It is a truth universally acknowledged that you must think before you tweet, especially if you are a member of the official delegation of a country’s president that is visiting another state. So what on earth were media relations secretary (or whatever his official title is) Ricky Carandang and his deputy Mai Mislang thinking when they tweeted about the wines that were served at the state banquet hosted by Vietnam’s president for Noynoy Aquino?
As the story goes, Mislang tweeted that the wines served in the said dinner “sucks”, to which her boss, Carandang, replied, “Which one?” In another tweet, the Assistant Secretary also made disparaging comments on Vietnamese men, in effect calling them unattractive, and attaching the #vietnam hash tag.
As if the embarrassment from the 8/23 hostage-taking boo-boo weren’t enough, a couple of Pnoy’s people yet again managed to cast Filipinos in a bad light, this time with insensitive tweets that reeked of insensitivity, rudeness and a distorted sense of entitlement. For Pete’s sake, you people didn’t go to Vietnam at taxpayers’ expense for R&R; you went there to work and help improve relations between Vietnam and PH.
As for Carandang, what this points out to is that it’s one thing to read the news and another to be a bureaucrat with the proper skills required to manage one’s subordinates and the messages to which anyone in this connected world can access and archive. Judging by the missteps taken by other people in the past and the supposed expertise of those involved in handling communications, social media use and participation should not come as a rocket science, especially for people who have been working in the mass media and PR for a number of years. This is why it’s somewhat disconcerting to know that our top communications officials are still unfamiliar with the social networking terrain. Welcome to the interwebs.