Notes & Essays

What We Can All Learn From Kris Aquino’s Social Media Meltdown

Mainly, the folly of needlessly pulling politics into a personal argument.
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We’ve looked up to Kris Aquino for the genius of her social media influence. She has, until recently, wielded it with a unique and consistent brand of candor that makes her relatable to her audiences and effective to her endorsements.

But we all make mistakes—some more frequent and more public than others—and that very same candor landed Kris in a tough spot recently.

To cut a long story short: Her ex-husband James Yap greeted Bimb, their son, a happy birthday on Instagram. Kris felt that the greeting was a disingenuous jab at her, so she lashed out and aired some dirty laundry (washed using Ariel Antibac with The Power of Safeguard, of course!).

Things got mildly political in this first rant, when she suggested that Yap no longer spends time with Bimb because his uncle—her brother, Benigno Aquino III—is no longer president. Days later, Yap was featured in Rated K by Korina Sanchez. Kris again took the feature as an affront, so she published another Instagram post: An image of herself with President Rodrigo Duterte, with a caption that referred to Korina as “misis ni Mar Roxas.” She also gave her caption a controversial mic-drop ending: “...klarong klaro sa kin kung bakit ang nanalong Pangulo ay si DUTERTE.” Hours later, she issued an adequate apology. The whole thing was its own weeklong drama that took more than a fair share of public attention.

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But there’s more to be taken away from this saga than just Kris Aquino’s #WarriorMom tiger-parenting. If you’d step back and consider how she lost her composure, you’d see one of the fundamental mistakes that creates a hateful environment on social media: the very common tendency to pull partisan politics into the fray, even in squabbles that don’t directly involve them.

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It’s when we weaponize politics for personal battles that we cross the line between progress-oriented discourse and empty disparagement.

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Kris herself admitted as much in her apology: She really shouldn’t have dragged those three political relations into a domestic argument—even and especially in the view of the public-at-large. She even acknowledged that she’s been a victim of that very same mistake herself. In her blind rage, she couldn’t help but reach for the politics. But in this case (and so frequently online), politics is unrelated and doesn’t contribute anything to the discussion. It serves only to shame.

Which is not to say that politics should be taboo. Many people make the converse mistake of compartmentalizing politics, and failing to acknowledge that everything and everyone is necessarily and inherently political. Politics certainly affects us all, and should concern us all, whether we realize it or not. We should be free to discuss political matters and make genuine political stands in the appropriate occasions, and in appropriate ways.

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But it’s when we weaponize politics for personal battles that we cross the line between progress-oriented discourse and empty disparagement.

You don’t like what he said about your shoes? That’s okay, he’s a Dutertard anyway.

Is she unable to control her brat of a child? Ganyan talaga pag dilawan.

Has she totally forgotten about the money you loaned her? She’s a Marcos loyalist, remember?

Did he spoil Avengers: Infinity War for you? NASAAN ANG YOLANDA FUNDS?

Everyday discussions become toxic when we take part in this sort of aggression. (I myself am guilty of saying that Panerai Luminors are for pro-Duterte titos.) Shallow jabs are inimical to the discussion of politics in ways that actually matter, and Kris Aquino’s recent episode should serve to remind us all of that.

So when faced with the knee-jerk urge to make a political comment, it’s better to first ask: Will this really contribute anything to the discussion? If you can’t answer that with an emphatic yes, then you should either get back on track, or just shut up.

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