my Trade Tripper column in the 8-9 April 2016 issue of BusinessWorld:
Perhaps it was ever thus.
But it’s also possible that while the world may have always had the walking braindead around, at least they never -- from what I can glean from history -- been placed (or themselves presumed to be deserving of being placed) in a position to publicly speak out, teach, or govern.
I blame “my bad” for all this.
I hated that phrase the first time I heard it. Behind its seemingly harmless admission of fault is an assertion that the speaker should not be held accountable for his/her wrongdoings.
“My bad” would spawn in the Philippines idiocies like “nosebleed”, “pabebe”, “dami mo namang alam”, and the apparently presidential (who knew?) “eh di wow.” All designed to stop any further thought on anything.
For what purpose? To free up more time for people to stuff themselves with food? And post selfies on Instagram?
David Hopkins (in his March 22 Medium article) accuses the TV show Friends for people’s dumbification. I agree. Except on the fact that it was not only Ross but also Chandler that was the victim of his friends’ (specially Rachel’s) idiocies.
Remember: Chandler was a smart, quick-witted, well read, up and coming corporate executive. Then he burned out and in that state (to many a glee) married Monica (who -- quite typically -- at their own wedding, was only self-centeredly concerned that nobody steal her “thunder”).
But it was the Ross-Rachel thing that exemplified everything that’s wrong with Friends. And the world today.
In particular, that incredibly stupid and drawn out “we were on a break!” shtick.
As usual, Rachel would get her way (Ross, in the end, after all, marries her). But what was particularly galling about the “we were on a break!” thing was that it was Rachel who demanded the break, making Ross reasonably justified in taking her word.
But logic is so uncool.
Rachel dictated and the world followed, thus from now on: words mean nothing, reason is worthless, emotions and not facts matter.
What’s important (and what reality is) is what “I”, at a specific moment that “I” alone decide, would be feeling.
Oh, and by the way, you must psychically know in advance what it is “I” may feel.
Utterly. Insanely. Moronic.
If that’s the case, then why bother having schools? What is learning for? Why the need to self-improve? To look good in selfies?
And the world has been “Rachelfied”, particularly politics: in the US, Donald Trump would infinitely vulgarly confusedly reverse himself yet his supporters wouldn’t care. Why? Because they’re upset!
In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte can actually outdo Trump in flipflopping incoherence (i.e., won’t run/ran; extrajudicial measures against criminals/rule of law, etc.). That was blithely justified as merely a mark of his being “makatotoo.”
Grace Poe under oath rejected Philippine citizenship. No problem! Why? Because she’ll continue her father’s legacy. Which is what, exactly?
Yet, the whole thing is just the logical extension of the past six years.
If it’s true that “we vote who we are,” then who we are is a shuffling, chain-smoking, self-indulgent, intellectually incurious, academically mediocre, professional nobody, propped up by rich parents.
However, that again doesn’t matter. Because it’s Daang Matuwid!
In a world where a Justine Trudeau, Barack Obama, Shinzo Abe, Lee Hsien Loong, David Cameron, Xi Jinping leads, who do we have to show?
It’s as if in 2010 the people who can’t read serious books without going comatose or can only uncomprehendingly hear “bwa bwa bwa” from their math teacher suddenly decided it’s their time now, rose up, and collectively roared (Sparta-300 style): “Sampalan na lang ng payslip!”
It’s not only Friends and media to blame. Academics too.
Borrowing from Lee: there are some, against all common sense, who just “argue the contrary for the purpose of getting (or reminding people they have) a PhD.”
And the lunacy spouted nowadays by those who should know better is unbelievable.
Bruce Cole, for Public Discourse (February 2016), gives an example of progressive professorial gibberish: “See the new scholar subject as a performative of passionate singularity, hybrid materiality and networked relationality. This is one sense in which the humanities scholar that is becoming is possibly posthuman, and a posthumanist scholar.”
But, I still hope.
Thus encourage the young to read more.
More importantly, to actually understand what they read. And even more importantly, to act consistently with what they’ve thought of after reading.
Don’t bother wasting time reading to impress in cocktail parties. Anyone being impressed with you there is likely pretentious or shallow.
Learn for learning’s sake.
And while Hopkins and myself can’t prove the connection: people should really buy less.
Consumerism makes people more stupid. I encourage the youth to do more with less, be proud of less, to not have their identity equated with gadgets, clothes or cars. Learn self-control and value delayed gratification.
And remember: you’re special only if you achieved something special.
And above all: think!