While airing dirty laundry on social media is a big no-no, I am sure some of us have been guilty of this at one time in our lives. We probably even got a brutal comment thrown back at us.
We wish we could take it back, but there’s no denying that we did it, and that we left a poor soul feeling the world was one ugly place.
Case in point—Pokwang’s online tirade on social media.
While to some, the comedian-host's tirades may be just noise from a woman scorned, to Pokwang it is about a deep wound she has to excise for it to heal.
It’s been months since Mother’s Day, but I can still feel for her. She got a lot of backlash. I cannot begin to imagine what she has to endure as a well-known, single mom who must keep her head high while complete strangers rip her apart.
In an interview, Pokwang said she is more hurt by the thought that women, who are mothers themselves, are the very ones putting her down. She thought women would understand. She thought wrong.
While I think she may have gone too far by fighting crassness with crassness—via the comment section—I also believe she always had more to lose in this fight than any of the women picking on her. Her bashers don't really lose a thing. They don’t even reveal themselves, so no one can get to them. They risk nothing.
No wonder they're often called bullies.
I would be a hypocrite to say I wasn’t a keyboard warrior once in my past. I actually grew up with Friendster, Multiply, MySpace, and all other social networking sites of the early 2000s that encouraged me and everyone with internet access to go be seen and be heard.
I thought these platforms meant I had a voice and people actually gave a damn. I know, right? It’s so millennial.
Like Hannah Horvath in Girls said, “I think that I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation.” And just like that, I poured my heart and innards out on social networking sites. Oftentimes, my friends and family would call me out for getting so raw and unfiltered.
But it didn’t matter to me because, in my world, I thought I was starting a revolution. My comments mattered! My voice was important!
Then, I became a social media manager. And now, I cringe to read the comment section of the brands I handle. Some comments are valid, even civilized, while some are actually insightful—but a big chunk could have stayed unsaid, dead and buried to the world, and no one would have been the worse for it.
Suddenly, I saw a reflection of myself. It was a wake-up call—to be more mindful of what I put out there, to be more courteous when I engage, to think before I send.
It’s been eight years (and counting), and I see that the comments on the net have gotten no better. Cyberbullying has actually become a word. And it has become an everyday occurrence because netizens—not all, of course—feel entitled to throw shade, especially if you're a celebrity.
This is a netizens' chance to feel equal, even superior, to people better known and far richer. And because netizens can hide behind false identities, they find it terribly easy to put out opinions that are downright personal attacks!
Who can forget the time that Xyriel Manabat's photo (at the age of 16, a minor) went viral because people were leaving lewd comments all over the place? Mind you, this was about the body she was born with, something she had no control over.
Eventually, Xyriel opened up about going through therapy after the "sexual assault" on her photo. (Bashers have no imagination. Nobody ever thinks: what if somebody said this about my baby sister?)
Or that time Alice Dixson dyed her hair blonde, and her "favorite bashers" took it upon themselves to tell her to act her age. (Yet these bashers can probably never hope to look half as good as Alice no matter what color dye they use.)
And recently, when some basher told Priscilla Meirelles: "Malapit ka na palitan. Kabahan ka na." (The very tone of the basher suggests to me that this one has been unlucky in love.)
I see these hateful comments every day. Trust me, it's not a pretty way to start or end one's day. It can make us think people aren't worth it and can turn us less nice ourselves.
So, why do we use our freedom to spew hate? Is it because we can? Because being anonymous makes us unaccountable? Because there is personal satisfaction in telling everyone else we're right?
Because we really think we're above it all? Above making mistakes? (You have to ask, Is it even a mistake—to have a buxomy figure, to dye your hair blond, to have marital problems?)
In a world that’s already troubled, is kindness so difficult to give?
Is personal restraint so hard to exercise? When faced with a choice between being kind and being truthful, can we not lace truth with a bit of kindness? Is it not possible that the old saying is as good today as it was yesterday—if you've got nothing good to say, then don’t.