With the arrival of the Internet, the diversification and circulation of information broadcasts has become rapid in democratic societies. However, social media networks have entered an era where freedom outweighs professionalism, and in doing so, social media are affecting the ideas and actions of many of the younger generation.
During the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) past party-state rule, a person had to take the views of the KMT into consideration when commenting on people or things. In the Internet era all taboos are gone when you want to criticize someone or something, as long as you stay away from defamation.
This new era has also created its first batch of instant stars: Web celebrities.
As Taiwanese media outlets were unable to address sensitive political issues during the authoritarian era, the only way they could attract an audience and gain popularity was to publish controversial social news.
Those longing for freedom and democracy wanted reform and to break taboos, but Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) — a political hack who claims to hate ideology and claims to be “white” as opposed to belonging the blue, green or orange camps — has repeatedly glorified these taboos as being “Asian values,” and is opposed to examining others based on their ideological standpoint.
It is said that Ko’s controversial remarks are welcomed by the younger generation and the mayor has become a favorite politician among Web celebrities.
This half-baked politician — despite his high IQ — is a disaster. A person’s ideology is the core of their thinking and they should be proud of it without being afraid of being examined.
For example, the conservative and liberal camps in the US have different opinions on economic and social policy, and on how they interpret the US constitution. The Republican Party is more conservative, while the Democratic Party is more liberal.
Following US President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month to become a justice of the US Supreme Court, the Democrats are busy examining Kavanaugh’s previous statements.
Ko — a political rookie who believes in fascist ideology — has praised Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀).
That is the kind of ideology that really should be questioned and challenged.
He even believes that Taiwan is a part of China and said last year that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family.”
This is an issue of national identity and voters should examine it more closely than his political or social policies.
The younger generation is being misled in their belief that having a political ideology is shameful and a sign of being obstinate and stubborn. Without core ideas and beliefs, choosing which politicians they like or dislike easily becomes subjective and they vote for them as if elections were mere beauty pageants, ignoring the candidates’ political identity.
The Internet generation should make use of their freedom to honestly express their own ideals. The state of the nation’s development is worrisome if people are willing to be manipulated by others, and see the spreading of rumors and fake news as a positive thing.
A country will inevitably descend into chaos and disorder if its people do not attach importance to honesty and credibility.
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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