Trolling with the Homies
I am perhaps one of the most hated online personalities this year. After coining the word, “Dutertard” to describe the “lazy” and “delusional” followers of our recently elected president, it’s safe to say 16 million people aren’t throwing any love my way. But it’s all cool. I realize that if one lives by social media, one can die by social media. Or at the very least, receive four death threats a day on the average. So Esquire asks: What do you when the world turns on you online? It’s simple: You turn around, tune out, and remember the following:
A.) It’s all an illusion. It’s all veils of Maya. The internet isn’t reality, it’s perception. Facebook is a medium, not the message. When confronted with insults such as “bayaran”; “bayot” “elitista” and the ever so subtle, “Sana ma-rape ka ng adik.”, I remind myself that these words aren’t tangible acts. Social media is devoid of personal interaction and this gives trolls – and some real people – a sense of infallibility. Cyberspace is their safe space. It gives them the bravery to say things that they would never in real life. And since these people think of themselves as a non-entities through the facade of Facebook anonymity, I really can’t take them personally.
B.) It’s all about love: It is said that hate is a form of love. Creating a meme of yours truly giving Mar Roxas a blowjob as he’s buggered by Noy Aquino isn’t an easy task. The “Hater” has to go online, log on to a search engine, find a picture of me (one with my mouth open at that), one of Mar Roxas, and one of Noy Aquino. After that, they must leaf through page upon page of gay porn until they find an image that would suit their idea. Finally, the hater has to download the images, photoshop it, add text, and send it out via the comments section of my public page. The process takes more than 20 minutes. That’s a lot of time to spend on me. That’s a lot of effort, that’s obsession, that’s love. And for that I am grateful.
C. It’s all about charity. I suspect the average Filipino troll to be between the age of 25-55, pale from lack of sunlight, unhappy, lonely, and with way too much time on their hands. All trolls want is attention so why not give it to them? So when I offer replies such as: “e di wow rin ang mukha mo” or “#changeiscomingmypwet”, I validate that troll’s existence. That short reply helps a them feel alive and that their ideas (however lame as they may be), now exists in real time and real space. A spark of joy is sparked; a give goes forward. And the best part? the satisfaction is instantaneous. So if you want to give to the less fortunate, reply to a troll. It’s almost like donating money to a church. The gratification is real. Kinda. Unless of course, the troll is a fake account and using cut and paste – then just block and delete. Period.
D.) It’s all about living in the present. The only thing constant in this world is change. Viral controversies don’t last long. Remember the Hayden Kho scandal? Remember the “Amalayer” girl? I’m sure you do only because I reminded you. Although I may not have to drop my trousers or chew out a poor security guard to become a national obsession, the fact that I had to remind you about these two only proves my point: Filipinos have no memory. We have the collective attention span of a new born kitten. We forget. Period. Forgiveness isn’t even part of the equation. The past is done, the future hasn’t happened so there’s only now. And for now, they must troll. It’s the natural order of things and I accept it.
E. It’s all about freedom. Although it’s not fun reading page upon page of hate, I cannot and will not let online aggression silence me. My opinion differs from that of 16 million people who voted for Duterte, but it’s my opposing view that makes a democracy work. To have an opposing opinion is a human right; it’s everyone’s duty to speak up when one sees something wrong. If you choose to be silent about abuses or transgressions, then you become complicit and the bad people win. I truly believe that freedom of speech is absolute and it is under threat because people online now are choosing to be silent because of the Duterte troll machine. This is wrong. If a society believes that leaders should be followed without question, then that society does not know how freedom works nor do they deserve it.
So troll away, everyone. And live to troll another day. Long live democracy.
An edited version of this article appeared in Esquire Philippines August 2016 issue.