The above image of a CNN comment has gone viral. At this writing, it has been liked by 12,555 users, shared by 3,768. And that’s just the version shared by Gloc-9. There are surely other versions going around, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that by the end of the day, the post will have been viewed by millions.
I’m sure that many will be uplifted by such an image, and when tragedies like Haiyan happen, people will use anything as a source of inspiration. But that can be a problem. Especially when the source is not completely true.
Most of the people who will see the inspirational image will take it out of context. Because in most cases, it is presented without any. The average social media user will see it and think, “CNN, one of the most prestigious news organizations in the world, thinks Filipinos are special. Cool.”
But CNN didn’t praise Filipinos in this way. We have a commenter named “dudesk001” to thank for that:
Suddenly the statement becomes a lot less noteworthy. If the comment from the CNN article were shared this way, the image would probably be less popular — especially without the CNN logo prominently displayed.
This misattribution may be harmless, but it is still wrong in principle. Imagine if a racist comment in the same thread were shared in the same way, making it seem that CNN was critical of Filipinos. The post would also go viral, but in this instance, more would point out this important detail: CNN said no such thing; it was just some random commenter.
I also find it interesting how the comment was revised before it was shared on social media. The original comment went, “Filipinos will just shake off the dirt from their clothes and thongs and go about their business.” In the sanitized version, there were no thongs.
Another detail that deserves more attention is how the comment says that being hit by a supertyphoon is somehow a privilege. Given the mounting reports of damages and casualties, few would agree, and many would even think that such an idea was perverted.
Some users have criticized this detail as they commented on the image or shared it themselves, but I’m sure their sentiments won’t get as many likes or shares. In a time when many need heroes and hope, the one who pokes holes in positive things could be seen as the villain.
It’s images like this that deserve more likes and shares.