How to Surf and Navigate the Netwaters Safely and Truthfully These Days


Let me share this most timely advise to netizens as we launch this online Corps Magazine. While we encourage you to like our pages and visit us more often, we admonish you to be more discerning and smart as you surf the rest of the web.

netwatersI frequently see friends share posts that are obviously not true. I warn them in the nicest way I can but they probably wonder how the hell did I know. I wished people to be more discerning and to think critically. These are necessary skills in this age of fake news, trolls and spins. We need these skills in the light of information reaching us through the Internet, newspapers and magazines. We have to determine facts from fiction and gain more control over the reality we’re forming for ourselves. We have to break free from the so-called “filter bubble” – the phenomenon whereby social media and search engines show us similar contents to what we regularly engage in. This results to us seeing only information that fits our preexisting perspective. We easily unfriend or un-follow friends who do not share our own biases. The result is that we’re not exposed to ideas that challenge our worldview. We end up with friends that share and like things we like and share. Fortunately, there is no dislike button for we would probably dislike the same things they would. Most people will believe a lot of things that are thrown at them without questioning especially if they are somehow aligned to their own biases and preferences.

Why are we like that? Millenials who grew up in the Internet age tend to be like this but chances are, if you are our Corps Mag market, you are more of a Gen-X – but feeling millennial only. Millenials find it easy to know things via search engines. They ask almost any question to Mr Google and he dutifully replies with all available answers there are on the Internet regardless whether true or not. They passed research works sourced from Wikipedia. But don’t you know that anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles? Users contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity. If you happen to read these articles before they are even vetted by others who are more knowledgeable, then you are in for a ride.

Take FaceBook. It has been six months already since the election but we are still deeply engrossed in political discussions. Everything that happens in our country is discussed with passion. Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) almost always find all dissents and complaints as coming from the Yellowtards – even if it does not make sense to connect everything to that jaundiced army. Both sides believe both employ trolls. It is usually likely that if you say something against the LP or DU30, chances are you will receive tons and tons of comments railing against you.

trollA troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional joust. Engaging a troll is a useless exercise. They are faceless and nameless that it is not worth discussing with anyone who hide their real identity. And if you find a troll, the best you can do is to ignore him. Just like a terrorist, do not give them the emotional high of having affected you. Carry on with your life or in the case of the social media, your train of thought without even mentioning his comment. Answer the other comments while totally ignoring him. After a while, delete his. Let him stay just long enough for him to see how he was ignored.

Trolls use or refer to fake sites to dish out information that looks legit. To know if it’s fake, check if the URL is different from its name. It is a good indication that the site is fake and you should NOT believe nor re-share it. They can easily create websites that have the same look and feel as mainstream media. If you see that their website address instead of the short addresses like cnn.com, nbc.com or philstar.com, ends in wordpress.com or bloggers.com or any of the free bloggers sites, then it is just a hastily made site which did not even bother having their own domain names. I just came across this fake news site with name that is just too cunningly scheming. Its address appears like inquirer.net but on closer look, their URL is actually net.inquirer.com. They seem not to mind wasting money on domain names they buy so long as they have already sowed discontent and fake news which they have been paid to do.

Satire sites are another one of those hard to get a handle with. Not everyone knows what satire is. They actually enjoy reading satires because the contents feed exactly their hidden desire for something to happen. Remember the news articles about Bong Revilla and Jinggoy? Many enjoyed it but they all got burned. They were from the famous satire site So What’s News. Satire sites used to be easy to spot because they are honest enough to clearly state so in their Home page or About Us page. Nowadays, you have to be good in checking if they are. For dummies, I found this site that tells you if it’s real or a hoax. Just go to http://realorsatire.com, paste the site address and see. But to know if an article is satire just by reading its contents is a high level skill. You got to be familiar with the subject being discussed and if you know that it has not happened yet or is the opposite of what you knew as the truth, or it narrates something too good to be true, then chances are it is satire.

Of course our site is committed to telling the truth or if it is an opinion article then it is as it is – truth in the eyes and mind of the author. Read them for the sake of having an idea of what the author is thinking. And you might just pick up a nugget of wisdom, a familiar event that you could easily relate to having gone through the same story or adventure before, a nice line that you can quote or frame or simply find a passage that validates what you thought as true.

So what do you do? Try to live a life based on informed decisions. Have the essential skill to determine the truth and what is propaganda. Have an open mind by reading on an issue from all possible angles or points of view. Research correctly. Weigh their arguments well. If you fall for the Filter effect and keep friends that only say amen or like all that you post, chances are you are having that blinder. Keep some cerebral friends. Keep a few know-it-all – but be wary of course. We Filipinos may be the most prolific on the Internet and on FaceBook but unfortunately; we are not seen as really Internet savvy. Advertisers do not pay high if the traffic your site generates is from the Philippines. These advertisers must have observed that we do not buy much. They probably think we are mostly from Tanauan – just fond of patanaw-tanaw or window shopping – but not buying. Their new meaning for our being a Pilipino is one who– Pili nang pili pero pag iki-click na ang “Add to cart” no naman ng no.

Anyway, it is 2017! Happy Surfing and May you be free from fake sites, scammers and trolls. Bring back the good friends and relatives who just happened to have not voted for your candidates and which you have unfollowed or removed.

Happy New Year!

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About Harlie

I got to be true to myself so I got to do what I have to do.
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