Finding peace in 2020

Let us never forget to thank 2020 because it “enabled us to reach today! Without the stairs of the past, we cannot arrive at the future!” 

 

Note: This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on December 29, 2020.

 

We have to close 2020 with peace in our hearts. This may not be easy, may not be needed or may not be wanted, but we have to find in ourselves the time to pause and be thankful for the blessings, limited as these may seem, of 2020.

The words that welcomed us by the first quarter were “social distancing” (now more effective as “physical distancing”), “quarantine,” “face masks and shields” and “relearning how to wash hands,” a skill we learned in kindergarten. We also learned to listen more to teh government for what it was saying and was not saying. Trust became very important because our lives became even more dependent on what the government would and wouldl not do. But part of communication is the age-old, sender-and-receiver protocols, and with all the noise, it became very hard for the national government to effectively address the pandemic until the the whole information infrastructure of the national government got its act together to do the briefings led by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and the doctor/experts helping out the government at the start of the pandemic. Risk management is very important, and this includes risk communication.

This is the first year in our collective life where 2020 was fast or slow depending on where we were last March 2020. It was fast because things were moving without us doing so, and the externalities shocked us as to have doubts on how we will proceed, individually, as a family, as a community and as a nation. It was slow because all of us were tied down to our homes, halting almost everything we were used to doing. Time was something we were bargaining for, and when we got it, we started valuing what mattered most.

We saw deaths, bearing closer to home. We heard about health workers standing tall amid the unknown and in the unfamiliar terrain. We saw local leaders picking up the ball; not knowing whom to pass it to, but continuing even while they were never trained to handle an unknown enemy. Leaders needed to be creative, to think outside the box and to first deal with their constituents, showing a lot more empathy and understanding than ordering people around and gaming the system.

For those who used to travel an average of 10 flights a year, it was a total shock not to attend conferences, take a vacation, close business deals and roam a lot more. But as borders closed, we began appreciating the beauty of places we had been quite used to visiting. We valued our photo albums more and found time to do an inventory of places we had not yet visited and enjoyed. Video conferencing apps became the platform that made the outside places of the world closer. Everything was just a click away, and this future shock has now become the present of things.

As the year ends, we are reminded of the Irish saying that goes, “May you have the hindsight to know where you have been, the foresight to know where you are going and the insight to know when you have gone too far.” And that includes the way we deal with each other and the seemingly circuitous fashion of insulting one another just because one holds a different view. Social media is supposed to be a way to build communities, a “collective term for websites and applications, which focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation and wikis are among the different types of social media.”

With its usage explosion, the number of people using social media in 2020 is “over 3.81 billion worldwide with the average user having 8.6 accounts on different networking sites.

Popular platforms [such as] Facebook have over 66.39 percent of [its] monthly users logging in to use social media daily. All social networks report growth data on the number of monthly active users or MAUs rather than the number of accounts as this data is more accurate for measuring actual use and territory penetration.”

In 2020, there are “3.81 billion people actively using social media in the world, and this is an increase of 9.2 percent year-on-year from 3.48 billion in 2019. Back in 2015, there were only 2.07 billion users; social network growth rates since then have averaged 12.5 percent year-on-year.” And because of such an explosion, we have been subjected to misinformation, disinformation and mal-information, and it will not stop until we are able to decide that free speech is not equivalent to the algorithm as determined by the provider of a free service.

With hopes high to meet 2021, let us never forget to thank 2020 because it “enabled us to reach today! Without the stairs of the past, we cannot arrive at the future!” Let us be thankful for what we have and not for what we lack. Peace to all!

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About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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