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THERE’S A CAKE! YOU ARE INVITED TO THE PARTY

If someone invites you to a party and offers you a free cake, would you take it?

Words can be stronger than weapons. A single word could either start or end a war. It could tarnish a country to fight against its neighbors. It could bring peace to a nation drowning in conflict. Words, when thrown out loosely, could lead to insurmountable confusion and suffering. In this digital age, do the things we share in public contribute more towards clarity or confusion? The internet is written in ink, not in pencil. The things we say will exist forever. Are we being mindful of what we put out? If not, are we doing anything about it?

How we answer the questions raised will always link to our conscience and values. We live in a time where fake news, disinformation, and misinformation are becoming like a disease that latches on anyone who always misses the attention bus. These things thrive out of our ignorance and lack of due diligence. They only need us to utter the words for them to spread like wildfire.

What’s the cake?

We live in a country that values freedom of expression, so much so that we developed the call-out and cancel culture. From ordinary people to people of influence, position, and power, we all share the same cake in this feast of edgy takes and intellectual discourse. Millennials, Gen Zs, Boomers I and II; we are all in and for it. All we need is just a couple of “he said, she said” in a grapevine network, then it becomes so easy and tempting to dig in and take a bite without actually knowing what we’re taking in. If it turns out to be poisoned, well, we’re all going to go down with it, then.  

In case you missed it, the cake is a metaphor for the things presented to us—no context, no nothing. Just the sheer idea that we can eat it. We, the listeners, readers, and onlookers are just waiting for someone to say there is no poison in it for us to dig in and taste it. But of course, this is not always accurate. This is how misinformation and disinformation get passed on. Many people would pass on information without knowing whether it’s factual or not. Whichever platform you are in, this trend flourishes out of people’s lack of regard for facts. Then we start to share our thoughts. We simply want to comment on everything because why not? We all want to be heard. But can we have our cake and eat it too?

Take a bite. They say it’s all right.

We all share the same desire to be heard when we take part in something. We want people to understand and value the words we utter because this is supposedly our way of connecting to reality. But two things come into play: when speaking becomes excessive, and when we speak of things we do not validate or fact check, we start to create noise that often polarizes discussions. This is the part where our drive to speak contributes more confusion than clarity.

When we put our thoughts out in public, we sometimes fail to remember that the freedom to speak up is always accompanied by responsibility and accountability. We need to be responsible for ensuring that we only speak of factual things. When we get corrected, or when people point out the problem with our statement, we are accountable for ensuring we straighten our facts.

We live in a time of two pandemics: The COVID-19 pandemic and the “pandemic” of disinformation. You are entitled to join the party, but before you have your slice of free cake; do yourself a favor, and don’t get poisoned. Taking a free cake without knowing what’s in it is synonymous with taking in information without checking the veracity of its claims. Often, it intends to do you, and others, harm. Take care out there. Many will offer you free cake. Remember, if it’s free, it may mean you are the product. Don’t fall for it. Stay informed. Always get your facts straight.

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