Educate, not bash, people who believe in false info – sociologists


photo grabbed from ‘Ikaw, Anong Ambag Mo? Government Political Systems and Policy Implementation Amidst Pandemic’ webinar

FILIPINOS SHOULD engage in active citizenship by educating people vulnerable to false information rather than criticizing them, sociologists said.

Active citizenship entails developing critical thinking and using facts to raise awareness, Mindanao State University-General Santos City sociology professor Mario Aguja said.

“In Sociology, we are trained to speak about the facts. [Whether] they accept it or they don’t accept it, we deliver our facts and we use our facts to convince a lot of people,” said Aguja during the ‘Ikaw, Anong Ambag Mo? Government Political Systems and Policy Implementation Amidst Pandemic’ webinar last Nov. 13.

Aguja noted that facts in discourses are being replaced by opinions in social media, but one’s action should always be guided by the facts.

“Our bias is our solidarity with other people because you may come up with other facts, but at the end of the day, it does not mirror the lives of people because you failed to develop that kind of empathy,” he said.

Aguja also urged the Artlets to raise the level of discourse with trolls to find a way to engage with them.

“Let’s go back to the main discourse, and the main discourse is ‘what is our dream in order to build a just and humane society?’” he said.

Sociology professor and municipal councilor of Malinao, Aklan Frederick Rey reminded students not to impose their views on other people.

“We will not show others that we are divisive and that we are arrogant, but we will embrace their shortcomings and give them a chance to see the truth for themselves,” said Rey.

Political trolling

When viewed from a labor perspective, online trolling reflects the country’s inability to produce jobs, especially during the pandemic, Rey, a member of National Movement for Young Legislators, said.

“We are [intentionally selling] our labor because the state that should be protecting us failed to assume its expected role,” he said.

“Trolling in a general sense is simply a manifestation of a weak state.”

Aguja said trolls are people who have been “alienated” and that those who control them should be held accountable as many believe the false information they spread.

“I get engaged with some of the trolls, they tell their story, and as Rey said, most of them just treat it just as a job, but there are some who really believe what they are saying,” Aguja said.

“We should not bash the trolls, but those who are behind and controlling the trolls, or else you are missing the point,” he added.

The webinar was organized by the MakaSOSYO: Makabuluhang Sosyolohiya University of Santo Tomas BA Sociology Students of Batch 2023. F

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