Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We are a Country of Ultranationalists Brimming with Righteous Indignation (II)

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A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the Great Book Blockade of 2009. When I first read about this, I was just like everybody else in thinking that it was all about the government making another quick buck, except that this was money made from information that was supposedly an easily accessible commodity. Needless to say, I thought it was stupid, and proceeded to share it throughout the Internet community.

This was during the early days of the book blockade. The only people who’ve made mention of it was the origin source and Manuel L. Quezon III. And then the news hit the fan, and Facebook and Twitter got into the picture.

A disclaimer: I am not for the book blockade. I am also against any and all illegal forms of taxation. I believe that the government needs to make money, but the gargantuan amount of money involved in the salary of government heads is ridiculous. You want more money? Cut back on positional salaries, and spread out the corresponding backwash to the rest of the employees.

That said, I think the widespread reaction of the Pinoy public – or at least, the Pinoy Internet public – to the book blockade was another glorious example of the Filipino’s willingness to take up arms at the drop of a hat. What struck me about it was the fact that this time around, it was the educated masses / middle class trumpeting around (on the Internet). I’m pretty used to the masses taking up arms whenever the government screws up with this or that issue, but I’ve never seen people from the same demographic as I was screw the government over with their democratic right to protest.

I’m not putting the surprisingly strong reaction to the book blockade down. It brought things to a rather speedy resolution (faster than how things usually go here in the Philippines), and I’m very thankful. It’s also very nice to actually see democracy working smoothly for once.

But I just can’t help but wonder. If the power of the Internet-driven Pinoy community was that great, it’s a wonder people haven’t tried to levy for a decrease in gasoline prices via Facebook. Or they hadn’t called for the exposition of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo by Twitter. Heck, it’s actually a wonder that there aren’t any online petitions calling to end Jejomar Binay’s plans to run in the 2010 elections.

See what I’m talking about? The curious variable in this whole mess was that the only reason these guys went to the streets – er, what’s the Internet equivalent? – was because it involved something they held to be important. This only serves to point out the old adage of infernal dynamics: The energy required to move an object in the correct direction, or put it in the right place, will be more than you wish to expend but not so much as to make the task impossible.

Meaning people will only move when they think the cause is worth their while. But as to what my own demographic considers important, well. You could say that that’s a whole new ball game.


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