Monday, July 20, 2020

Why are my favorite influencers not taking a political stand?

I'm listening to songs from the 70s so I'm feeling pretty mellow while I blog today. So, nope, you're not going to see me say bad things in answer to the question in the title haha (well, let's see!)

Okay, so apparently my last post ("How I've been"), while not trying to be political in any way, was seen as political. A few readers sent me DMs thanking me for speaking up and "sana mas marami pang bloggers na tulad mo who make a stand." Well, I was really just talking about my health but, sure, everything's political so I won't disagree. 

Politics is a set of activities or strategies based on ideas or beliefs. So I'm Frances. I believe in truth, freedom, human rights, equal treatment, feminism, and God. So everything in my life - every decision I make - will be influenced and dictated by my beliefs. 

Do I like people who lie? No.
Do I think rape jokes are funny? No.
Will I support people who pass laws curtailing our rights? No.
Do I think it's okay for people to curse God? No.
Do I condemn people who speak up even if I don't agree with them? No. 

So for example, I think many people should shut up but because I believe in the fundamental human right to free speech, I respect their right to speak. Up to the line when that freedom becomes a crime, of course. These are my politics and I try very hard to stand on my beliefs. So, yeah, I hate to admit this, I sometimes think some people shouldn't be allowed to talk or vote, but I won't stop them from doing so because it is their right. Whether the issue is big or small (which is the harder one, you know?), I try very hard to live according to my beliefs because how can I make anyone trust me if I have no integrity?

I think everyone should write down what they believe in and have the integrity to align all that they say and do with their beliefs.

So influencers. Isn't it such a waste that they have this huge platform and they don't use it for politics?

Well, it's not as simple as that. Here are the reasons why your favorite influencers aren't making any political statements:

1. They have a contract not to say anything.

As a blogger, I get proposals from brands. But I always clarify this clause in my contract: "Blogger will not engage in any controversial activities that may affect her reputation or the brand." So I lay it out: "Hi, I like to speak my mind and comment on political issues, sometimes I say bad words, sometimes I talk about sex. Is this going to be a problem?" If they say it's going to be a problem, then no partnership.

I can do that because usually maliit lang naman ang proposed bayad haha But what if hundreds of thousands or even millions ang ibabayad sa iyo? Hirap to say no, diba? So I don't blame influencers who agree to that clause.

Am I saying my silence can be bought if the price is right? I'd like to think no. Like I said, I try to live with integrity. But if there's anything 2016 onwards showed me it's really very easy these days to have cognitive dissonance. 

2. They have to take care of their mental health.

Another thing 2016 onwards showed me? How hateful people can be. You want to know what hell is like? Just visit the comments section! Like I said, some people talaga shouldn't be allowed to say anything. But it's their right so what can we do?

Influencers have a very public profile. That's necessary for them to amass a following. So if they say anything people don't agree with, they invite hate. Many people can handle it. They're usually politicians (unless your name sounds like a drum "bong bong bong" LOL). You'd think that public figures like influencers would also be able to handle trolls but influencers live on social media (politicians don't) so they're exposed to the hate. There's no barrier, no cushion, no filter. That's going to do lots of bad things to your brain, your psyche, your health. 

Remember: Influencers are on social media for the fans, the likes, the love, and admiration. They will not do anything that will invite hate.

3. They don't understand real life.

I love this saying, "If you don't have a leg to stand on, you can't put your foot down." For anyone to have a firm conviction, they need to have thought about the issues first. You can't have an opinion if you don't have facts. At least, that's how it should be. So many people now have an opinion and they don't even have the facts or they deny the facts!

Many influencers just keep quiet because they really don't understand what's going on. Sometimes it's because they're in their lovely bubble. For example, why will they comment on hunger if busog sila? On jobless Pinoys if their one IG post is worth P200,000? 

Or maybe they're just not smart. They try to think about the issues but hindi kaya ng brain nila. So they won't say anything na lang. Is that wrong? I don't know. I think we should always inform ourselves but that's just me.

4. They're already helping in other ways.

Some influencers aren't very good with words. Kaya nga nag-Instagram sila kasi mas magaling sila sa mga picture-picture haha. Joking aside, many influencers are good at supporting causes on the down-low. They donate. They raise funds. They make silly videos na pa-daplis comment on the situation pero babaw lang, happy lang. So we don't know everything about a person's life so we shouldn't judge, right? Baka mas malaki pa naitulong nila kesa sa atin.

5. They don't care.

Yep. They just don't care! And you can't accept it because these are people you look up to. You think because you admire them, they're better than you and they reflect your ideals or represent your goals. And if they're not making a stand (or worse, they're making an evil stand), then what does that say about you?

Believe me, I've been crushed by disappointment these past few years. It spans from the near and dear to public personas. People I looked up to for being devoted to the God of love, truth, and life supported a presidential candidate who spewed hate, lies, and death. A politician I admired for her gentleness voted for defunding of the Commission on Human Rights and pushed for the Anti-Terror Law. Doesn't anyone have integrity anymore?

So you see, just because influencers have tons of admirers doesn't mean they're perfect or that they represent who you are. We can't demand for them to make statements because what if they're contractually obligated to not say anything? What if they don't want the attacks that come with making a stand? What if they aren't really smart enough to understand the issues? What if they're really just evil?

My husband likes to tell me about the movie, The Remains of the Day. It's the story of a butler, James Stevens, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who is devoted to his master, Lord Darlington. He serves him because he thinks his Lord is better than him. In the end, he finds out his master is a Nazi sympathizer and that destroys him. James says, "[Lord Darlington] chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship's wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can't even say I made my own mistakes. Really - one has to ask oneself - what dignity is there in that?”

My politics dictate that I believe in freedom of choice. If influencers (or people you love) don't want to say anything, let's respect their decision. The way I see it, people who want others to speak up should be the ones doing the speaking up. Let's be the one to think and speak out. Let's all do what WE can to change the world for the better. Maybe we'd inspire others to do the same.

P.S. Oh wow, this blog post got quoted a lot in The Manila Times!

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