Tuesday, November 14, 2006

i like my kway teow with hum

Within the span of 24 hours, both Mr Wang and the KTM left comments on my blog, which I admit, made me feel rather elated (I'm still a noob mah). I totally didn't expect high profile bloggers like both of them to read my blog and go through some of my thoughts, which I do believe I've been rather clumsy in presenting.

Talking about the KTM, I was reading the comments on Kitana's excellent post (want to see what she wrote in reply to my comments mah), and in the KTM's comments, he quoted scripture twice, and offered for Kitana to drop him a note if she would like to discuss matters of faith. This, I found to be rather interesting, and considered to it to be somewhat unexpected, coming from a notable social/political-commentary blogger, and I became very curious in the KTM, and what kind of blogger is he.

On retrospect, I it should not have been that unexpected. I did read his not-so-recent post on WSM, and it end with another scriptural quote, although back then when I read it, I was so new to the blogosphere and read so many posts that I got all of them in my mind mixed up. So, out of curiosity, I read some of KTM's archived posts, and returned to read the WSM post, and for the first time, the comments. I thought that how KTM responded to the comments was very illuminating on the kind of person he is (aren't all blogs illuminating with respect to their authors?).

Firstly, among all the blogs I've read so far (and it's not that many, since I'm a newcomer), the KTM is by far the most politically moderate voice, in my opinion. And being moderate, against the backdrop of a predominating anti-establishment blogosphere, would make him seek starkly pro-establishment, and possibly, a quite disliked figure. Whispers of the Heart suggested that the KTM might very well be "a p65 MP hiding behind his stall", a thought which, I must admit, crossed my mind as well. How else can be invited to be a blogger for SPH's stomp? =P

Secondly, KTM reads comments on his blog, and responds to each and everyone of them. In the case of the WSM post, this must have taken hours, due to the sheer number of comments (mostly from detractors). Perhaps everybody does this, maybe it's blogosphere culture. But if its not, it shows the respect the KTM has for every opinion, every blogger, every voice. (or maybe he just deleted the comments he didn't want to respond to =P). I sort of think that's why he read my blog =).

Thirdly, whether or not you agree with the KTM, his views are well thought out, and important to consider. The KTM have on more than one occasion used the disclaimer "Don't take the KTM too seriously. Even the KTM does not take himself too seriously [insert smiley]", which somehow I doubt. I think he takes his views (or rather, the views he chooses to blog about) very seriously, in the sense that he definitely takes time to think through what exactly he wants to say, and probably spends much time thinking through how he wants to say it (usually, in a very simple, non-verbose but effective way). He rarely comes across as ranting (despite claiming that he is indeed ranting), and always appears thoughtful and considerate.

My point is, the KTM is a blogger who ought be highly respected in the blogosphere, if for nothing else, than for a good blogging ethic (think before you blog, respect others), and for daring to speak his mind even if it goes again the grain of the blogosphere. And he IS highly respected by some. (My guess is that's why he's a contributor to Singapore Angle). But, if I am right, if the KTM is a blogger who is significant in the blogosphere, and deserves all this recognition and respect of other bloggers, why do people respond in such a fashion to his post on WSM? This led me to think and ponder upon the nature of the Singapore blogosphere.

Granted the criticism that the KTM had been rather nasty in some of his posts and his replies to comments, and could possibly have been more diplomatic. But almost all (save a few, such as the one by Jolly Jester [incidentally, the KTM and Jolly Jester have a very interesting conversation about Derek Wee in this post]) of the bloggers who comment are equally, or even more so, "undiplomatic". Yet, the KTM responds to them all. [Although I did think, his argument with Whispers of the Heart turned a little ugly, but to his credit, he apologized. He also has a similar ugly argument with Laksa Lady, in Kitana's post about minimum wage] So, why are bloggers so angry at KTM?

Part of it, I'm sure, is the whole emotional furor which captivated the blogosphere because of WSM's comments. But I wonder if I should not take this as an isolated incident, but rather an insight to the Singaporean blogosphere psyche. If so, I am led to believe, Singaporeans make very poor bloggers (I'm referring to "serious" political/social-commentary bloggers, and with this distinction I believe I am excluding the bulk of those whom lambasted WSM). Why do I say that? I think we impose some kind of double standards upon the Singaporean blogosphere. We claim the blogosphere to be the platform where if a person wishes to blog, he/she has a chance to voice, a chance to be heard. The platform is not equal in the sense that having the correct keywords will help your blog get found on technorati, but it IS equal (supposedly) in the sense that all views, no matter of what alignment, are taken seriously and respected. Surely, when we blog, we hope our own voice to be taken seriously and be respected by those who read (this applies also to the satire blogs, just 'taken seriously' in a difference sense).

Yet, for a blogosphere who claims to have such openness (18-year old Gayle Goh is our celebatory icon on blogosphere inclusiveness), we seem to be rather intolerant of views whom we don't agree with. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the WSM incident is ought to be isolated, perhaps I hold too high standards of politeness and decorum on the blogosphere, or perhaps there is just something about the KTM which rubs people the wrong way. But I think a similar conumdrum still exists: we read some blogs or some comments, and then we think to ourselves "this blogger is a just a ginnah", and then we decide to not take such views seriously. And indeed, we ought not to, as proven by WSM. But yet, at the same time, we all hope (or at least I do) our own blogs and comments fall not into that category, that our blogs sound intelligent/knowledgeable/zai enough to warrant recognition by the rest of the blogosphere (or am I the only neurotic blogger around?). I can't help but feel that there is still some kind of "bo pian" double standards there. Perhaps this is why the KTM noted that as bloggers, we must all we willing to take flak (difficult I believe; bloggers seem to have fragile egos), and that most of us "don't know what we are talking", and that the internet is "free-for-all and full of random chatter". Perhaps this is so. Perhaps something like this is also what Yawning Bread meant by selective folly, and this is part of the reason why the blogosphere will largely be ineffective and mediocre.

Truth is, nobody is a "perfect" blogger. Nobody is 100% objective. It is impossible to please everybody. And Singaporeans behind a computer monitor and a keyboard, are probably not the most carefully thinking, respectful and diplomatic people on the internet. And they are never meant to be. If bloggers blog according to the greatest kind of empathy they hope to get from their readers, then the whole blogosphere will turn out to be one big uniform, anti-establishment ranting space, while maintaining the pretense of sounding intelligent and objective. The blogosphere will turn out to be the exact mirror to the Straits Times.

We need to celebrate and appreciate bloggers like the KTM. I think many of us already do. Whether or not we agree with his views, you have to agree that if more people in the blogosphere blogs like him, it would be a much less nastier place than it is now. I started blogging, all excited with this new discovery, hoping to find a platform (a vent?) to express my views and to discuss with others about serious issues. Yet, I find myself the victim of wondering if my blog or my comments are "good enough" to warrant the attention of others, and I almost forced myself to blog things which were not my real inner voice. It is an interesting place, this thing we call the blogosphere. I am still exploring what it does. I believe, all of us are still exploring too.


kwayteowman said...

Thanks for your kind words. BTW, faith and logic are not mutually exclusive. :-)

fearfullyopinionated said...

You are very much welcome. You can treat me to a free plate of kway teow (with hum) in return if possible. =)

I actually think faith is very much based on logic. I'm precisely trying to make that point in my posts about "worldview".

Jolly Jester said...

Heh, this discussion on faith and logic reminds me a philosophical argument put forth by my friend.

I would tend to see faith as an unsubstantiated belief in certain things, most notably religion. Quite a number of beliefs in religion require a so called 'leap of faith', meaning we just believe it either because we are taught to do so, or we simply feel that it is right.

Whereas logic requires us to substantiate our beliefs with the framework of logic. Thus in that sense I think some of the beliefs in religions can be explained/rationalised in terms of logic, which is why certain parts of religion is still very much applicable today (in our logic dominant world). And i suppose this is perhaps one reason why fearfullyopinionated think that faith is very much based on logic?

And now for my friend's interesting pt: How do we know that logic holds the keys to the truth (philosophically)? Is our belief in the powers of logic simply a faith in logic?

P.S: I am honoured to be referred to by you as one of the only few to have come to a diplomatic debate on KTM's blog's Derek issue. Thanks!