You need to log off

There are just people with nothing better to do OR have so much time in their hands. Period.

Take DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin for example. He’s quick to the draw lately when it comes to posting comments on social media. His last rants and tirades with the netizens on his Twitter account regarding privacy data allegedly being “run off” by previous contractors have resulted in his documented insults and use of foul language to answer back comments and queries regarding issues with the DFA. It seems that within a day after his fast fingers did the twitting, he eventually back pedals with gusto after former DFA Chief Yasay straightened out the facts. With so much time on his hands, it seems there’s a lot of time to Tweet and not a lot of work to do at the DFA.

I guess some (many ?) government officials just have a lot of time with nothing to do.

The US has that same version of a trigger happy president on Twitter who rapidly sends off comments and opinions because the fingers think faster than the brain, resulting in kerfuffle after kerfuffle.

Star endorser Kris Aquino who is embattled with her former assistant Nicko Falcis over accountability for money he allegedly pocketed has taken to social media their cat fight, with the Filipino public apparently glued to the next scene (like a sick telenovela) on their word wars on Facebook and Twitter. It gets interesting because other characters like the has-been social climber Gretchen B. who on her Instagram social media mocks Kris Aquino (a.k.a. essentially siding with Nicko) regarding this tit for tat debacle has joined the fray. Like an unending saga, we won’t know when and how this story ends.

With so much time in their hands, and of course the gullible public and the extolling trolls getting paid to promote either side of any story on social media, it’s a wonder why anyone wants to even side with all these fairytales.

As a general rule, we’re all spectators in the arena of social media, where often times, we’re actually “coerced” to bring out the popcorn and watch how these stories (whether true or false) evolve. There are times where we end up being part of the unruly mob than just being a mere observer.

We are often being misguided and misinformed with these snippets of information. Rants, raves, lies and curses. This is the new arena where we are all judge and jury to every single event in other people’s lives.

All I can say to them – some people need to get a life.

Log off!

The soap story #PetPeeveStories

“There is no greater fool than the fool that was fooled by a fool.”

And nothing sets that example better than those very bad, false advertisements you see on media.

Let me tell you about a true story. It’s the story of a soap.

Atul Gawande, one of my favorite authors, wrote in his book entitled “The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right” as reference for this story.

One of the most revealing public health studies published was a joint public health program conducted by the US CDC (Center for Disease Control) and HOPE, a charitable organization in Pakistan, “to address the perilous rise of premature deaths among children in the slums of Karachi. The squatter settlements surrounding the megacity contained more than four million people living under some of the most crowded and squalid conditions in the world. Sewage ran in the streets. Chronic poverty and food shortages left 30-40% of the children malnourished. Virtually all drinking water sources were contaminated. One child in ten died before age five – usually from diarrhea or acute respiratory infections.

The roots of these problems were deep and multifactorial. Besides inadequate water and sewage system, illiteracy played a part, hampering the spread of basic health knowledge. Corruption, political instability, and bureaucracy discouraged investment in local industry that might provide jobs and money for families to improve their conditions. Low global agriculture prices made rural farming impossible, causing hundreds of thousands to flock to the cities in search of work, which only increased the crowding. Under these circumstances, it seemed unlikely that any meaningful improvement in the health of children could be made without a top-to-bottom reinvention of government and society.

But a young public health worker had an idea. Stephen Luby had grown up in Omaha, Nebraska, where his father chaired the obstetrics and gynaecology faculty at Creighton University. He attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern. But for some reason he was always drawn up to public health work. He took a CDC job investigating infectious outbreaks in South Carolina, but when a position came open in the CDC’s Pakistan Office he jumped to take it. He arrived in Karachi with his schoolteacher wife and began publishing his first investigations of conditions there in the late nineties.

When Gawande had spoken to him about how he thought through the difficulties, Luby looked for low-tech solutions. In this case, the solution he came up with was so humble it seemed laughable. It was soap.

Luby learned that Procter & Gamble, the consumer product conglomerate, was eager to prove the value of its new antibacterial Safeguard soap. So despite his colleagues’ skepticism, he persuaded the company to provide a grant for a proper study and to supply cases of Safeguard both with and without triclocarban, an antibacterial agent. Once a week, field workers from HOPE fanned out through 25 randomly chosen neighborhoods in the Karachi slums distributing soap, some with the antibacterial agent and some without. They encouraged people to use it in six situations: to wash their bodies once daily and to wash their hand every time they defecated, wiped an infant, or were about to eat, prepare food, or feed it to others. The field-workers then collected information on illness rates among children in the test neighbourhoods, as well as on 11 control neighborhoods, where no soap was distributed.

Luby and his team reported their results in a landmark paper published in Lancet in 2005.

What did the interventional study reveal?

1. Families in the test neighborhoods received an average of 3-4 bars of soap per week for one year. The incidence of diarrhea among children in these neighborhoods dropped 52% versus the control group, no matter which soap was used.

2. The incidence of pneumonia fell 48%.

3. The incidence of bacterial skin infection (impetigo) fell 35%.

These astounding results were achieved despite the illiteracy, the poverty, the crowding, and even the fact that, however, much soap they used, people were still drinking and washing with contaminated water!

According to Luby, Procter & Gamble were disappointed with the outcome of the study because the research concluded what infectious diseases specialists knew all along – there was no added benefit with the antibacterial agent because plain soap was just as effective.

Soap and proper hand washing was enough leverage to change the landscape of infectious diseases in the community.

And several studies before and after this landmark study had shown that proper hygiene was all that mattered.

No advertisement. No fooling the public on what soap to buy. None of that bullsh*t endorsement at all.

I tell this story to my friends and patients so that it serves as a firm reminder that NOT all marketing strategies are truthful. I’ve always told my students that a good product or commodity or drug will sell on its own. The rest need the power of push – exaggerated advertising claims!

In this dog eat dog world, let’s put a little sense into common sense and not depend on the crap that endorsers day. After all, they get paid millions of pesos to make a fool believe the fool.

Trolls and the right of reply

The last of my April entry puts closure on the recent topic of vengeance, rudeness and my fave (or pet peeve) of them all – the troll.

Thanks to Danny Wallace, I have my stories to share about trying to understand a new culture of rudeness.

Received wisdom tells us that the greatest ally of trolling on the internet is anonymity. The person whom you’re saying is a travesty of a human being does not know who you are, and therein lies both your power and your clever escape.

Notice the posts of these trolls. No pictures of their own faces. All pseudonyms. Fake addresses. Fake jobs. Everything about them is unreal. If you scroll down their page, ALL posts are inconsequential and have no bearing on their existence in the real world. They are a cowardly angry bunch of lowlife reprobates who have no meaningful contribution to the world.

We often write off the people who post abusive messages online.

This is especially true when you try to provide a personal opinion with what is an accurate constructive analysis of the posted point of view…and then a troll comes along and puts senseless rude remarks. Most trolls are probably stinking reprobates who are possibly uneducated and have nothing better to do in life except stalk the internet, having a bad day because they’re probably waiting to get a “drug” high but can’t access any so they’re taking it out on just anyone in their line of firing sight.

Bullying is an overused word these days…but it’s what the internet nevertheless allows to have a fresh new-world attempt at.

But not all the trolls are lackeys in life. Some happen to be highly educated, are highly professional people, but “troll” for either a political conviction or personal crusade. They have a real profile and a fake one. The latter is one where they hide behind in a mask of anonimity so they can dish out their rudeness because they’re pure cowards. They are simply afraid of accountability, responsibility and the consequences of being rude.

The new generation of keyboard warriors who troll, has placed both politics and media at the lowest totem pole of truth and accountability at the highest risk of disruption, transparency and fake news because because of the phenomenon called trolls.

The right to reply, while within the right of every human being, is something that we need to understand and comprehend before we hit the send key. After all, when everything is said and done, the repercussions may outweigh the act. And that’s when shit hits the roof.


…is similar to jealousy…discontent to others traits, status, abilities or rewards. The difference is the envious also desire the entity and covet it.

Today’s social platform media has not only become a main source of information but sharing material possessions and desires as well.

It’s not wrong to “post” current status but the intent is sometimes misconstrued. Even when the internet was not yet around, envy was already part of human emotions.

You buy a new Toyota Vios and your neighbor suddenly pulls up with a Porsche Cayenne. Or when your classmate comes to school with a new iPhone X but you have an Oppo smartphone.

The most susceptible are the younger ones today. Gullible, frustrated, and despondent over what others have and what they desire over, serve as a trigger for envy. But this is true for a majority of us. We “follow” personalities and friends to get a peek into their lifestyles. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it becomes a little weird when subconsciously, the “fan” turns into an envious state.

Many psychologists say that the power of envy has become stronger because of social media. Advertisement has become the fuel that ignites the promotion of “wants” rather than needs.

When you already have a laptop, why would you need another one? Is it because your best friend Susie has MacBooks and you WANT one, or is it because you NEED a new one because the specs of your old laptop is too low?

Envy takes up an empty personal space in our lives. It breeds a burning desire of wanting what the other has, but not in a good way. Often times it becomes a painful obsession that burns deep. The subconscious takes over and it feels like a thwarted sense of rationalisation that “if I can’t have it then so can’t you” attitude. Envy misplaces our priorities in life.

Being content with what we have is an attitude we can all learn.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that

Comparison is the thief of Joy.

True or false?

I couldn’t imagine the day when we’d be living in times when truth and lies would be challenging to discern. More confusing is how people today use/abuse social media in order to sow more incertitude.

The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal that’s dragging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the Facebook Team for using data analytics to promote a political thrust is an example of a social platform gone awry.

Cambridge Analytica is a British political consulting firm which combines data mining, data brokerage and data analysis to change audience behaviour. Established in 2013 as an offshoot of the SCL (Strategic Communications Laboratory) group, the core business of CA is to influence the outcome of politics.

Recently, CA has been at the center of criminal investigation when the New York Times and The Observer reported the data breach of Facebook and CA, wherein the company (CA) used for political purposes personal information acquired by FB users, by an external researcher who claimed to be collecting it for academic research.

The breach in privacy of FB users has questioned the role of social media platforms at a time where digital technology plays a significant role in the lives of everyone in this planet.

Once upon a space, I thought that my FB wall was a safe space. You wouldn’t think that posting a rant or a celebration or a loss, would even be a public concern or outcry (however you would like to put the scenario), just for having your own opinion. It is, after all, your wall and your opinion.

But come to think about it, why would anyone give you free space to share if there wasn’t anything they’d want in return? That’s right. There are no freebies in this world. And what better source of tapping at the core of privacy than allowing social media access to it. After all, when the platform goes “viral”, the data that is mined would be priceless. Data is power!

What began as a tech tool for a couple of thousand Harvard students in 2004 evolved as rapidly as digital technology boomed. As of this writing, there are more than 2.2 Billion users monthly for Facebook.

And while social media has enraptured its subscribers as a means for reaching out and sharing opinions, pages, rants, raves, and commerce, it has also reared an ugly head. Fake news, hate speeches, rudeness, inappropriate sex and violence have enticed the gullible buffoons to “like” and “share” ideologies and ludicrous behaviour.

Social media has, unfortunately, lately been a forbearer of malice and disarray.

Here are a few tips on “posting” on social media platforms:

1. The less you reveal, the more people wonder.

While shoutouts may vary from a cause for celebration to letting people know of a loss, managing the kind of “shouts” are important. There are shoutouts that should actually be “shut ups”.

2. It’s not the number of “followers” that make you better than anyone else.

Yep. That’s right. You can have an army of idiots or trolls who follow you, but it gives no special meaning in life if the numbers don’t reflect the kind of person that can be trusted as a purveyor of truth rather than lies. Remember, Hitler had millions of followers, Jesus had only 12.

3. Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.

Social media platforms are meant to ignite the flames. Make sure that the content you provide speak of your level of maturity. You don’t have to broadcast your emotions in order to gain sympathy. Don’t be a “meme”. Unless you have no better thing to do in life.

4. Be cautious of people whose actions don’t match their words.

And yes, just because you asked me to be your friend, I truly apologize if I don’t accept it. After all, if I don’t know you that well or I don’t know you at all, I don’t want you prying into my wall or space. Be careful with people who ask to follow you just because you share common “friends”. Not all are who they say they are.

This online NETIQUETTE is a gentle reminder on what we write, post, and share.