Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Ministry Of Truth Lives! And It Stinks!

The Web can be a cruel place. No other medium can be used to spread negative publicity with greater speed and facility. Whether you're a student caught in a car set afloat by a raging storm, or a reporter stammering through his report, trying his best to make a thoroughly boring report sound interesting, the moment your blunder is memorialized online it is permanent with no hope of retraction.

The latest victims of this phenomenon are the three now infamous DPWH engineers who had their images Photoshopped onto an image of the broken Roxas Boulevard sea wall, popularized in the so-called "DPWHERE?" meme (my fellow blogger Tonton Mina explains the meme in his own post so it's wise to also read his entry on the subject). I feel no sadness for the DPWH--they should have known better than to act like an Orwellian Ministry of Truth by trying to make it appear they were "on the scene" at Roxas Boulevard when they were not. The people I feel sorry for are the three engineers who have been immortalized in the internet as the omnipresent symbols of a DPWH who would want us to believe it is so "on the scene" with every contingency that they have even sent their men on the moon. These three men have become symbolic of a lie, whether they like it or not.

Sadly, that's how the Internet works. There's no point in trying to stem the tide of the ever growing and evolving meme. There is likewise no point in demanding that each and every person who's made a "DPWHERE?" picture recant on pain of sanction since it won't undo the damage anyway. Ultimately, to me, the fault lies with the DPWH for even considering the perpetration of this Big Brother-like maneuver. It's their fault they even considered trying to manipulate the truth--albeit sloppily. As a matter of policy, it's better to regulate government agencies' propensity to lie than the general public's propensity to criticize.

As for the poor engineers who now have to face the possible humiliation of being associated with this meme, what's done is done. It's been said that all publicity is good publicity depending on how one deals with it. If a beauty queen can gain a writing and showbiz career by mangling English in a "major major" way, then I'm sure they can likewise find some way to make this notoriety work for them. After all, it wasn't their fault their pictures became so infamous, and they'd be wise to play up this simple fact: they were victims too.

Miguel Tensuan
Entry 16

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