Friday, December 08, 2006

not enough space for all of us

this is a rant post.

perhaps by the end of the post you would think that it doesn't quite sound like a rant post. but i still think its a rant post. what is considered a rant and what is considered not a rant? does the fact that i think i'm ranting make it a rant? i will return to these questions at the end of the post.

next, i am a lazy person. i suspect i will be using the term "civil and rational discourse" very often later on in this post, so i shall abbreviate it to become "CRD". i suspect most people who are following the current issue being discussed on the blogosphere knows what CRD is, but for the sake of maybe some sec school kid who happened to stumble unto my blog:

"discourse" refers to a dialogue of some sorts. meaning you are interested in engaging the other party in a conversation. you're not just interested in expressing your own view. "rational" refers to the fact that the dialogue is a supposedly "intellectual" one. that means, you do not just state your views, but support them with arguments. similarly, other parties in the conversation support their views with arguments, and you engage their views by assessing their arguments. and "civil" means, well, all parties involved in the discourse try to be nice, even when they disagree. it means respecting the person, even if you don't agree with the views of that person.

but for now, my rant:

i am feeling sad. upset. maybe even depressed. why do i feel this way? the more i think about it, the more i feel that the singapore blogosphere (or rather, plogosphere, it matters not) is just one big ugly place. how come?

on my previous post, there was this comment by an anonymous dude:

OK, we talked about the rights of bloggers. We talked what to do write and what not to write. We have the great minds here debating the definitions of rights. So, why do you want to blog:

1) to be someone
2) to increase web traffic
3) to read the content yourself
4) to test your minds
5) to test your keyboards
6) to share your own opinions
7) to help others to understand
8) to mug around
9) to do nothing
10) to practise our rights

Do you want to help the rest to understand the complexity of policies, with you being knowledgeable in the higher concepts of things around us? I find that the content is academically "nice". So, are we going to have a space for the higher minds to converse, a different space for the normal minds, and some small space for those rant.

This is Singapore, we have problems. We need ways to make all to know that there are problems. People are different, they will have different views/emotions and people are trying their best to express their problems.

I hope that they still have the rights to rant about the feelings (of course, within the proper limits). We have the choice to accept or not. We can re-write our blog content, but some of us cannot delete our sufferings from our minds.

How about our rights "to be free"?

At the end of the day, why do you want to blog?

now, i am not saying this dude got me upset because he said stuff which was mean. nor am i saying, i've got a problem with him. actually, i'm not even sure what he meant by that comment. was he trying to ask me a question? or was he trying to make a point? if so, what was his point he was trying to make? was he looking for me to engage his point in a discussion, or was he just interested in expressing his point and not requiring of me to respond? was he purposely being inarticulate to display with irony that you don't always need to have a point to comment/blog? i don't know. i can't tell. maybe i'm just not a very good comments reader.

my da jie tells me i should just ignore this comment.she thinks this dude was just ranting his disapproval at my style and choice of content of my blog. i was thinking about this business of "ignoring". the KTM has also previously said that he ignores "online trolls". No doubt, "ignores" here means physically ignore them. don't DO anything to respond to them. treat them as if they never exist. but there is another sense of the word "ignore". that is to emotionally ignore someone. that means, no matter what mean stuff someone says to you, you don't FEEL emotionally affected by it. it is of course very possibly to be very emotionally affected (e.g. feel angry) but choose to not respond (physically ignore).

when the KTM said that bloggers must learn to be more thick skin, he meant that bloggers must learn to not be so emotionally affected by flak. In other words, bloggers must learn to emotionally ignore comments or posts which they find offensive. no doubt words of wisdom, but perhaps of limited applicability. the KTM himself admits that some bloggers are like "a bull charging at you", and that even the cool KTM has a difficult time giving a charitable response, meaning, he was definitely emotionally affected by such comments. your skin can only be so thick.

we humans, bloggers included, are not just thinking individuals. we are thinking AND feeling individuals. we have no on-off switch we can press to switch off our feeling selves (although some say we can easily switch off our thinking lah). negative emotions directed towards you will usually affect you negatively. so even if we INTENDED to ignore people who are offensive, they may affect us so much emotionally, then we are emotionally compelled to do something about it, and we end up shooting back a scathing reply. that's why its so easy for experienced trolls to cause havoc.

why do we get emotionally affected in the first place? it appears to me this happens when something valuable to us becomes threatened, or comes under attack. such as our own views, and our own selves. you know what i find valuable? CRD. i think CRD is both intrinsically valuable (a good thing in itself), as well as instrumentally valuable (in deciding how you should think about issues, or deciding how you want to vote in the elections, for example), and hence i care about CRD. and because i care about CRD, i get emotionally affected and upset when i see CRD just not going to work out.

you are not interested in CRD you say. you are only interested in expressing your own views (or maybe just your angst and gripes), and actually you don't give a hoot what other people say about them. fine. you want to be free to disagree with other people's views and label them "ignorant", "naive", "stupid" etc etc (i could list all the adjectives but that would make my post REALLY long), but hey you're not really that interested to consider if your OWN VIEWS may possibly be mistaken. fine. your views are infallible. anybody who disagrees with you must be chastised for his/her ignorance, stupidity and naivety. fine. you can't prevent me from saying what i want to say. rant what i want to rant. insult who i want to insult. this is my right. fine.

fine, if you are isolated, live as a hermit, and your actions won't affect anyone else, that is. the blogosphere is a COMMUNITY. get used to that fact. that means that whatever we post or comment on the blogosphere, has the potential to affect other bloggers. we are all connected. we read what each other say. if what we read strongly offends us, we cannot emotionally ignore it. And if we become so emotionally affected that we are compelled to respond to it, we usually do so angrily. perhaps some of you will like to do so upon reading this post. it would be good if you can help provide examples, you know.

give me all my rights! responsibility? who needs that?

ah, but that's the beauty of the internet you say. it celebrates diversity. everyone is free to voice their own views. everyone is free to criticize the views of others. dude, remember WSM? was she free to voice her own views (no matter how misguided?) was she free to criticize the views of others (no matter how valid?). then why was she effectively banished from the blogosphere? oh i see. she was free to voice her own views (provided she agreed with your views), and free to criticize the views of others (provided she did not criticize your views).

oh, but you didn't banish her you say. she closed down her blog on her own free will. yeah, you left lots of nasty stuff on her blog, you called her names you would never call your mother, you dug up photos of her in a bikini, and you even commented on her anatomy. but she closed her blog down on her own free will! eh, but then, Elia Diodati says that WSM closed her blog down because she "did not survive the exposure to collective scrutiny" of the blogosphere for very long. this is part of our already in-built "self-regulatory" system of the blogosphere. oh, i see now. there is social darwinism in the blogosphere. survival of the most anti-establishment.

dudes. we will always have disgreements. the fact that someone disagrees with you does not make him stupid, ignorant or naive. your eyes are not his eyes. your ears are not his ears. he may have seen or heard things you haven't. you may have seen or heard things he hasn't. that's why we want to have CRD. so we can share our thoughts, which are going to be different because we all seen and heard different things, and hopefully without ending up like we're trying to kill each other. but you care not. you only care about your views, and your desire to express them.

there is this account by Thomas Hobbes of the state of nature of humans. we humans are self-interested by nature. it is our instinct for survival. we will do anything preserve our own liberty and safety. the presence of other humans threaten our liberty and our safety. maybe my neighbour will steal my food. maybe he will murder me to claim my wife as his own. this leads to the bellum omnium contra omnes, the war of all against all. as a result of this war, human life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". but us humans, we are smart. we realize hey, if we co-operate with each other. we might actually all live longer, and we can escape this nasty war of all against all. so we become willing to co-operate. but then, we need safety checks to make sure my neighbour doesn't come and stab my back when i co-operate with him. so that's why we produce something called a governement, with laws and power to punish those who try to cheat the system for their own gain. being under the governement means we voluntarily give up some of our rights. we now must bo pian follow the laws, or else kena chop by the government. but we all willingly do so, becoz we want the government to make sure my neighbour never cheat me mah.

now look at the local blogosphere/plogosphere. we are in a state of every blogger for himself. it is like we are in hobbes' dystopian state of nature. the recent talk of having self-regulation is analogous (but only slightly so) of Hobbes' talking of voluntarily submitting yourself to a government. but of course we won't stand for it. we are not willing to have any of our rights removed from us. these are OUR rights! no way we want to give them up. somebody say seditious remarks, kena chop by garmen. their own daichi lah, as long as never happen to me. somebody say throw some insult somewhere and start a damn big flame war. aiyah, this is the blogosphere mah. sure happen one. just don't you dare flame me ah.

that is why this blogosphere (or plogosphere) just does not have enough space for all of us. we do not have enough room for people interested in CRD, AND people interesed only to scold the government, AND people interesed only in themselves and their rights, AND people who only want to express their views AND people who cannot articulate their views clearly enough so they always get misunderstood AND yet at the same time we don't want to be insulted, flamed or kena name-called by anybody else. not enough space, say i.

maybe that anon dude got interesting suggestion. maybe we should partition ourselves. have a separate plogosphere for people interested in CRD, a separate plogosphere for anti-garmen ranting, and a separate plogosphere for "higher minds". so how? you tell me lah. but keep in mind when we do so, we throw diversity out of the window hor. if i'm in the CRD plogosphere, strictly no-name calling allowed hor. if i'm in the anti-garmen plogosphere, no pro-garmen stuff allowed hor. so whatever happens to freedom of speech then?

so do you think this is a rant post? i am more than happy to entertain CRD on any points i've just raised in this post (you are welcome to disagree with my pessimism on the state of the blogosphere, the value of CRD, or anything else for that matter). and i have a point to make, and i did attempt to make some sort of argument with some semblence of coherence. does that make my post NOT a rant post? but i still think it is a rant post. why? because i make no attempt to hide my emotional motivation behind it. there is clearly emotional content here, and not just intellectual content. i should ignore rant posts but not ignore "serious" posts, some tell me. so should you ignore this post or not?

what will you do when you are on a boat which is so crowded with people that it might sink? maybe you would push your neighbour off. dun need to worry, he can swim, and shore is close by. but he has every right to be on that boat as you do. not your daichi. who ask him never push you off first.

me? i will probably jump off.

i would like to solicit YOUR opinion on this. (yes, i am explicitly asking for comments). most, if not all of you, have been here longer than i have. if the blogosphere is indeed too small for all of us, can you provide me with a reason why i should still stay here? perhaps you can share your reason for staying on and maybe i will be inspired or encouraged by you.


kwayteowman said...

Boy ah boy,

You're seriously over-reacting! :-( To be honest, the comment you highlighted wasn't even particularly nasty (!).

The KTM does not follow your argument on why there is insufficient space for everyone on the blogosphere.

The interesting thing about the blogosphere is that it isn't of a fixed size and it gets divided into smaller and smaller pieces with more and more people. It actually grows with the number of people and each bloggers can carve out a small slice of his own space for himself.

Why should you continue blogging? That is a question that you will have to answer for yourself.

Hopefully, you have no illusions that the blogosphere is necessarily a friendly place. But to some extent, that's how the world is --- you have your nice people and you have your nasty people.

You just have to learn to deal with them. Perhaps you can avoid the nasty bloggers by throwing in the towel, but when you start work, the KTM guarantees you that you will meet some nasty colleagues in your working life. Then how? Quit your job?

You can run, but you cannot hide.

If the KTM has to come up with a reason why you should hang around, perhaps it's so that you learn to deal with nasty comments and nasty people?

Aiyah, you dun have to worry too much lah. Since the things you write are relatively harmless, it is unlikely that you will get truly nasty comments also.

Sleep over it and it will get better when you get up tomorrow. Hang around for a couple more weeks and see how. If you find that the online comments are truly affecting your emotional and psychological well-being then quit loh. It's okay one.

Take care and have a good weekend. :-)

Fearfully Opinionated said...

hey KTM,

somehow i expected you to be the first to comment =P.

yah i don't think the comment was nasty either. it's just that its inarticulate nature started me thinking about how we interact with each other.

don't follow my argument? it's a rant mah. =P

agreed that real life will have nasty people. maybe i haven't even started to experience real life nastiness yet. but unlike real life, you can choose not to blog, but you can't really choose not to work mah.

i don't expect pple to say really nasty stuff at me either. but i wondering, why do people stick around when other pple say nasty stuff at them?

what do people achieve by blogging? what can be achievable by blogging? if we fail to be able to have proper dialogue and all we can possibly achieve is a cathartic release of emotions (admittedly, this COULD be an exaggartaion), then why should i bother putting in the hours to blog? why shold anyone (other than those who seek cathartic emotional release) bother to blog at all?

this is not a rhetorical question. i'm really seeking an answer. or isit i'm the only thin-skinned dude around here?

thanks for your well-wishes. have a good weekend yourself. =)

Anonymous said...

As you have said yourself:

"Purple and Blue. Noob blogger (no more?). Advice and comments still appreciated."

The world is a lot harsher. As you age along the way, you will learn that the human mind is more complex and more real than what the books can teach. Experience it, react and learn.

kwayteowman said...

Fearfully Opinionated,

why do people stick around when other pple say nasty stuff at them?

Because they aren't writing to the fellas who say the nasty stuff.

This is the analogy. Now, the KTM has a KT stall. One thing that he cannot control is the customers who come to eat.

He will just serve anyone who comes to the stall. As it turns out, some will like his KT and some will not. Perhaps the ones who don't will spit it him. Boh pian loh.

At the end of the day, perhaps if he has enough customers who appreciate his KT, then it's all worth it? If dun have or if he thinks that he's making a huge loss, then he will close shop loh. QED. :-)

what do people achieve by blogging? what can be achievable by blogging?

I believe the answer to the first question depends on the individual and his/her reasons for blogging. As for the second question, I believe that it is currently still an open question. :-P

sad man said...

I know why I read blogs - to know how other people feel and know that I am not alone. And I believe in Kitana when she said - with one voice - the government will take notice and make changes to policies. So keep up with your voice. I believe.

bleongcw said...

Fearfully Opinionated,

Here is a quote from Bertrand Russell which might be useful for you when you meet emotive people who are looking out to troll, are not reasonable or make things difficult for you,

“It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go.”
- Bertrand Russell

rojakfellow said...


Wah! You mean u take it so personally one meh :)I dont think that is very healthy.

I am new to blogosphere but I find there are many interesting ppl in this community.

You have chaps like KTM, Kitana, Xenoboy who are really passionate abt what is going on in Singapore and they are doing a very good job of highlighting the key issues to the rest of us.

Then there are people not so clearly categorized or pigeon holed such as the brotherhood.

So my point is simply this, they all have a right to exist - there are so many genres in this community and to expect everyone to agree with you or to be nice all the time is not very realistic.

adminclerk said...

I think variety = diversity. Let me share my POV as a working single parent.

Life can be very stressful. Blogosphere is like a mall. We cannot be reading serious stuff all the time. I like Xenoboy. All my colleagues in office adore darkness. I used to like Mr Brown, but he seems to be churning out the same old thing, I also like Mr Miyagi very much and I think he is very gifted when it comes to photography. I also like other foreign women bloggers based in Australia and one particularly brave woman dying of cancer in Hong Kong.

I think diversity is good because we have more choices.

Please don't flame me, this is just my pov.

Charissa said...

what do people achieve by blogging? what can be achievable by blogging?


I totally understand what you are going though right now. However, after blogging for a longer time, one tends to realise that it's not worth being adversely affected by others.

I think bleongcw summarized this very well with the quote; “It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go.”

The above questions you raised can only be answered by yourself for all of us have different motives for blogging. Personally, I hope to create awareness, voice out and to develop my opinions.

cognitivedissonance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cognitivedissonance said...

Fearfully Opinionated,

Hello. I had a comment to make but the quote it is far too long to post here, so it's on my own blog: "Facing the Challenge of a New Age"

And I didn't think your post was a rant. :)

cognitivedissonance said...

oops, the link. "Facing the Challenge of a New Age"