By Grace M. Pulido Tan
Happy Valentine’s Day! On this very special day for love and lovers, please remember that it is also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a most compelling day to likewise have a date with our (supposed to be) greatest love and lover. It is also a good day to reflect on the deeply agitating era of pervasive misinformation and lies that we live in today.
Check your phone; see the cornucopia of messages, from threatening chain letters to flood alerts to cure-all prescriptions. Don’t forget the “from a friend/another viber group” accounts of misadventures and the endless stream of trivia. How much of these are true? Who cares? Easier to forward than to fact-check.
Turn the TV on. So much news, commentaries, and information being dished out every minute. Is everything true or truthful? Maybe not, but then again, who cares? With the overload, they don’t even sound coherent or intelligible anymore. Easier to be won over or simply shut off than to take pause and think through.
Open the papers and be cajoled by bold headlines into reading the finer prints… only to find out that the heading and the body are often non-sequitur. I am happier with the Oped sections; at least I know they are opinions, like mine. Doing the crossword puzzles and solving Sudoku take the cake.
Let’s not even talk about fake news and vile, salacious social media posts. You get the drift, I refuse to compound my agitation and confusion. My big dilemma is, who or what can I trust?
It wasn’t like this before when, ironically, channels of communication and access to information were limited. Media was THE authority, credible and trustworthy. Journalists were icons of bravery and meticulous research. Newsmakers, particularly officials of the land and business mavens, took special efforts to at least appear statesmanly, professional, punctilious and circumspect. Public relations was a legitimate profession, not a propaganda machine.
Today, we have to contend with bloggers, trolls and sycophants, unabashed apologists of their equally unabashed principals. Of course, they are not the universe – we still have some good men and women standing – but they have put our sanity on the brink with the culture of misinformation and lies they have spawned.
Even in our relationships, the same culture prevails. For one, we now engage with each other so much less on a personal, face-to-face level. We can’t even spend as much time together anymore because of the horrendous traffic and the increasing complexity of daily life. We are missing out terribly on emotional connectivity and the body languages of touch, eye contact, and tender conversations. We are growing apart, not closer, in this age of technology. If we do not watch out, we shall soon be strangers, not anymore knowing who and what is real of the other.
Wasn’t it this same culture of lies and misinformation that led Jesus to Calvary? Sure, He resurrected on the third day and brought us salvation. But we are not Jesus. We are ordinary mortals who, nonetheless, deserve the right to live in a respectful environment and not be taken for any sort of whimsical ride.