The “misrepresentation” controversy (I’m not linking, I’m sure you know how to do your research) making its rounds in certain blogging circles belies dangerous and false notions that many Filipinos seem to have about blogging.
1. “Pinoy blogosphere” – This concept is problematic but to explore this question, we need to discuss a little social science.
Discussion regarding the nature of a nation tend to get tricky. In most social science classes, however, we go by the formulation “groups of people with a shared language, experience, and culture are nations”. Although technically, the Philippines does not really satisfy all these conditions, our shared historical experience has been enough to bring us together. As a result, the project of nation-building has been extremely hard (think conflict in Mindanao and the sad state of our society in general). Nevertheless, we are able to carry on because there are institutions which help in the effort: the state, school, the family, media, civil society. Their confluence helps us imagine ourselves into a cohesive community.
However, the Internet is different. It is not chopped up into regions and countries. There are no boundaries. There are no laws to be followed beyond those of ethics and conscience. In addition, the Internet allows people to share a culture that is transgeographic. Whereas before, culture is naturally tied to the land, here people from different places can share the same culture. Online, there is no need for a national (that is, country-centric) community. Instead, communities are formed around shared interests and interpersonal relationships.
In this context, is it appropriate to brand the body of blogs authored by Filipinos as the “Pinoy Blogosphere”? The only thing a Filipino’s blog will have in common with all other Filipino’s blogs is that they are both written by Filipinos. This is obviously a very tenuous bond if we consider that nationality has very little relevance online. We can insist on painting all these blogs as being one whole community but that will never be the case. Proof enough is the fact that of all the blogs authored by Filipinos only a small percentage reach out to each other. More proof is the misrepresentation controversy, with people slinging ad hominems everywhere and cries of “down with the elite” suddenly ringing out – all of which indicate that there never was a bond among these people – or if there was, it was wrongly imagined.
This is getting a bit too much for me (and probably you too) to digest right now so I’ll leave the idea here and continue with the implications in a follow-up post.