Skip to content

Twitterverse: Healthy Debate or Bardagulan?


January 2022 was an exciting month for #MedTwitterPH. There was much “bardahan,” which is short for “bardagulan” as far as I could tell. A quick Google search led to me to Esquire magazine’s Bardy’s or Bardagulan awards in 2020. Even Esquire could not give a dictionary definition of bardagular except to say it’s a form of shitposting. Dr. Narciso Tapia reminded me that there was a gentle giant character named Bardagol in the 1970s comics series Planet of the Eyps. Dagol means huge in Tagalog as @DiwaPH explained to me.

When is it a healthy debate and when is it bardahan? Dr. Gene Nisperos suggested the title of this post. And so I thought we should discuss this at the #HealthXPH tweet chat tomorrow, 4 Feb, 9 pm Manila time.

I began by searching for Twitter etiquette online. I had talked about this years back when I was trying to encourage Filipino doctors to join us at our #HealthXPH tweet chats. I remember asking the audience at these medical conferences, do you have a Twitter account? Only a few would raise their hands. And they would laugh when I say that I know who you follow: MMDA for traffic updates, PAGASA for the weather and your school, to know if there’s class suspension. They would laugh even more when I say, I bet no one here will admit that they follow Anne Curtis. Over the years, more and more Filipino healthcare professionals and students in the health professions have joined Twitter. But I must admit that even for #MedTwitterPH, the phenomenon that is the bardagulan is something I’ve only seen recently.

Jeff Goins enumerates 20 tips for better Twitter etiquette here. No. 7 is particularly useful in the context of the bardahan.

Refrain from flaming. Use your words to encourage and lift up rather than to tear down. Never underestimate the power of a tweet.

Jeff Goins,

I found a 2011 The Guardian article by Kathy Cowan, Twitter etiquette: the rules. What do you think of this particular rule? It practically says, we can expect bardahan to happen.

Accept the good, the bad and the ugly

Twitter is a public social network, so it’s inevitable that people will say whatever they like, whenever they like. Accept that not everyone will like you or your tweets and you will receive some negativity from time to time. You can’t control Twitter in this respect, just like you can’t control people.

Kathy Cowan, Twitter etiquette: the rules

Who makes the rules on Twitter anyway? And so the first question for the chat is –

T1. What would you consider a violation of Twitter etiquette?

I suppose that may vary from person to person. Let’s see what answers we get.

Next, I tried looking up why people argue on Twitter. Is there a benefit to arguing? A healthy debate can be a learning moment, right? My search led me to Cory Doctorow’s Twitter Arguments: A Theory of Change. He’s a tech policy activist. Cory says that tech policy is esoteric so most people don’t care. One strategy then is to argue with strangers to get them to look more closely at the issues. I avoid arguments online for many reasons, but this quote was a light bulb moment for me –

But there’s a far better reason to argue on Twitter than changing a stranger’s mind by rebutting their arguments: changing other peoples’ minds by running circles around them.

Cory Doctorow, Twitter Arguments: A Theory of Change

So even if you don’t actually convince the person you’re arguing with, people who are seeing the exchange can change their minds. Some might end up agreeing with you or at least become familiar with the issues. In which case a bardahan that attracts many spectators, be it on Twitter Spaces in the wee hours or the furious flurry of quote RTs, might actually be a good opportunity to thresh out the issues of the day. What do you think?

T2. Would you argue with a stranger on Twitter? Why would you join a bardagulan?

During a bardagulan, tempers flare and it’s not uncommon to find locked Twitter profiles and a blocking/muting spree as the aftermath. When is it appropriate to block or mute someone? I think it’s mostly a personal choice, though doing so leads to further misinterpretation and name calling, accompanied by a screenshot “resibo” (receipt). And so the final question for the #HealthXPH tweet chat is –

T3. Do you block or mute others on Twitter? What criteria do you use?

I found an intriguing set of criteria quoted here

The best advice I uncovered on this topic comes from Bill Ferriter (@plugusin). On his website The Tempered Radical he offers three highly intellectual criteria for consideration in Twitter-blocking:

Has the person taken the time to get to know who I am before throwing digital punches?

Does the person have a blog — or other online space — where they’ve carefully articulated their thinking BEYOND 140-characters?

Is there any evidence that this person sees the collaborative potential in conversations?

See you at the #HealthXPH tweet chat. Let’s have an open and pleasant discussion!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.