‘It’s outrageous’

THERE should be a smartphone application or computer program, called “Outrageous.”

You first enter the person, place, event or issue that has you upset. Everyone has a right to be agitated, depressed, furious, indignant, irate, offended and even outraged at one time or another. But we need to clearly identify the focus of our concern.

Next, on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest, we input the degree of our “outrage.” Are we just a little “annoyed” or are we on a “Godzilla destroys Tokyo” kind of anger? Finally, since in this day and age, opinions are eventually spread to the deepest corner of the Internet universe, again 1 to 5, how important is our outrage about our concern in the bigger picture?

The problem is that too many matters from too many people are characterized as being so important as to determine the future and fate of the human race. If a topic is that important, then, of course, it deserves a “5” on the Outrage scale. Can we really say, with all honesty, that so much of what we see on the physical and digital “front page” is deserving of “5/5” Outrage?

Recently, the front page has included the “Mocha Uson award,” the “James Deakin picture,” and the “Isabelle Duterte party.” If you are fortunate enough not to fully understand how these fit into a discussion of Outrage, you are probably a better person for that fact. But an Internet search of each of these will result in a 100 or more news references. Based on that, these may be defining issues of our time—or at least for the past week or so.

Usually misattributed to Joseph Stalin is the idea that “a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths, a statistic.” The concept is that, we can wrap our emotional and intellectual heads around the death of one person, but millions is beyond our capacity to understand. However, there is another aspect. It is easy to possibly prevent, help avoid in the future, or find justice for the death of one person. To consider doing that for millions would require commitment and hard work, both of which is often to be avoided at all costs.

Granted a “5/5” is warranted by some concerns and immediately comes to mind the death by hazing that never seems to go away. Government discussions about a change in the form of government deserve great attention and serious public engagement, even if “outrage” is, perhaps, too strong an emotion.

Yet, when thousands of our fellow Filipinos in Albay are living in day-to-day fear and miserable conditions having been uprooted from their homes, where is the priority?

A few days ago, Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson made a mistake and said Mount Mayon is in Naga, instead of Albay. She apologized and corrected her mistake. But in the next 24 hours, nearly 30,000 tweets were posted on Twitter about her error. To illustrate what we are talking about, if each of those tweets had been accompanied by a P50 donation to the Philippine Red Cross, we would have raised P1.5 million for those affected by Mount Mayon’s eruption.

But talk is easy about a relatively unimportant concern—in comparison to a critical issue that actually affects people’s lives—and cheaper than putting actual cash on the table. That we see this happening with more and more frequency should truly be a reason for our outrage.


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