

    That’s what NEW MEDIA is all about.

  9. Cocoy says:

    YOU CANNOT TRUST bloggers. When the going gets tough, most of these people will leave you high and dry. So few good ones out there, ROM included among them. Believe me, I know the personality type of a trustworthy person. Heck, even Benig0 (mr. anonymous himself) is a lot more trustworthy than those so-called concerned bloggers. PRINCIPLES, PEOPLE!

    The Nature of New Media is that it is a TWO WAY STREET. Bloggers’ work/opinion can be changed by comments. It makes us think. The matter isn’t static. It isn’t black and white. The nature of this universe is such that both blogger and commenter can see crap, call both on it.

    The rapid response time is most apt to change the conversation. BOTH sides can.

    This isn’t a newspaper. This isn’t TV. This isn’t Radio. This is New Media.

    Normal people still don’t GET it. One day I hope they will.

  10. brianbro says:

    I mean, the personality types that make up most of the pinoy blogosphere.

    New Media? Unless, the laws appreciate the human factor in this rapid response (i.e. always give blogger opportunity to edit libelous statements), we’re in the same boat with other media. This NEW media has to be recognized by law, its unique characteristics included, hopefully.

  11. rom says:

    can I be NOT a part of new media plz? I’m just a diarist with a keyboard ‘stead of a pen. LOL!

  12. […] you want more good stuff, go on to Smoke, (if you haven’t already), Rom wrote “It’s Your Blog” and makes a very good point on what makes this whole blogging scene so much smarter and so […]

  13. sheila says:

    When I read the momblogger’s post about the dysfunctional post, it was clear that there is bias. It’s alright but that bias also indicated that it was a libelous statement.

    Now that that phrase has been removed, has the libel also been removed? I guess not. It was already stated and people already read about it.

    She did not changed her position. She is just being careful now that she knows she can be the next target for a lawsuit.

    I say, welcome the lawsuit and stand ground.

  14. […] I did not miss the buzz in the blogosphere about credibility in blogging and being unplurked because of “inggit” […]

  15. baycas says:

    I wonder (again) what made the momblogger think (initially perhaps) that MV and I are one and the same OR we’re somehow in cahoots when in fact I only alerted her of MV’s “Obliterated…” post as soon as I chanced upon (by Google Blog search) and read it.

    Was it the same as when she initially labeled the Pangandamans a dysfunctional lot? Was it a case of jumping to conclusion?

    cc:
    NL Dado

  16. […] what about Rom’s It’s Your Blog… I don’t know about you, but after reading that blog post, I sensed that Rom felt […]

  17. […] We’re not there yet. “Writers – bloggers included – most especially those who count as shapers of opinion, should be held ….” […]

  18. […] Anti Pangandaman Blog Credibility in Blogging and the Libel Suit against Blogger Bambee de la Paz It’s your blog The Right to Bitch […]

  19. The Ca t says:

    Sometimes the bloggers have to pause and discern whether the statements addressed to her is criticism or is just a reminder.

    I for one got her ire when I wrote in yuga’s blog about the requirement when a child is being questioned about some issues,

    I was not “unplurked” but i was blocked from her website.

  20. rom says:

    The Ca t: welcome to the smoking room! Thinking back on benign0’s constant reminders about his being banned from many blogs and forums, i’m beginning to suspect that I may have just joined some sort of anti-club. LOL!

  21. cvj says:

    Isn’t it blogging etiquette to use strikethrough when deleting?

  22. rom says:

    cvj:like the Pirate Code, uncle, i think what we call eitquette may just be … like … guidelines. LOL!

  23. baycas says:

    part of my comment here

    Comment by Noemi
    2009-01-11 16:48:08
    How interesting that Manuel said the same thing in his blog re google cache. You think I am afraid of google cache? Read my lips: My sentence still stands the same.

    @Noemi

    ANC viewers will be able to READ YOUR LIPS when you talk about full disclosure in blogging in order to maintain credibility and when you speak about the effect of jumping to conclusions in the New Media.

    Comment by Noemi
    2009-01-13 18:49:27
    …Incidentally, you will hear more from me when I guest in ANC’s Media in Focus hosted by Che che lazaro on Thursday, January 15 6 to 7 pm. The topic is “de la paz and blogging”. Other guests are Carlo conde, atty disini and someone from Ang Kapatiran.

    —–
    quotes copy-pasted from A Filipina Mom Blogger

  24. baycas says:

    oops, full disclosure up to a certain extent…

  25. Patricia Evangelista says:

    Hello Rom,

    I just read your post, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too late to invite you to appear today at 6pm on ANC’s Media in Focus. Call time is at 5:30pm at Studio 6, and we would very much appreciate your insights regarding blogging, it’s nature and the various issues attached to it.

    Please contact me through pat.evangelista@gmail.com, and I’ll be happy to call you directly if you can leave a contact.

    Cheers,

    Patricia Evangelista
    Executive Producer
    Media in Focus, ANC

  26. brianbro says:

    So, you’re going?

  27. jepoy says:

    I blogged about it because, as what Cocoy said, I don’t like the idea of a public official mauling a 14 yr old boy.

    The Pangandamans could have always walked away, end of story right?

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