One of the things we Filipinos are infamous for is our toxic behavior, for us Filipinos tend to trash-talk in online games. Thus, some nationalities are reluctant to play Overwatch and League of Legends with us. I have also observed that computer shops tend to be noisy places, with plenty of screaming Call of Duty players.

Even in social media, toxic behavior is rampant, seeing the comment threads of news pages alone. Offline, we are known to be polite and respectful, but we become monsters online.

Why do we normalize this kind of behavior?

Filipino Culture is Very Repressive

Like the Japanese, our culture is very repressive

First, we Filipinos become toxic online because our culture is very collectivist and seemingly repressive. Our cultural collectivism arose from our being a wet-rice society, for maintaining rice paddies is very labor-intensive, just like other aspects of life in Monsoon Asia. Japan, which is also in Monsoon Asia, is known to be a very collectivist and controlling society, for salarymen have to work long hours even if nothing needs to be done, just because everyone else is doing so.

So, the individual needs an occasional release from social repression. For the Japanese, this release can take many forms, just like after-work drinking, being into weird things, and even having a strange nightlife. For us Filipinos, we find this release in social media, where we become memelords. Sometimes, we become insensitive because we focus too much on the release, to the extent we forget about others.

Online = Unfiltered

We can be very unfiltered on FB

Next, we tend to become toxic online because we associate being online with being unfiltered. After all, we can hide behind the computer screen, unlike in normal conversations where we are exposed. In our culture, we have this notion of hiya (saving face), which ensures that we watch our actions. Since we cannot see who we are talking to online, we lose this sense of reservation, which allows us to be unfiltered

This explains the toxicity of Facebook news threads, since people don’t see who they are talking to, which allows them to take more potshots at each other. No wonder Facebook is now a warzone.

Being Online Allows us to Take Different Identities

In the Digital World, we can take on alter egos

Third, we tend to be toxic online because the virtual world allows us to take on new identities, just like in League of Legends, where players are referred to as their characters (ex. I am called Yi in LoL since I play as Master Yi). People tend to become more toxic in online games because they can separate themselves from their characters, just like how Phil Brooks is different from CM Punk. This can be bad because people who are polite in real life can become total monsters in games. So, please try to be the best you you can be online.

After all, toxic behavior can ruin the gaming experience. Online gaming is meant to be fun, not toxic.

Be the Change

In the end, we Filipinos can be toxic because of our collectivist culture, the unfiltered nature of being online, and our having different alter egos in online games. We may be known to be toxic, but that does not mean we have to stay that way. My grandmother would say that even in her eighties, she would still change her negative traits. So, it’s never too late to change. Change is coming, and it should start with you!