The shallow and the elitist

published 28 September 2015

25.6 million tweets.
A record was set over the weekend. A love team created by a popular noontime show has zoomed to phenomenal popularity that has surprised both traditional and social media.
The boy is one of the many fresh faces in show business; the girl became famous for posting Dubsmash (another Internet fad a while back) videos of herself. And on Saturday, fans responded to the call to have 20 million tweets. There were photos of individuals and groups doing that distinct wave.
But after the tweets had been counted, and the show had taken a break for the rest of the weekend, commentaries surfaced. They occasioned feelings that were hardly romantic. In fact, they were acrimonious, condescending, some downright mean.
While AlDub had millions of followers here and abroad, many refused to join the bandwagon. Some of them were loyalists of the rival network. Most believe there were more important things to get worked up on.
There are plenty of national issues, indeed. Take your pick—elections and the dearth of acceptable candidates, the unconscionable income gap, climate change, human rights violations, disaster risk reduction, traffic and public transport, peace and order, the sorry state of some of our schools in remote provinces. Often, we cannot even muster enough critical mass to get our authorities to do their jobs. We get angry over an evening of being stuck in traffic, and then we forget about it the next day such that our officials have learned only to weather the storm instead of actually effecting solutions.
Those who tweeted were accused of having nothing better to do than await the contrived love affair between two pop-culture creations. They are so governed by their feelings that they cannot talk about anything else, much less realize that their energies are better channeled to worthier, more consequential pursuits.
To this, I invoke today’s language for the adage “Live and let live”: Walang basagan ng trip. AlDub is not intellectual, it’s not high brow, but it’s not being imposed on us, either. That gives us no excuse to look down on others’ indulgences, much less call them shallow.
It does not follow, too, that those who obsess over such trends have a diminished capacity for appreciating other things. As a commenter on Facebook said, the two are not mutually exclusive. One can still get caught up in a rich-boy-poor-girl romance and follow it with a passion as one would follow the weighty national issues of the day. It is elitist and simplistic to dismiss these fans as shallow, jologs, one-dimensional.
Because they may not be.
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But 25.6 million tweets? Seriously?
That’s a rather significant statement by any measure. It’s people power, albeit of a different form and a different cause. It goes to show that Filipinos can be rallied for a cause if they feel so strongly about it, if they can identify with it. And remember this is only for those who have access to the Internet. Many more of our compatriots are offline. How about tapping that, too? That would be a real, thundering shoutout if it comes to pass.
And now that we’ve shown once again that we can be galvanized by a compelling reason, why don’t we start taking it to other pursuits that affect our life as a nation?  We can watch a historical film, for instance. Or insist we want to hear our candidates debate on national issues instead of polishing the package that is their personality. We can call for the ouster of non-performing or corrupt officials or gather support for a law that would benefit us all.
So are you shallow or elitist? The good news is, you don’t have to be either.