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Double standard for Koko

The Internet is robust but pockets of outage can and will happen due to infrastructure issues or too great a bandwidth demand.

John Henry Dodson

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To TikTok or not? Bet that’s the burning question you’ve been asking yourself daily, a third of the way-or-so into the month-long lockdown imposed by the government to stem the spread of the killer coronavirus disease in Luzon.

Admit it. There’s no shame in giving in to the call of the “TikTok dark side,” which has already enticed millions of people worldwide. You’ve already downloaded the app that’s now more popular than Facebook, yes?

So, why not do it? Have fun if that would stop you from staring at your house’s too-familiar walls or your FB wall now littered with bits and pieces of fake news and doomsday scenarios.

Chill and do video calls with friends and distant relatives if that is what’s needed to make you keep your sanity. If you are depressed and you need someone to talk with, call the Manila Lifeline Centre at 896-9191 and 0917-8549191; or any of the helplines out there. Just Google them.

While there’s a global four percent chance of dying for those afflicted with COVID-19, there’s also the added stresses of being jailed right at home and feeling like the characters out of Netflix’s “Money Heist,” sans the money and with only the “hays!”

So, if TikTok is too pedestrian for you as a way to beat boredom, we can do socially relevant memes.

Something like that, “Walang kilong bigas, walang latang sardinas and walang wala” relief goods satire that is so funny it’s a tearjerker. Or that ghostly white van kidnapping those do-nothing barangay captains who, we wish, would stay dead and buried and not haunt us again come election time.

Nonetheless, it’s one thing to be missing-in-action like those barangay captains. It’s another to be a senator like Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and be accused of breaking quarantine protocol by the Makati Medical Center and the S&R Membership Shopping chain.

The first is a sin of omission, while the second — if someone (anyone?) would file charges before the Department of Justice (DoJ) or the Ombudsman — is an overt act, a crime under existing laws.

The DoJ preached “compassion” on the Pimentel case, but that only fed accusations of a double standard of justice from an angry multitude, who rightly pointed out that no such compassion had been shown the ordinary people herded into police precincts for quarantine or curfew violations.

Government officials who have not risen to the challenges of the times are being given the “batoktoks” or bashings on social media by the millions of Filipinos who have found the power of free speech using their smartphones. Some are well-deserved, I’d say.

***

But what if Wi-Fi dies on us? What if the Internet goes dark at a time when the world needs all the facts and vetted information to fight off irrational fears from a virus made more fearsome by fake news?

There’s no belittling COVID-19 here. Fear would serve its purpose if it would knock enough sense into people for us to present a united front against this virus that has the potential to decimate humanity.

But fear from technology breakdown can spark anarchy. Already, as the digital editor of the Daily Tribune, I see reports on the increased demand on Internet infrastructure, with about a third of the world’s population confined at home and voraciously using bandwidth.

Nokia says there’s a rise of between 30 to 45 percent in Internet use and a whopping 400 percent increase in video game usage, including those that require connecting online for multi-player battles.

One of the world’s busiest web traffic hubs, Germany’s DE-CIX, saw a heretofore unheard-of 9.1 terabytes per second data throughput, although it boasted it could handle way hotter usage. Really?

A cavalier stance by DE-CIX that may be as the increased network traffic and online chokepoints have already forced video streamers like Netflix, YouTube, Disney and Facebook to dial down resolution in some instances. Netflix even went out of the grid for a while in some of its markets.

The Internet is robust but pockets of outage can and will happen due to infrastructure issues or too great a bandwidth demand. This is why we print the Daily Tribune, among other reasons. So that if and when technology fails us, we already have a legacy solution — a paper-and-ink newspaper — running side by side with our digital platforms.

Who said print is dead?

***

My household is not doing TikTok anytime soon. Not because I threatened that anyone who would do so would be deprived of inheritance — like they have something to inherit in the first place.

No, it’s because we have a living TikTok in our midst — Venom, that giant of an emotional support dog whose antics never fail to amaze us. But then again, we’re never saying never.

There are still some 20 days left in this lockdown. Who knows?

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