The onlookers and the thing called rude

There’s a Filipino habit that’s really both irritating and entertaining at the same time. We call these people “miron” (onlookers).

They’re people who like minding other people’s business. (I guess it’s a cultural thing). They have so much time in their lives minding how others live even if they’re epic failures at their own.

A typical example is when a minor accident on the already heavily crowded roads of Metro Manila occurs. As the drivers approach the scene of the accident, they slow down (I mean really slooooooowww down). And of course, add to the already building traffic. The people on the sidewalk are not much help. They’re just there. Looking. Staring. (No one will bother to call the police or assist). They’re like statues stationed at the site, listening to the exchange in arguments, and in a few minutes, the gathering swells large enough to obstruct the road.

A more recent example is the latest spat between erstwhile local media “queen” Kris A., her ex husband James Y., and TV host Korina S. R.

It has the netizens eyes glued on Bimby, the love child of Kris and James, being the center of the “fight”. While the pathetic online drama is being paraded by media as a “national issue”, the entertainment piece has incorporated a mix of political under toning by the tactless sister of ex-president PNoy. Washing dirty laundry is, after all, her forte. And what juicier news than being an “onlooker” at what’s happening to lives of the rich and famous.

Nothing wrong in “appreciating” some salacious facts there. If this happened two decades back, it wouldn’t be given much attention except in some sleazy tabloid where it would be categorized as a WTF news. We’d have our own opinions and we’d probably gossip about it for gossip sake, but whatever opinion the public has over the matter is kept unrecorded. And the number of people “viewing” this, wouldn’t matter.

In the digital age, the internet has played a role at fomenting rudeness online. Danny Wallace, in his book “F you very much: understanding the culture or rudeness – and what we can do about it” points out that “the rage the internet stirs up and allows us to vent threatens to derail the thing that once made it beautiful. Newspapers, once so proud to welcome in the community and get a discussion going, are now wary of their own below-the-line commenters. Those who stick their necks out sigh as they press “PUBLISH,” knowing that whatever they say and no matter how clearly they say it will be accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, stupidity, thoughtlessness. And as you already know, they have their favorite targets.”

And he’s right. Whatever you “post”, people will either love you or hate you. A closed loop of friends may be the best alternative but that’s not going to happen for media.

Social media has practically made us all “onlookers”. We scroll through posts and look at those that are interesting enough to “share”, “like”, or feel over. Then of course, we can take it a notch higher by commenting as well.

But it’s easy to tweak a mob and they’re always just there waiting for it. A hungry, angry mob that can get angry about anything!

The challenge is in dealing with the “onlookers” who, in so few words – need to get a life! Healthy scholarly discussions have become a thing of the past. Even among the supposedly more educated tribe, some of the commentary exchanges have become pathetically trivial, rude, and sadly, stupid.

It’s like arguing with someone who has an IQ of 30 for a topic that requires at least a minimum IQ of 100.

And then there are the fake onlookers. They’re not real people. Fake accounts. Trolls. It’s bad enough we have to deal with “real stupid” people. But dealing with trolls that are employed or just innately rude, is so not worth testing your patience with.

Remember: no one wins an argument with stupid.