I can’t believe that the infantile phrase, “Lelong mong panot…” or the more sterilized English rendition, “your bald grandfather,” would be loosely strewn on his critics by, of all people, a congressional representative. It’s likely the thing that would provoke the ire of fellow Twitter users, especially Filipinos, who hardly take insults of the kind sitting down.
Of all the training Rep. Manny Pacquiao had undergone in his career or will still undergo as a prize-winning boxer, the one thing he should have been taught early on was propriety, least of all patience towards critics.
Internet social networking sites seem to present a psychological and sociological dilemma most people are unaware of. The idea of being in Facebook or Twitter seems to give the individual a sense of “privacy.”
Or in more metaphysical terms, even while one engages online friends sipping coffee in an establishment like Starbucks or any with free Wi-Fi, the sense of being in an enclosed area permeates what is otherwise a very public place.
The more problematic of the scenario is the erroneous belief that titles and positions of significance—be that in government or the private sector—can easily be deleted or shelved once a person is online, particularly, those who engage friends and acquaintances in social networking sites. It’s as if everything becomes a “private” matter, hence the lesser need to be “stiff” or “formal.”
Take for example Carmen Mai Mislang’s unexpected “somersault” in Twitter over some wine during an event in Vietnam: “the wine sucks.” The more cacophobic comment came like this: “Sorry po walang pogi dito” (Sorry, there are no handsome men here). That scathing commentary on Vietnamese streets, “crossing the speedy motorcycle laden streets of Hanoi is one of the easiest ways to die,” was as close a call as any, that is, in losing one’s career.
Mislang was in Vietnam as one of President Aquino’s communications personnel. Little did she know that her own rendition of an online “French leave” nearly cost her a future in government service.
Well, far be it for the internet to make one lose his grip on reality. Twitter and Facebook are as public a place as a public toilet. One cannot simply “wiggle his thing” sans any of the other users throwing a fit. And if Pacquiao feels that being the “Pambansang Iniidolong Boksingero” would somehow give his seemingly infantile tantrums a sort of safe-conduct pass, well, we know the answer to that. Pacquiao’s Twitter account, which was set up only last February, would’ve suffered unrelenting flak if it hadn’t been for the decision to finally close it.
Clearly, Twitter and Facebook have become such a venue for personal information that business establishments are checking it out before finally deciding to hire personnel.
A report by PCWorld said that “the job-search website surveyed employers and found that 20% of companies admitted to checking out candidate’s profiles on social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace before deciding to employ them. A further 9% said they planned to start reviewing potential employees’ social-networking pages in the future.”
The report further stated that “the research also revealed that while 24% of employers had hired a member of staff based on their social-networking profile, 33% had also decided not to make a job offer after reviewing the content on a profile. Use of drugs or drinking and the posting of photographs deemed ‘inappropriate’ or ‘provocative’ were identified as the most popular reasons why employers eliminated a candidate after viewing their social networking profile.”
Call it “spying,” call it due diligence, but companies do are tempted to dig for more than what a simple resume offers. In fact, a recent survey conducted by a private think tank revealed that 35% of managers use Google to accomplish online background checks on job seekers. Roughly a third of these internet searches “lead to rejections.”
Rejections are mostly based on improper posts, some tasteless or tactless note, inappropriate photographs, or inapt behaviour revealed in users comments.
Well, Pacquiao’s profession—and millions—have already saved him from the bitter reality of falling in line for hours for a job search only to be rejected on account of a Twitter post.
But never let it be said that the “Pambansang Kamao” will be given all the safe-conduct passes he would need on account of his being the best pound-for-pound boxer. Manny Pacquiao is a congressional representative of the Republic of the Philippines. That ought to be enough.
And if that isn’t enough reason for one to act properly—in Twitter or otherwise—then let’s thank God for the wisdom of the old and the wise: “If nothing good will come out of your mouth, then shut up.”
JOEL PABLO SALUD is the editor-in-chief of the Philippines Graphic magazine, the country’s top newsweekly publication under the ALC Group of Publications, which include the BusinessMirror. He is a member of the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and the Manila Critics Circle. He regularly writes reviews for the Philippines Graphic Review of Literature.