“The thought that so many people get their news from social media really is scary.” Rush Limbaugh
By Alex P. Vidal
A few minutes after major streets in Iloilo City were flooded due to monsoon rains brought by typhoon “Florita” last July 7, the whole world immediately learned of the situation via social media.
Photos of flooded downtown streets immediately spread in the Facebook and Twitter, enabling fellow Ilonggos living outside Western Visayas and in other countries to get a clear ringside account of what was going on in the City of Love.
The speed and accuracy of the news transmitted via social media that very moment gave disaster coordinating councils in the region ample time to spruce up their rescue operation teams just in case the situation turns awry.
Forty years ago, photos of floods and other disasters reached the attention of people in other regions only after several weeks when newspapers published them. Horrors of actual damage and death were chronicled only on radio reports. Even television networks at that time were not as fully-equipped and as state-of-the-art compared to the technology we have today.
Most high-tech mobile phones now have digital cameras that can transmit photos and videos in a snap of a finger to the global village via the social media.
It was not hard to get the sympathy of people in other countries when super-typhoon “Yolanda” struck in Central Visayas last November 2013 because the destruction was seen all over the world courtesy of the social media, thus foreign relief assistance poured in dizzying speed and volumes.
Access has become smooth and easy to actual scenes of riots, earthquakes, tsunamis, mining disasters, violent police operations, collapse of buildings, dispersals of street rallies, fisticuffs involving parliament members, traffic altercations, ATM robberies, burglaries, sex scandals as these can be conveniently taken from the CCTV and mobile phones and uploaded to Youtube via mini tablets, laptops and desktop units and become parts of household, office and even school entertainments.
The power of social media is limitless and boundless. It can sway public opinion; it can provoke insurrection; it can be used to destroy and promote personalities, clubs, products, religious groups, politicians, athletes, and events.
The netizens have become the most influential purveyors of real and reel information and reliable liaisons between media and public. In terms of speed and accuracy, the netizens have given the mainstream press a run for their money, so to speak.
Because of social media, Fr. Romeo Obach of Sacred Heart Chapel in Jagobiao, Mandaue City was forced to apologize to the 17-year-old unwed mother he had humiliated during the baptism of the girl’s child last July 6.
More Fr. Obachs all over the country made the same horrendous misbehavior in the past but managed to get away with their demagoguery because their evil acts and verbal abuses were not recorded for all the world to see and hear. Suffice it to say that if the unwed mother’s 12-year-old sister did not record Fr. Obach’s ungodly misconduct, the prelate would not have capitulated.
Social media also gave us front seat view of how Brazil was steamrolled by Germany in one of the host country’s lousiest FIFA World Cup matches in recent memory last July 9, and how fast when we learned that San Antonio Spurs defrocked Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA finals last month.