Thursday, September 1, 2011

Indirect Treason

Has the development of information communications technology killed nationalism? Well, I think it’s killed forms of it, but not entirely. I used to remember times when “imported” stuff was so hard to come by. I think it was even a status symbol when you had Chips Ahoy! cookies or Hershey’s chocolates in stock at home. And, of course, apparel with conspicuous (but not in a way that was too loud) trademarks of American brands brought a certain level of prestige to the wearer. But, even with the aspirational characteristics of these imported items, there was always a sense of dishonor attached to them. This resulted from repeatedly being told that the desire to acquire imported goods were remnants of our colonial mentality. We wanted to acquire these goods because they were made by our colonial masters or so the argument went. So we should refrain from purchasing imported goods and patronize Filipino products to show our nationalism.

But those days when imported products were a rarity are long gone. Most imported items are already available at any grocery or mall (but I still have a hard time looking for Marshmallow Fluff, Hostess’ Ding Dongs, and a few other faves)! Undeniably, these have mostly been made possible by developments in techonology, not the least of which is information communications. The world has become one big marketplace and products have become available worldwide. And, surprisingly, with the availability of imported goods, all that talk about equating eating an imported cookie with an act of treason has also died down. That colonial-mentality-guilt that used to be attached to consuming imported products became a thing of the past. People are no longer made to feel guilty about eating Doritos over Mr. Chips, or for wearing Gap over Penshoppe, or watching Modern Family over My Binondo Girl. I guess it could be said that information communications technology killed nationalism, in this sense of patronizing our own goods.

Or it could also be argued that this present state of things only makes sense. And the teachings of nationalism in the past were flawed arguments so it is only proper that death has been brought to certain types of nationalism. It could be said that, in the first place, the marketplace is no place for nationalism, where consumerism should prevail. Consumers shouldn’t be forced to buy products simply because they are sourced locally. The test of purchasing a product should always be value, whether they be local or imported. But I could also just be a product of my own time, where, indeed, no inherent nationalistic value is ascribed to patronizing Filipino goods.

In any case, I don’t think ICT has killed nationalism. At the most, I think it only highlighted the tendencies of people to be nationalistic or otherwise. For example, those who tend to not be nationalistic choose to exploit these technological developments to access imported goods or watch foreign TV shows. On the other hand, those who do tend to be nationalistic exploit this technology to access local goods or watch local shows while abroad (especially for the case of those temporarily working abroad). So the most that ICT has done is give us a choice. And, if nationalism dies as a result, we only have ourselves to blame for choosing its death.

Aldous Benjamin Camiso, Blog Entry #11.

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