#NBAPh: What is it for, really?

I wonder what sort of protection the #NBAPh will add to what bloggers (& non-bloggers) already enjoy as enshrined in the Constitution. Are they set to provide pro bono lawyers for members in cases of say, libel suits? Will they be able to impose disciplinary actions against erring bloggers and up to what extent? How about non-members, rogue ones? Will there be strict requirements for joining, like banning those known to have ethical issues in the past? Or will it just be another way of getting free pass on exclusive media/political events? Will there be mentoring? And in the case of issuing statements/stand on issues that concern blogging, it appears that members of the minority will automatically relinquish their voices in favor of the majority.

I love organizations. I love forming groups — organizing people to meet a common cause. But the purpose of such an organization has to be clear-cut from the get-go. The idea of “build it and they will come” sounds plausible — and it is. It even appears to be the right thing to do.

But let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves this — why the need for mobilization? Why organize?

It’s easy to group people together, urge them to march somewhere, but I dare ask, where to? What for?

*In the case of protection

They say we bloggers need to protect ourselves from people who are out to get us — to sue us, to strip us of our right to free speech — to blogging freely, hence we must form a group.

But I say, who are these people? Where are they? Are they an irrational bunch of onion-skinned celebrities/politicians/average Juans? I don’t think so.

I asked you to step back awhile and I hope you’re still where I left you because the view from afar is enlightening. Ironically, the nearer you are to the picture, the more obscured your view becomes. So if you’re still there, read on.

If you’re a fellow blogger, you know these people “out to get us” (meaning bloggers in particular) do not exist. The people likely to sue us for uttering anything slanderous offline are the same ones likely to sue us for libel online.

It is not the medium. It is the person using it — irresponsibly, destructively.

So in the case of bloggers, the single protection we need now is from “ourselves” — from that borderline disregard for the fact that whatever we publish online is open to scrutiny — legal or otherwise. We need to protect ourselves from that evil monster of self-importance and “I-can-write-whatever-the-hell-I-want-and-not-be-liable-for-it” attitude. What this blogosphere fails to discuss is this elephant in the room — that overblown ego inflated by the ability to self-publish about anything and anyone, anytime and anywhere.

If we’re able to police our ranks and practice self-regulation, such “protection” would not be necessary.

*On the issue of representation

This one’s debatable. But I’m inclined to guard my stand on issues that matter to me, heck that’s why I even blog in the first place — because I don’t want my “small voice” to get drowned in the noisy crowd. Here on my blog is where I could say what I want without anyone interrupting me or telling me my stand belongs to the “minority” and thereby won’t be adapted when the association issues statements on such issues.

Come to think of it, if that’s what I wanted, I would not have cared to put up my blog — I would’ve contented myself to lurking in forums where my posts are moderated.

In my humble and insignificant opinion, if a National Bloggers Association of the Philippines would be created, it has to be one that supports and sustains bloggers to thrive and not stifle whatever benefits they enjoy which is already inherent to blogging. A bloggers association must be one that cultivates growth in the blogosphere and not inadvertently sow division by  getting a “majority sentiment” on issues.

If a national bloggers association should exist, it must be one that celebrates the diversity of opinions and personality of its members by not forcing its members to routinely vote on issues just so they can come up with a “statement”.

Bloggers are highly opinionated people who will fight for what they believe is right. Put them in one room to get a sense of “majority atmosphere” and it will not be easy shutting them up.

Bottomline, surrendering one’s opinion to the “majority whim” isn’t the easiest thing to do if such will be required to gain membership.

*On the issue of mobilization

Going back to the idea of herding bloggers to march (literally or figuratively) somewhere, it behooves us to question its intent and purpose. There is enough evil in the world and enough groups of people trying to identify themselves with a certain label that sometimes we overlook the fact that the last thing we need is another group of revolutionary or influential set of people to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.

And I guess, bloggers are too smart to know this already — which is probably why many of us don’t feel the need to blog frantically about every issue that comes along. In the same way other people “choose their battles”, we bloggers “choose our posts”.

And truth be told, as much as there are probably millions of blogs around, very few of them are actually in it to “change the world” or protect their rights. Many of them are contented with the fact that they can broadcast their thoughts to the world and couldn’t care less if the world ends today.

*What would a National Bloggers Association be good for then?

1. To create a directory of bloggers in the Philippines

2. To organize “Help A Blogger” events

3. To promote social good (this is where mobilization should come in)

4. To organize charity events sponsored by blogs and advertisers

5. To draft a Code of Ethics for Bloggers

6. To strengthen/promote self-regulation thru seminars, etc

7. To aim for government recognition through equal, not special rights

8. To bring decency/ethics to paid blogging by transparency

9. To expose options more than influence them

10. To reward authenticity and crush online deceit

*Just so you know…

I have nothing against the organizers/creators of this group. They have my respect and they have all the right to create one as they please, just like everyone else. But I’m happy where I am now — unbridled yet responsible, a small voice in a noisy crowd but heard once in a while nonetheless.

I’d love to be part of a bloggers association in the future but I find the draft manifesto not entirely agreeable at this moment. I was hoping to find one that’s directed outside the sphere and not inward, with the goal of making bloggers an instrument of social change, allowing bloggers to give to the community and not simply assert rights and recognition as “movers and influencers”. In short, to assume the role and not simply ascribe it to oneself. Until then, I’d be happily typing away, blogging alone.

This post is in no way discouraging any blogger from joining any club of their choice. Let’s enjoy the mutual respect that blogging teaches us. Hey, see you when I see you! — RJ

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