Thursday, January 29, 2009


Seems like everywhere we turn, there are people who keep adding fuel to fires that should be put out. And I'm not just talking about "we the anonymous". In trying to mount a(n) (ill-advised) defence against the online masses (we are legion...), one has to resort to more than mere name-calling to actually make the grade.

We live in a world that is changed. No longer are we subject to non-thinking acceptance of propaganda. No longer are we happy to lounge around, ignorant, uncaring. No longer are we ready to accept flawed argumentation that passes off as logic in a world where complacency has led us to economic downfall and corruption of our ideals. We live in Obamaland now! Where the positions of power are filled by the smart and the worthy. Where one exhibits his or her intelligence and is not mocked, but celebrated. Where one's worth lies in the amount of hard work that he or she puts in for the money that they are paid. Where elite actually means that one is smarter than the rest, is better at what they do and can offer more solutions. Elitism is more than merely (undeserved) arbitrary wages that are more the result of cronyism and backdoor deals.

It truly is glorious.

But some fools still think that the old ways can work. These are the sloths that cling on to the rotting illusion that when authority speaks, one HAS to listen. That believe that people have not clawed their way into the light of intellectual enlightenment. They are the ones who believe that the status quo still stands and the powers that be are still invulnerable. That it is shocking that "greater mortals" are set ablaze by unhappy peons.

One of these fools is Eugene Wee.

As a defender of the status quo, he has to realise that his argument, in this day and age, can't possibly be anything more than fuel that fans the flames. (Apt, since he's talking about internet flamers...) He can't possibly think that standing on his (rather insignificant and already oft mocked) soapbox The Piece of Crap The New Paper and yelling at the tide isn't going to help much, considering that the tide really wants to burn said paper too. (Doubly so since his tirade tends to be more about credibility) Here's a clue Eugene, and say it with me: It Just Isn't Working.

His assumption is that if he can discredit the blogosphere as nothing more than people frothing in the mouth and baying for blood without a cause (or a clue), his mainstream readers are going to ignore what we are writing and go on with their lives.

Let me let you in on a little secret Eugene: We aren't the problem. We're just the voice.

The man who set his MP on fire. Odds are, he wasn't a blogger. He probably isn't an active participant of the discourse online. He was just an angry citizen. Think of us as the canary in the mine. We aren't really the problem that's going to cause the big explosion, we just chirp out when we sense that there's danger. And trust me when I say this, public sentiment isn't exactly on your "side".

As far as I'm concerned, that's the role that we've taken. We are the watchdogs because the mainstream media's become someone's bitch. We are the loudhailers of public opinion and it would be wise for people to hear what we're saying. I'm not looking to topple the government. It would be a rather deluded fool to believe that that would be in Singapore's best interests. But there are things that we aren't really happy with, and if the powers that be don't listen, then this unhappiness will grow. Where that leads, I shudder to think.

I have children and I would love for my homeland to be the country that would provide them the best for their future. I love my country. I am a patriot, in ways that even I would never fully comprehend. And when I blog about people (I use the word in it's technical sense) like Charles Chong using terms like "Lesser Mortals", I shudder because it scares the crap out of me. I don't want the bad old days. I want economic prosperity. But when I see Temasek losing our money, I wonder why that is...and I'm not provided answers. I want leaders I can believe in. But when I look at our present Prime Minister with his "mandate", I know that I have lost the faith. And all that worries me.

That's why I blog. I give voice to my own uncertainties. And there are smarter people out there who do the same. We're not looking to incite violence. We're not asking for social upheaval. We just want the powers that be to listen to what we have to say because our concerns are valid. And we're doing a lot more than what you're doing, Mr Eugene Wee.

A whole lot more.

So when a fool dumps fuel into a fire that already burns, one wonders what his agenda is. Who is sowing the actual discord in our society?

Because this is all a very serious exercise. We're speaking about our concerns, Mr Wee. Just what in the hell are you doing?

THE online flaming brigade was certainly busy over the last two weeks. The target was senior civil servant Tan Yong Soon who wrote about his family holiday in Paris.

Then Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Charles Chong became a target when he was quoted as using the term 'lesser mortals' to describe Mr Tan's critics.

Online comments typically are hard-hitting and vulgar at times. Everyone, it seems, gets a big dose of courage when they wear a Harry Potter-style invisible cloak. Hiding behind fake names and untraceable e-mail addresses, it's easy to act like a warrior.

Online lynch mobs, of course, exist everywhere.

Last year, AFP reported that Internet thug attacks have become so nasty in the US that a new breed of reputation managers had emerged to help clients who have become victims of character assassination.

So, is the online mob a boon or bane?

Anonymity itself is not the enemy. In the case of corporate or government whistleblowers, anonymity encourages people to come forward with essential information that may reveal wrong doing .

The media, too, sometimes relies on anonymous sources when reporting sensitive stories. This usually happens when these sources agree to give up important information, which is otherwise unavailable, only if their names are not revealed due to fear of reprisal or embarrassment.

But a crucial point is that these anonymous sources are known to someone, like a reporter, and efforts are made to verify the information supplied.

But online critics are largely faceless. You can't tell if it's just a small group or an individual kicking up a storm, or if there is widespread discontent.

The value of online opinions rise considerably when people are prepared to show their faces and stand up for what they believe in.

If you won're not brave enough to put your name or face to strong views, others are unlikely to take them seriously.

Don't blame 'Big Brother' for not identifying yourself. See the punchy comments in the letters to newspapers. These readers have the guts to speak their minds openly.

Why can't more do the same in cyberspace? Blogs like, and have names to them. And Messrs Alex Au, Eugene Yeo and Choo Zheng Xi have earned themselves a growing number of readers.

As for the anonymous bunch, think of them as bacteria who feed on dead plants or animals. Online flamers feed on those who are 'dead' when public opinion turns against them because of some act or omission.

The flamers play a part in breaking down issues and dissipating pent-up anger. Their rants might lead others to disclose information that might expose hidden practices.

Just like good and bad bacteria

Like the bacteria that decompose tissue and nourish the soil, there is some good in having such online critics.

But there are also vicious online critics who can destroy reputations with baseless accusations.

They are like the bacteria that cause diseases in plants and animals, making them sick or even killing them. One bacterium caused the bubonic plague or the Black Death (so named because of the colour of the victim's face after death).

TB, anthrax, cholera, food poisoning, and pneumonia are all the work of ugly bacteria.

So, Mr Online Critic, please decide what kind of bacteria you want to be.

Keep your anonymity, if you lack the guts, but play a useful role - like the bacteria that eats oil ( a big help to clean up oil spills), and the bacteria used in sewage treatment plants to purify water.

Many bacteria are harmless when they are contained. For example, the bacteria, E. coli, live in the intestines of people, helping them digest food as well as producing vitamins.

But when E Coli escapes, it can contaminate water and food. The same can happen when the wild comments of faceless critics get into the mainstream.

They can wind up leaving nothing more than a pile of s***.

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Blogger sandy said...

"...Eugene Yeo and Choo Zheng Xi have earned themselves a growing number of readers"
Eugene Wee, who's he? Another MIW wannabe hoping to jump on the gravy train?

Fri Jan 30, 06:27:00 pm 2009  
Blogger Kaffein said...

Really good write-up. Keep it coming!


Fri Jan 30, 07:04:00 pm 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eugene Yeo and Choo Zheng Xi...Er who are they? Heard of the Brotherhood Press, Just Stuff, Mr brown, Mr Wang, and even YB but who is Eugene Yeo and who the hell is Choo zeng shi?

Fri Jan 30, 10:00:00 pm 2009  

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