Thursday, April 21, 2005

Singapore's "Infantile Blogosphere"

So, as I was planning my stunningly amusing blog entry for the day, I was reading the heavily plugged Tomorrow and found a link to Mr. Steven McDermott's entry labelling the Singapore Blogosphere "infantile"; he refers to a 1995 article written by a certain “Ann Tellman” (which he reproduces in his site) and pronounces the Singapore blogging community ‘infantile’. In a nutshell, this statement pisses me off. Seeing as to how Mr. McDermott is obviously a reasonable, intelligent man, I will pitch this entry to a reasonable, intelligent, educated audience. Sorry, no ‘fuck you, fuck me, fuck the world’ in this entry. You can read my previous entry for that. I just have a few things which I feel need to be said, and damn it, I’m going to say them. You know the drill; if this bores you, click on the title of this post, see the blog babe of the day, maybe leave a comment, and go on your way. But for now, let’s get down to business.

To be fair, Mr. McDermott agrees that his statement may have been a little harsh; his logic, if I interpret it correctly is as follows:

1) Mr. Brown and Xiaxue are popular; in fact, they are, in all likelihood, the most popular blogs in Singapore.

2) The most popular blogs are by definition the most accurate reflection of the Singaporean blogger mindset

3) Neither Xiaxue or Mr. Brown raise thought provoking, status-quo changing posts, or incisive social critique. This makes their content un-intellectual. Mr. Brown’s ability to keep a job in the local newspaper somehow casts doubt on the controversial nature of his blog.

4) The lack of social commentary reflects an unquestioning support of the government, and thus allows the government unbridled power, which they are free to abuse as they like.

5) Singaporeans have thus fallen prey to the government’s evil ploy to keep our bellies full and our heads empty; we only have ourselves to blame when the revolution comes and we are the first against the wall.

Naturally, it was not Mr. McDermott’s intention to be inflammatory. However, I really resent the implications of his argument. I have a lot of very liberal friends here in the states, and they often say things about Singapore as well; how we’re citizens of a draconian police state, how our laws are punitive and harsh, how we’re oppressed, the list goes on; I always tell them that it isn’t as bad as they think, that Singapore’s system isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, and frankly, I’m tired of saying it.

Yes, it’s true that it’s kind of silly that there’s a law against chewing gum. Yes, it’s kind of silly that you get caned for vandalism. Yes, it’s kind of harsh that smuggling drugs gets you the death penalty, and yes, I do sympathize with Shanmugam Murugesu. I can accept it when people say Singapore isn’t the most liberal country in the world, and I can accept that sometimes, the government babies us a little bit. However, I really can’t stand the popular notion that it’s our national culture which is somehow to blame for this; I resent the portrayal of Singaporeans as unintelligent, unquestioning sheep who blindly follow the government’s autocratic doctrines and are, in some twisted way, responsible for their terrible state of affairs. I resent the implications that just because we love to eat and shop (believe me, I have a distinct passion for both these things) we are thus, by definition, purely consumers, and nothing more.

You see, Mr. McDermott, in my opinion, it’s not the Singapore blogging community that’s puerile. It’s the whole world; the internet in general. If you wanted to judge the state of the world from popular blogs, then, on the evidence of Maddox and Tucker Max, we’re all a little infantile. If you want to look closer to home, the ingenious folk at Rather Good and b3ta.com aren’t exactly paragons of maturity, either. As Shianux says in a comment on your post, blogs serve many purposes. One of these is entertainment. I would go so far as to say that the major purpose blogs serve is entertainment. As much as I hate to say it, the most popular use of the internet is not intellectual discussion, but entertainment. Given a choice, I will unwaveringly predict that the average male college student in America uses the internet more for downloading pornography than for debating politics. This does not make America a perverted, disgusting society (though some close-minded Singaporeans may have mentioned this off-hand, and hence propagated the image of the conservative Singaporean, opposed to ‘Western liberalism’); it merely reflects the fact that, most of the time, man kind in general is rather base. I’d love to say that the world is full of thoughtful, considerate, intellectual people, but it isn’t. In fact, I’ll even go a step further and confess that, more often than not, I am not a thoughtful, considerate, intellectual person.

Nonetheless, none of this implies that we’re infantile, either. Anthony, in reply to Mr. McDermott’s post, remarked how Singaporean websites like Talking Cock use humour to question the government; I feel this is one of the most striking pieces of evidence that we aren’t the sheep people make us out to be. While I can’t claim that the local film industry is regularly churning out stunning works of art, I like to think that it shows a lot of promise, and regularly churns out fairly good stuff, like Royston Tan’s fifteen, and Jacen Tan’s Tak Giu, which, if you think about it, is really not too shabby for a tiny little red dot.

Perhaps what really distresses Mr. McDermott is the fact that politically minded, mature blogs like his own or Shianux’s get so much less traffic than the blogs with less intellectual subject matter. Here’s a heads up, Mr. McDermott; as far as I’m concerned, intellectual blogs, in general, get less readers than the funny, irrelevant, irreverent ones. This is true all over the world. This is not necessarily because people are stupid; rather, it is due to the fact that the vast majority of people don’t have the energy to think about politics. Yes, political blogs in America and the UK have more readers; this is not because the people in these two countries are by default more intelligent. Rather, it is a direct result of the fact that there are more people in these countries.

So, in conclusion, please don’t say that our blogosphere is infantile. Please don’t insinuate that we are the unwilling perpetrators of our own allegedly unhappy existence. We like our food, and our shopping, and our trips to Malaysia, but this does not make us passive automatons. It just makes us normal people, who don’t like being called stupid.

Alright, sorry to all my regular readers for boring you with that rant. Here’s the blog babe you’ve all come for: All Things Oriental. Oh, I love the delicious irony of providing a blog babe today. No, she’s not a bimbo. In fact, she seems quite clever, even if she might like food.

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101 Comments:

Blogger TriplePeriod spewed forth...

Ooohhhh...Big Fuck. That was the best screw ever. Support maximus. *3 x Fist to heart*

22/4/05 00:19  
Blogger Anthony spewed forth...

Wow. Just...wow.

Well argued, very cogent.

22/4/05 00:53  
Blogger NaiveGuy spewed forth...

I like your arguement and agree to it, more or less.

About the credit going to mr brown and not you, well its sad, ppl tend to give big blog names teh credit of plugging you more than crediting the author itself. I guess ppl will only regconize you if some one of such stature plugs you.

Sad but true.

22/4/05 01:42  
Blogger Shortphat K spewed forth...

Yo J, You go boy!!! We don't need an ang moh to tell us how to lead our lifes. We have prob be colonized in the mind for too long already!!!

22/4/05 01:46  
Blogger Ah 9 spewed forth...

Nobody tells me what to blog or what not to blog, if not it's remotely 'blog-like'..

i will still continue to post stupid stuff, personal stuff, angwy stuff. I don't like to act intelligent and go on debating bout politics and social issues if i had the slightest knowledge.

If people like start getting involved in the bigger issues, wouldn't that be even a bigger joke?

*leak*

22/4/05 01:54  
Anonymous sugarrush spewed forth...

Oh my... U just got an A for writing that 'essay'.. hehe.. It's a great one!

22/4/05 02:18  
Blogger Shion spewed forth...

That mutherfucker can juz go jerk off at his own fucking country

22/4/05 02:36  
Blogger Panda Gets Bear spewed forth...

oh blogs. hehe.
yes, mr. mcdermott, try as he might to make insightful commentary, is just somewhat off isn't he.

yes good response.

meanwhile, i is dunk (dunk is drunk-speak for drunk).

22/4/05 02:42  
Blogger bubblewrapwaffle spewed forth...

I'm so proud of you for today's entry.
*tears amid standing ovation*

thanks for that great...



..chio bu blog link. you're the best. :)

22/4/05 02:43  
Anonymous cowboy caleb spewed forth...

Jolly good writeup. I agree with you 100%

22/4/05 02:55  
Blogger sassyjan spewed forth...

Like your argument,

and really... the Singapore Government isn't all that bad *wink*

22/4/05 03:10  
Blogger Army of me spewed forth...

great post. succinctly covers everything that is coherent. I get riled up too when this guy makes sweeping statements about the populace as a whole. Not that I'm a patriotic fan of everything Singaporean but there's something about an outsider generalizing about you that riles you up to no end.

22/4/05 03:28  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

man ur are stupidly lame..-.-

22/4/05 03:35  
Blogger zhi yang spewed forth...

how about all those other political sites like Instapundit and Wonkette? aren't those considered popular sites?

22/4/05 04:21  
Blogger Anthony spewed forth...

To Nethia:

-laughs- It may be a dysfunctional government, but it's -our- dysfunctional government dammit! No one gets to crap on it but us!

22/4/05 04:27  
Blogger Shortphat K spewed forth...

anthony:

Good Point!!! We don't need some ang moh to teach us how to crap on ourselves or govt...blah...

22/4/05 04:53  
Blogger suspiciousbastard spewed forth...

What Mr McDermott said was so ridiculous, it's funny. I shall therefore laugh it off and get on with my life.

22/4/05 05:20  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

http://www.ang3lique.blogspot.com/

everybody check this babe out!
Big Fuck hurry up and plug her blog~~!

22/4/05 05:23  
Blogger CELLE spewed forth...

bigfuck, that was really really awesome. Clear, concise, straight to the core and yet uplifting.
I agree with the content 100%. Maann.. I think Spore kicks ass.

22/4/05 05:34  
Blogger Ruok spewed forth...

that was a good fark man!

22/4/05 05:53  
Blogger Hai~Ren spewed forth...

Wonderful. *applause* Absolutely wonderful and delightful.

Besides, 'infantile' is by itself an extremely subjective word.

22/4/05 06:47  
Blogger Adrian spewed forth...

Very nice, dude. I'm proud to be linked on your blog.

22/4/05 07:14  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

I love this post! People look at our current consumerism culture and dismiss us as a shallow lot. They don't think of the fact that we have created an economic miracle out of a small piece of land with no mountains and no oil, with a small population of migrants from third world countries. Yes, perhaps we Are pampered, but why shouldn't we enjoy what we have, given that our grandparents slogged their guts our for the current level of wealth we have? Singapore may lack press freedom, but in terms of human rights, well, we didn't invade or colonise any countries to get rich. I believe that if Singapore were faced with another crisis we would rise to the occasion and beat the odds.

22/4/05 07:40  
Blogger Ra spewed forth...

HEAR HEAR! *salutes*

22/4/05 07:49  
Blogger calm one spewed forth...

i'm one of those at tomorrow.sg.
that post linking u was posted on 11 apr, when the site was still undergoing some testing, so i didn't pay any attention.
anyway i think the questions you posted should be quite clear to you by now if you poke around the site. if you still have questions, send it through the 'contact' page. the editors are pretty busy getting things settled, so they may miss a post comment.
as for crediting mb instead of you, i re-read the post, and i think it's a fair post, since it was merely quoting mb because he had an interesting commentary about your post. i hope your comment on feeling slighted was made in jest =)

22/4/05 08:21  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

not a bimbo? your kidding...your blog babe is a seemingly anorexic gym freak who feels guilty about drinking milkshakes.

boo to that!

22/4/05 08:48  
Blogger Stormtrooper's Lackey spewed forth...

wah sibei song, reading this post is equivalent to a good fuck man

22/4/05 10:17  
Blogger Adrian spewed forth...

Dude, youse got playa haytahs.

22/4/05 10:21  
Blogger redrown spewed forth...

heheh good rebut but kinda contrasts with your previous post where u raise issues about 'boring' blogs ..

22/4/05 10:32  
Blogger insanityiscreativity spewed forth...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

22/4/05 10:42  
Blogger expat@large spewed forth...

BF - I'd have to say that your syllogism:

"1) Mr. Brown and Xiaxue are popular; in fact, they are, in all likelihood, the most popular blogs in Singapore.

2) The most popular blogs are by definition the most accurate reflection of the Singaporean blogger mindset"

-- is logically incorrect. Bloggers blog. Blog readers read. There is certainly no indication that the people who read these blogs are necessarilly bloggers themselves (except for a section of bloggers who like to refer to other blogs -as Steven does all the time actually, and I do occassionaly.)

For example, I certainly don't spend any time with either one of those two popular blogs, or not to name any other names like Mr Miyagi who is similarly local and superficial, as they do no tell stories that I am usually interested in. "Today" readers read Mr Brown. He's a nice guy don't get me wrong, but his topics are not on my wavelength. But maybe I am weird.

And despite what you say, I have learned in my short time here - 9 months, compared to my 7 years in Hong Kong (which has its problems, but at least you have a growing culture of dissent) - that this place stinks beyond high heaven politically. It royally sucks. It really really sucks. It might be OK you've been brainswashed by the education system and media here but if you're used to something a bit more open to different opinions... this country is fucked.

i.e.

You can't just stop a noted international personality from speaking at a public meeting about the death penalty because the Government disagrees. You can't ban a dance-party because there might be gay sex eventuating. You can't KILL a person for having not much more than party's amount of marijuana on him. You can't ban a movie because it attacks the lameness of the opposition party. You can't cut the kissing scene between Kevin Spacey and Chris Cooper in Amercin Beauty. You can't can't charge $50 per extra litre of imported wine!

Oh that's right, these abominations are OK because in Unique Singapore, CAN!

But I might be being too infantile with these opinions... God and the Lee family forbid that I should dissent from established Singaporean opinions.

E@L

22/4/05 10:45  
Anonymous preetam rai spewed forth...

Hi,
I am sorry, we failed to reply to your comment, I think you caught us just about the time we were about the launch the site.

Anyway, we are just a bunch of local bloggers. We thought it would be good to put together a slashdot style aggregator of local blog entries of interest.

22/4/05 12:50  
Blogger xander spewed forth...

na bei. as i always say, stupid angmohs.

22/4/05 13:54  
Anonymous Jol spewed forth...

Joel, you know I love you, but I'm with expat@large here. It isn't, mostly, the average Singapore citizen's fault, but the political system is so bad and - more importantly - so very pervasive in its effects that most of us have been shaped by it almost beyond our capacity for recognition. And one of the things it has done is that it has made the spectrum of 'normal' incredibly narrow. And I think when only a small range of aspirations and attitudes is regarded as acceptable, a certain degree of infantilism is inevitable. If you never meet people who are different, if you are never challenged, then you never grow.

This is obviously not true of everyone in Singapore and the converse is not true of everyone everywhere else. But there is a disturbing uniformity among (at the very least) JC-university educated students. I confess to not knowing very many other Singaporeans, but at least within that demographic range I think there are serious issues in terms of social outlook.

22/4/05 14:56  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

expat@large, what you don't seem to realise is that you have a different political ideology than which is had by a large number of countries in the world. You have been brainwashed from young that as long as people have the right to protest and criticise, a country doesn't suck. You have been brainwashed the other way, which is that just because you believe in something, it's necessary to shove it down the throats of the rest of the world, even by waging wars with countries which do not embrace your political ideologies. and that sucks more than having press control.

You need to realise that most Singaporeans are very aware that there are some issues not covered in the press. But every singaporean could access any news at the click of a button, on the internet. Too many of us study overseas, in the most politically diverse of countries for you to say that Singaporeans who stick up for Singapore, don't know what they are talking about.

We may be "politically incorrect" in the global arena, but some of the worst human rights violations are being committed by nations which proclaim to be the most democratic. Perhaps instead of trying to make us feel like we live in the Matrix, you should ask yourself whether its time to challenge your own belief system.

22/4/05 16:26  
Anonymous Jol spewed forth...

Anonymous:
But we do live in the Matrix.

Who's 'brainwashed' into believing in democracy (or its forcible imposition, which is not the same thing)?

You can be as openly antidemocratic as you like in a democratic country. You can march through the streets of London or Paris or Boston to protest when your country launches a war that you disagree with - and millions have. These open disagreements mean that people are continually bombarded with a variety of perspectives. Brainwashing? How can it be brainwashing if people are always saying something different?

Try marching (peacefully, mind) down Orchard Road to protest the ISA and PAP rule and see where that gets you. (I can tell you - in jail.)

Why should you have to go onto the Internet to find 'alternative' news sources? Why should there be such a thing as 'alternative' news sources (instead of just lots of sources)?

The human rights problems in the West (America in particular) are terrible. I don't deny that for an instance. But they are the product of the failure of democracy, not its excessive implementation. America has a serious democracy deficit going on at the moment (very, very many seats in the legislature are effectively uncontested because of bipartisan gerrymandering). THAT, not commitment to democracy, is the problem.

Moreover, I can guarantee you that any truly democratic citizen of a Western country will decry Western human rights abuse JUST AS MUCH AS YOU DO. We need to STOP seeing everything through the lens of West v. East. Both East and West have the same problem - that of insufficient commitment to democracy and human rights. The approach we should take to hearing about our country's problems is NOT to say "but you are just as bad, nee na nee na nee na!" It's not a trade-off. It's not like you either refuse to believe in democracy or you have to invade the rest of the world. The West's mistakes are the West's mistakes - but we have fucking huge mistakes of our own, and you had better believe it.

22/4/05 17:48  
Blogger jettykey spewed forth...

A good argument! I'm definitely on your side.

22/4/05 18:07  
Blogger J Schnorng spewed forth...

Seeing as to how I have to run out and get free food, and then get smashed, as well as how there are so many comments on this one post (wow, who would have thought?) I have to make this quick:

1) e@l; I made a mistake there; I didn't mean bloggers, I meant blog readers. That was a glaring mistake, and if I wasn't so damn lazy, I'd go correct it.

As to the other points:

Yes, I agree, Singapore is not that free of a country. I never said it was. I don't proudly wave a flag saying, 'look at Singapore, it has the best government in the world,' but you know what, I sort of like it there. I admit, it has its problems; it would be nice if we could hold big old gay parties, or march down orchard road to protest human rights abuses, or whatever. That would be fantastic. As it stands, you can't, or the government puts you in jail. Yeah, that sucks. I suppose, in some way, it sucks that a lot of university students don't really do anything about it, either.

But, you know what? That wasn't my point. I suppose Jolene (since she's so clever) was the only one who really did get at what I was saying at; you know, with her comment about the disturbing uniformity among our highly educated.

To be honest, darling, I don't feel that's necessarily true. Fair enough, when I left Singapore, you know, to come to the states, I was all about meeting more interesting, diverse, people and whatnot, and I was a little alarmed by what I perceived as a lack of variety in terms of people. But you know what? I've gone away, and I've come back, and I've talked to people, and made a couple friends, and I'm beginning to think I was a little wrong in thinking that; I'm beginning to think there are actually a lot of thoughtful, intelligent, perceptive people in Singapore who I totally passed over.

I'm not disputing the fact that the political situation in Singapore can kind of suck; in fact, I've been reading Mr. McDermott on and off for a while now, and, in general, I really think what he's doing is important, even if I might not be particularly interested in what he has to say. I even voted for him in the freedom blog awards and all, seeing as to how I was so impressed. I just think he crossed the line when he made a comment that cast aspersions on the the quality of the people, if you catch my drift.

I wish I had time to write something more considered, but then, my brain is tired and my stomach is empty.

I want to go get dinner.

Oh yeah, to the folks at tomorrow, I removed my comment about your website. Let's be friends.

Regards,
J.

22/4/05 18:16  
Blogger J Schnorng spewed forth...

addendum:

1) Oh jolene, you're so clever. Every time you say clever things, I think, that's my darling daughter. How did she get so clever? Then I think, oh wait, she was always clever.

2) Hey guys, let's be nice. I like lively debate, and I like flying insults, but let's flame above the belt, ok?

Examples of a good flame:
[xyz] is a [insert choice insult] because of [insert logical argument]. [insert considered, well placed expletive], next time before saying something, bring your brain, [expletive].

Bad flame:
a) BEND OVER YOU'rE an AsShole I will fuck your mom.

b) What a fucking dumbass. I fucking hate [insert racial slur or something sensitive]

c) Fuck! FUCK FUCK! FUCK !FFUCKKKFUCK!U!!!

If you're going to be mean, at least be clever. Clever and mean is cool. Stupid and mean people should hide under bridges and be trolls.

That is all.

Regards,
J.

22/4/05 18:25  
Anonymous Jol spewed forth...

Daddy dearest, you are too sweet. :)

But I have always admired you precisely for the range of people you know (and are able to get to know, and are able to get along with) despite the fact that you went to all the hoity toity schools that you did. I just wish there were more people like you among the highly-educated Singaporeans I know.

Perhaps the things that upset me most about Singapore are the things that I see most as having created problems in myself. I often think this. Like with uniformity - who do I know who couldn't just replace me in an instant? I go to a school or class reunion and everybody is the same - doing the same things, believing the same things, knowing the same things. You can be 20-odd years old and people still ask "Which school did you go to?" within several minutes of meeting you and think they can draw conclusions from that - as if all the things you do in the intervening time, all the places you've been and people you've seen, change nothing.

I go to my boyfriend's school reunion (he went to school in Wales) and he is the only PhD candidate there. He had classmates who are now supermarket managers, he had a classmate who had a child in school, he had classmates who are communists, he had classmates who are mental retards, he had classmates who are in jail for dealing. And I think, no wonder the people I know who went to all the "good" schools and "good" JCs don't know shit about people. They don't know any people!

I would be more hopeful about NS but your experience - the range of people you met and truly got to know, rather than being wary of them from a distance - seems so exceptional among the JC-educated.

I know many marvellous people in Singapore - but I also so often feel that so many people play by some unspoken code that makes it so hard for people to explore what they honestly think, what they honestly feel. There is such a strong sense of what is 'correct'. And the result is that so many people seem to end up just... not exactly the same, no, but never treading out of particular boundaries. Say something that doesn't play by those rules and they look at you really weird and ask you to justify it instead of accepting that different people are just different. Say things that don't play by the rules often enough and you get what I always get - "Oh, but that's just you lah, you are different" ("Different" if they're kind, "weird" if they're not.)

So many other examples as well - why is the way that people speak such an issue? Why does it matter whether you speak English or Singlish, whether you know certain Hokkien or Malay words, whether you have "an accent" or not? I don't judge anyone just because they don't speak the way I do; why should they judge me based on the assumption that I do? Aren't they playing the same game they so abhor in people who are (supposedly) "atas"?

I accept this not mixing enough with people is my problem too - I know this is my fault as well - but I really think that the education system and the media have a lot to do with it. Put people in classes full of other people just like them, and bombard them with points of view that all come from - basically - the same school of thought, and how different can you get? It's not that there's anything wrong with Singaporeans' innate ability to develop in different directions - they just so rarely get to use it. They should get rid of nationwide streaming - get rid of school ranking - get rid of the notion that "meritocracy" means that people who do better in school are somehow more valuable people.

I'm probably conflating a lot of unrelated issues here - but everything is woven in so tightly together, I don't really know how else to talk about it.

Anyway, enough outpourings from me. I hope you enjoyed your food. :)

22/4/05 18:58  
Blogger li spewed forth...

just thought i'd say hi. :)

22/4/05 19:16  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

Jol,

Perhaps these problems surface because of the company and the social circles you have. Let's remember that it is your choice, which you continue to make, because obviously even though you are aware of it, you just speak and wonder but don't do anything to change the situation but rant. There are ways to change the situation. Go to a coffeeshop, hang out, talk to the heartlanders. Talk to a taxi driver and try to see from his point of view. Talk to the chicken rice seller and see if you can identify with his perceptions and primary concerns for life in Singapore and what he thinks are the problems the country face, and you'll probably disagree with him and be unable to conduct a proper conversation with him. The main reason why you face such problems is because you fail to understand that while people do not have a choice of what kind of education system they go through, they do have a choice in the kind of people they hang out with. Ok, maybe you do, but my surmise is that you say all this because you think you don't know shit about people and you have to find a scapegoat to blame for that. Perhaps the people of diverse backgrounds that you wish to know more about, or maybe you can claim yourself to be enlightened about, do not enjoy having a conversation with you, because the basis of your friendship with them is warped - not sincere, but more for the sake of diversity and non-uniformity.

"no wonder the people I know who went to all the "good" schools and "good" JCs don't know shit about people. They don't know any people"... - precisely, because you don't know shit about people too. Would you have known more about people if you hadn't gone to the "good" schools? Maybe. Would you be saying what you say today if you hadn't? Probably not.

Sadly, you do judge people because they don't think the way you do. Look, be honest and say that you think Singaporeans have no mind of their own, unlike yourself. You judge them for being one-dimensional, for being apathetic, for being like blind sheep following a nanny shepherd. That is why you will never end up with a range of friends from diverse backgrounds at home, because every different social, cultural or educational background brings with it an unspoken code of behavior, different rules of the game and different dynamics of inter-relations. Can you accept that? Whether it's the heartlanders, the oldfashioned Chinese people, the Indians in Serangoon Road or the Malays hanging around on their motorbikes or at a football game, they will become wary of you because you bombard them with your ideas when you do not understand what culture really is. It's ironic, because you do judge almost everything and blame the education system or the govt almost entirely. It's not that they are totally blameless for the problems we face in society. Both scapegoats play a more insignificant role than you think. The real reason stems from your own upbringing and your social class and today, your high level of education. Social comparison (including which school you go to etc.) is a human problem that exists in all societies, not just in Singapore.

Maybe you will read this and think: Oh, but that's just you lah, you are the same as the rest. It's true. We do accept people for what they are, but only when we bear in mind that every little sub-society within the larger context of a ethnic or national society has a culture, ie. an unspoken code, rules of the game, boundaries, (some universal, and perhaps exclusive) of its own. If you have problems with it, then obviously you will not fit in.

22/4/05 21:26  
Anonymous vinyarb spewed forth...

whoa.. good fuck, good fuck!

Anyway, blogbabe consideration here: www.xanga.com/goofygal

=) Enjoy~

22/4/05 22:02  
Anonymous Jol spewed forth...

Anonymous:

(1) I don't disagree with you that I have my fair share of fault for the problem. In fact, I said so in my last post. I just think another large part of the problem is created by the education system and the government. If you don't think the environment you face almost every day of your life when you are basically a child affects your outlook, you are... superhumanly independent of mind. Sad to say, I am not.

(2) At least partly - if not largely - because of the way the education system works it took me 22 years to come to the realisations I am now explaining. I'm not sure what superhuman effort you think I should have expended when I was 13, or even 17, to overcome attitudes that were accepted as completely natural by everyone in my vicinity (parents, schoolmates, teachers) and "hang out" with people outside of the most obvious places to meet them - in school.

(3) I have spent the last 4 of those 22 years abroad. It's not exactly surprising that I don't spend a lot of time talking to Singapore's taxi drivers or hawkers while I'm not actually in Singapore.

22/4/05 22:23  
Anonymous Jol spewed forth...

Incidentally, I think the whole Heartlander/Cosmopolitan "educated people care about liberty while more down-to-earth people realise it's pointless" dichotomy is silly. My driving instructor was a working class man through and through, and he once told me "The last people in life I trust are government servants and lawyers." The people who suffer most greviously from the status quo include people who are subject to the criminal justice system - mostly the poor. There are just as many "Heartlander" gays as there are "Cosmopolitan" gays. I'm not entirely sure why you should think that a liberal/democratic deficit that you imagine I think is the primary problems in Singapore would not be something that affects everyone.

Incidentally, I was trying to figure out what about your last comment irked me although I fundamentally agree with you it's to a significant extent my fault that I don't know very many people outside of my profile, and I realised it was because you assume that I'm not actually sincerely interested in the people I meet. I don't know where you got that impression, but I should sincerely hope that is neither the case in reality nor that that is the impression I project when I interact with people. I'm not sure if you think that I'm not interested in speaking to you, right now, while I'm typing this. Do you think I'm just saying this because you're another "different" person to talk to? I should hope not - and if you can accept that, I should hope you also accept that it's not true I'm not interested in the people I talk to and that I will - in your words - "never end up with a range of friends from diverse backgrounds at home." Do you know me? Perhaps you do - you're anonymous, so I can't tell - but if you don't, I'm not sure what your basis for this comment is.

22/4/05 22:31  
Blogger expat@large spewed forth...

(AAAaahhhhh! Just accidentally deleted a 3hr-drafted 1000 word reply! Lucky for you lot! Here is the revised - after breakfast - version.)

lx: thanks for that thoughful and considered reply. I think I am getting closer and closer to understanding the Singaporean mindset thanks to comments like yours. Don't worry, you are not alone. Similar expression are rife over at Mr Brown's comment page (yes, I visited, just to see what poeple like you are thinking. And it's obvious that they are not.) As I said to MrBrown and to Steve, maybe "racist" and "insular" should be added to the list...

Jol: thank you for backing me up and explaining what I meant. I have my 30 year school reunion coming up in a few weeks. I wonder if the range of rapscallions will challenge your Welsh friend's.

Joel: sorry I was not clever enough to get your point. You had a point? Ah that the world is peurile. I think you missed Steve's point, that there is not enough serious and significant discussion on matters of political freedom and dissent in Singapore. As there are no outlet from dissent in the government controlled press, why is it not bubbling to the surface in blogs? Because dissent has been brainwashed away?

Sorry, yeah, I went off on a brilliant tangent, as is my infantile wont.

Jol and Joel: get a room.

Anonymous: I've been brainwashed... into thinking for myself.

E@L

(Damn, I forgot all the really good putdowns from my first draft! Don't you hate that?)

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23/4/05 01:23  
Blogger Daniel spewed forth...

Suffice to say that Mr McDermott's critique of the blogosphere here is one-sided and narrow in its scope. At this moment, a comparision with Western blogospheres would prove useful.
I wouldn't bet on them having a fundamental difference.


but +1 to what Jol and E@L said - you'd never grasp the pervasiveness of the false consciousness you're living, until you manage to extricate yourself from it and look at it from the outside.

23/4/05 01:32  
Blogger Adrian spewed forth...

Trademark irrelevance to break the tension:
I find it interesting and perhaps a little telling that expat wrote an entire paragraph in response to a stupid one-lined racial slur. Seriously.

23/4/05 02:10  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

Perhaps our political system doesn't conform to expat@large's standards, but you know what, it's still in the making! The current system that the US has took about 1000 years to develop! We're a 40 year old country, for goodness' sakes.

Expat@large, the very act of dismissing an entire nation of as "racist" is in itself stereotypical. There is no totally unracist country, and no totally racist country. Everywhere you go there will be closeminded people who like to feel superior to others, which manifests itself in the form of elitism based on race or wealth. But there are also people in every country who are not racist. So, terming all of us racist is just plain unfair, and quite frankly, ironic. Especially if you come hail from Britain or the US, where violent racist crimes are committed. I know that the occurrence of these crimes doesn't give me the right to term all Americans or British racist, and you should know that too.

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(McDermott)Singabloodypore's observation hit a raw nerve within the Singapore blogosphere primarily for two reasons: first is that the observation came from an Ang Moh, and secondly, there is the harsh connotation that the word "infantile" evokes.

The fact is that Steve has identified a significant segment of the blogging community possessing certain unflattering characteristics which merit further exploration within the blogosphere itself, yet the diatribe is destined to be buried in an avalanche of defense mechanism postings precisely because of the above two reasons cited.

Stripped of the emotionalism inherent in bruised ego knee-jerk reactions, let us suppose the remarks were made by a Singaporean and in lieu of the "infantile" label, let us say that the commentator had used "generation-xx" or whatever label is acceptable for the singled-out segment. Would that still have invalidated the observations made regarding the existence of such a significant segment exhibiting certainly verifiable properties?

The Jester hold’s the magic mirror in front of the Queen who asks “Who’s the fairest one of all?” If the Queen can’t accept the mirror’s answer, does it mean, that the court Jester forfeits his head? Looks more like the Queen prefers to bury her head in the sand instead!

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i don't think our claim to democracy or civil rights or any of these other glutinous ideals is any more or less valid than that of other countries. people who fling out "better" or "worse" with even the slightest measure of dismissive, flippant arrogance need to be screwed up the arse because we all have our flaws and the prerogative to decide whether one flaw is more grievous than another is not ours to assume.

there's no point talking about what's wrong with us, because we know what's wrong with us and anyway there's things wrong with everyone. and there's no point talking about how to get it fixed, because everyone has a theory, but at the end of the day, put us in at the top and we wouldn't even know where the fuck to start.

seriously. no, seriously. can anyone be arsed to do more than talk?

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