Saturday, May 10, 2008

A theory as to why Singaporean bloggers are so "bo liao" (loose translation: insipid and inane act)

Trawling tomorrow.sg is like my way of remaining connected to the 'real' Singapore.

As I scan through and read the posts, I'll start to plug-in to the real world angst and misery that my fellow citizens put up with on a daily basis. After a while you'll get a general impression that the actions of rude Permanent Residents, offensive Singaporeans, perceived personal slights and unjust behaviour of People in Power (i.e. corporate Singapore, government, etc.) takes up a lot of our cerebral processes. We sound like really angry people.

For the record, I do read xiaxue.blogspot.com. I get a real kick out of reading her blogs. Its so bad, its actually quite good. I am an apologist by nature, so pardon me if I defend the attention seeking tart. But xiaxue has succeeded in carving out a niche for herself as a shock (schlock?)/celebrity blogger. Her online persona is her brand. The cost is that for better or for worse, I can never take her seriously. Its a choice that xiaxue's going to have to live with for the rest of her life.

Sometimes I ask myself, why do Singaporeans whine so much? Is Life really that bad?

Are we blind to the fact that Singaporeans today enjoy the highest levels of healthcare, one of the world's most admired social security networks, easy and readily accessible education and training centres in South East Asia. A committed, cohesive government. Not to mention, a GDP per capita which is on par with some European cities.

Singapore's problems aren't life threatening. Our neighbours don't threaten with missile strikes or rail against us. They are envious of our wealth and good fortune however, but in general, we're not that bad. Most of our real problems are caused by affluence - rising cost of living, unequal distribution of wealth, falling birth rates, etc.

So where's the beef, Singaporean? Or is it all bull?

Maybe Singaporeans whine so much is because in general we're disappointed with the way life turned out for us. And so we fixate on our problems so much so that all we see are our miseries.

Perhaps, we're a society so addicted to stimuli, we nitpick and tear ourselves and others apart for a problem to solve, some dilemma to resolve.

I would like to think that the overall noise we get in blogs, media and newspaper is a sign of people actively seeking channels of communication. The real signal is that Singaporean bloggers represent the people who want to talk but want to do it without attracting too much real-world attention to ourselves. (If we entertain or approach random strangers and talk about this or that problem, they would probably think you mad or at least delusional; but its ok online cause really, you read it cos you wanted to.)

Whenever Singaporeans such as myself 'blog', we're actually throwing a carefully crafted and opinionated message in a bottle in the hopes of reaching the ears of some distant and faraway reader. That's the intention - what the message is, and the form it takes is dependent on the writer's taste, preferences and indulgences. Thus, we get two extremes in blog posts - high quality, well crafted posts from erudite, mature bloggers (which are kinda hard to appreciate, and even harder to find) and big shock, high entertainment value, mass market oriented, attention seeking harlots.

Which leads me to believe that Singaporeans are in fact lonely people with too much time. You write because you are bored and that you want to communicate but no one's listening at 3 am in the morning. When viewed as such, for all our wealth and good fortune, we're actually quite sad. Next time you read xiaxue, or find some revolting piece of blogging material, see past the anger and bile and rage and recognize the fact that its just someone in a lot of pain.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you living in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

This only says that you are as "bo liao", lonely and have too much time as those people. Don't you think that you are whining about people who whines?

Agagooga said...

The gripes against 'whining' are overblown.

Surely the ceaseless quest for excellence is laudable.

What was the old Productivity slogan?

Never stop till you are better, and your better your best

Or someting like that.

andyhardy said...

the following are the main points of this post:

1. Singaporeans whine. A lot.

2. Singaporeans whine disproportionately to the actual level of suffering.

3. Why do Singaporean bloggers whine?

4. They whine because they're lonely.

5. If they're lonely, then we should empathise with them.

6. What is implied is that: we should cut them some slack.

I live in Singapore. I am overseas studying because NUS/NTU/SMU didn't accept my application.

I WANT to go back to Singapore because that is my home. I WANT to go back to the shit that all of you whiners complain about. Strange isn't it?

I belong to the lower income class of Singapore.

I write well. That's why I sound upper class.

Cobalt Paladin said...

Maybe you should visit ping.sg and you can read what we (Singapore bloggers) write about every day. Tomorrow.sg published entries which are approved by a group of editors. Maybe the editors prefer to approve whiny posts and thus leave you the impression that Singapore bloggers are whiny?

It will be myopic to think that entries in tomorrow.sg represent the Singapore bloggers. :p

maxibon said...

touch down mother fuckassssss!!!!!!!


singaporeans hate singaporeans. pwnageeeeeeeee!!!


social problem that EVERYONE think is okay. sikeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

If you are used to 3 meals a day....

and all of a sudden you only get 1 meal a day .... I think you will whine too.

of course, if you really want to compare to other countries where people have only 1 meal every 2 days, or worst once a week or worst ... eating roots .... I guess one can only have to shut up for having 1 meal a day :(

that's reality .. we have to compare apple to apple ... unless of course you are NOT born to start with :)

See Miss Lee for English Lesson said...

Why are you whining about Singaporeans whining about whining PIP(people in power).

1. Singaporeans whine. A lot.
Because A lot of grievance we suffered are not addressed.Like why local students here are so stupid.

2. Singaporeans whine disproportionately to the actual level of suffering.
They are stupid that why you need us.

3. Why do Singaporean bloggers whine?
Same question twice so read above answers.

4. They whine because they're lonely.
Not With the influx of PRC and other nationalities Pros.

5. If they're lonely, then we should empathize with them.Which is again redundant same reason above

6. What is implied is that: we should cut them some slack.Why need to We can always import more talents like me

I used tolive in Singapore. I am overseas studying because NUS/NTU/SMU didn't accept my application.Too bad they accepted mine 5 years ago

I WANT to go back to Singapore because that is my home. I WANT to go back to the shit that all of you whiners complain about. Strange isn't it? You are STRANGER

I used to belong to the lower income class of Singapore.

I write well. That's why I sound upper class.
C- Brush up on your English

andyhardy said...

For the purposes of clarification:

See Miss Lee, your corrections are incorrect.

I live in Singapore. I spend some parts of my time in Australia, but I have to go back to Singapore. That is where my home and my fiancee and the rest of my family is.

I identify with the lower income classes of Singapore by virtue of the fact that my mom belongs to that class. I still live in the same 3 bed room apartment. So it isn't past tense.

I think its best that you take your own advice. Find a certain Miss Lee and learn to read critically again.

The point I make is that Singaporean bloggers are in pain. that's all, and that we should empathise with their hurts.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Anonymous said...

I can see why your post riled up so much negative sentiments; you just slapped the faces of so many Singaporean bloggers.

But thanks for your rather interesting post, which I concur with. I am currently at an international conference overseas and for the first time have spoken to many representatives from 3rd world countries in Africa. Dude they have so many bad-assed problems there that I am grateful for what the Singapore government has done for us.

That being said, we have to put things in a local perspective, that the problems we face back home are by no means trivial. It's good to blog to initiate discussion, but just stopping there and admitting that nothing further can be done is rather pessimistic. It would be nice if someone could for a change do something. Change is not impossible.

thegreatsze said...

You're very Frank, Mr Hardy. :)

I agree with you that Singaporeans whine disproportionately, considering our relatively blessed lot in life.

first anonymous: You assume that only internal opinions are relevant. If the UN says that Darfur has a poor human rights record, do we doubt it?

second anonymous: Hardy is complaining about people who are whining despite a relatively good life. He did not assert, in his post, that he was against *all* kinds of whining - just disproportionate levels of it. There is no hypocrisy.

agagooga: Are you being farcical?

third anonymous: The problem with the human brain is that it is given over to relative, rather than absolute comparisons. So we will always think in terms of past prices / values / quantities ("wah this was only $5 last week!") instead of generating new possibilities ("hmm what can I do with $5 this week instead?").

In the same way, we tend to compare our living standards with our betters, instead of trying to locate - and be satisfied with - ourselves on an absolute scale. The truth is we do have a lot to be happy about (e.g. most of us are literate, our flats are well maintained, etc) - if we could only see past this relativistic fog.

see miss lee for english lesson: Hardy has been kind to you. You are obviously a moron, and a grammatically-challenged one at that.

Anonymous said...

It's all a matter of expectations. If we were to compare ourselves to war-torn regions in say, Africa (I don't know.. Rwanda? Somalia?) then yes, I agree we probably have a pretty blessed life.

But why should we seek to compare ourselves to the lowest, worst off people on the planet and think we're okay? Why can't we compare ourselves to the first world nations and talk about how we are lacking to progress towards a civilized first world nation?

I think that often legitimate issues are brought up, but often, as is always the case, emotions clouds objective analysis and most blog posts end up turning into rants which appear to be whiny, emo, ranty which people don't take seriously. However, the underlying root problem IS present, and by blogging, at least discerning readers would (hopefully) be able to read between the hate and learn about the social problems people face here.

The fact is that we're so used to the PIP telling us that we're a "first world nation" that we invariably take a good hard look at first world nations and then at our own nation. THEN the whining begins.

So... like I said, it's probably mostly a matter of expectation of the (good) quality of life that lead to the incessant rants online.

It doesn't help that with every passing year and every increased influx of foreign "talent", I would daresay that I've had a better quality of life 10 years ago than I do now. Sure, my income (or GDP per capita or whatever) has increased, but the intangible detriments of living in a massively overpopulated island-city with a public facilities (public pools, public areas like malls, public transport systems) unable to cope with the burgeoning population leads me to wonder if it's truly worth the trade off. I shudder to think that we're actually aiming to increase our population by another 150-200%.

*NOTE: I haven't really editted the above post for precise grammar so pardon me for any mistakes.

wyngit said...

Ok.

So you decided to join the blogsphere, start deriding everyone who's in it, start attacking xiaxue for *no reason* whatsoever, and finally claim that you "write well".

I'm really sorry... but you don't. And it's not in the sense of grammatical errors/spelling/construction etc. We all know it's the internet and no one proof reads their blogposts 10 times before writing.

But your base assumptions are just so horribly bad. And you simply fail to grasp the reason behind this "whining".

There are tonnes of things wrong with this post, and we could go by paragraph by paragraph, but I'll just focus on one: Lonely people with too much time as the conclusion? You have *got* to be kidding me.

That makes the *entire* New York Times, the entire crew of National Public Radio, everyone with an opinion of their own, who writes about the ills of societies, philosophers, social scientists, economists "lonely with too much time."

The cost of this post is that for better or worst, I can never take you seriously. It's a choice that you're going to have to live with for the rest of your blogosphere life.

andyhardy said...

dear wyngit,

thanks for making your points.

I have two points to clarify:

(1) I like reading xiaxue. I did not attack her. In fact as stated in my post, I am an apologist by nature and I am actually on her side. In fact, I remember typing: "... so pardon me for defending the attention seeking tart."

I do concede that tart's a bit harsh.

next, the post reads "A theory..."

A theory is meant to be refuted. You're meant to disagree or agree depending on some set of condition.

I set out to come up with a reason why Singaporean bloggers sometimes whine disproportionately to the amount of actual suffering.

And if you've read the post you'll realize that I am actually apologizing for them.

I stated that Singaporeans sound really angry.

And I said, its a good thing they're out in force, typing their fingers away on blogs, hoping to get a good rant in.

They blog, instead of having a real human communication like talking because they can't find anyone else to listen to them.

If you can't find someone to talk to when u have to, that makes you a pretty lonely person right? Or am I wrong again?

my dear, wyngit, thank you for reading my post and thank you for contributing!

Anonymous said...

I dont much abt this discussion. I dont even know whether what you say is right or wrong, but I will have to disagree with you when you say most SG bloggers are Boh liao. As in my University which a post grad annex, all of us regularly log on to the Brudderhud press, tell me, if its so Bo liao, how come even our Ang Moh prof are reading them?

Ong Lei Kiet

Anonymous said...

IF I am not mistaken, I believe originates comes from your country. I believe BOH LIAH means without merit or lacking in substance.

Perhaps you can tell me who are the people who researched and wrote this?

http://intelligentsingaporean.wordpress.com/2006/09/21/why-i-would-like-to-leave/#comment-33673

What they say abt you Asians may be true after all, you cant think for Jack squat and you're deaf and blind.

No wonder the smart one are all leaving the country, both the real and it seems now even in the virtual.

andyhardy said...

Dear Lei Kiat,

Read the post first.

Because you claim to belong to the post grad annex, therefore, I presume you're a post grad. I will hold you accountable and demand a much higher standard of erudition and intellectual quality.

I posed a question: Why Singaporean Bloggers are Boh Liao?

Boh Liao defined as "insipid and inane act".

Why did I say their blog posts are "insipid and inane"?

Because they're mostly complaints.

I noticed Singaporeans complain a lot. And disproportionately. And often with a lot of vitriol. Laced with rage, what not.

I don't understand why we Singaporeans bitch and whine and are so angry about so many things.

I came up with one hypothesis. That perhaps they're lonely.

Personally, I disdain your description of your caucasian professor as ang moh. That has deragotary connotations. We live in the 21st Century brother - you're exhibiting an Asian brand of racism, so please stop doing that.

What you 'post grad annex' people do at Brutherhood press is your business. Send us a link. I'll check it out. If its got intellectual merit, I'll put up a link here and say that its good to read.

But honestly, Lei Kiat, in the name of God, and for the sake of our country and the rakyat, please learn to see past the trees.

Read between the proverbial lines. Understand that there's an intent behind every post. Mine has a very sad meaning.

My countrymen are sad and lonely that's why they blog.

andyhardy said...

Dear Anonymous No.s 6.

I read the original post at http://intelligentsingaporean.wordpress.com/2006/09/21/why-i-would-like-to-leave/#comment-33673

I deigned not to trawl through the comments.

Kitana's got an opinion. She prefers Canada over Singapore. That's her choice. She's made it, so she'll live with it.

I want to return to my country.

I don't know why, mebbe its because of my upbringing, but where I come from we look after each other.

I have a country. It is humble and not as fancy as other people's but it is still my island home.

I am Asian. And I don't really like your tone and description of us Asians. Please stop.

If you're smart enough to read and write and navigate the internet, you're smart enough to know the difference between making a point and being an outright racist.

Thank you for reading : )

Anonymous said...

HI


Who cares what Kitana thinks? I believe the issue relates to what Miss Ong brought up. You, the author claim, "I noticed Singaporeans complain a lot. And disproportionately. And often with a lot of vitriol. Laced with rage, what not." She and others have given you information to suggest they do not do so without valid cause or reason.

I think what you should do is take up the issue of why their questions are seldom even given the benefit of a hearing. if you notice there are some ppl out there who actually believe they are closer to the Kingdom of God that to man and earth. They dont answer questions. When they do, they will just show us all how good they are at selective hearing and siam here and there etc.

I am of course refering to this whole proposal to set up a non govt body to monitor blogosphere.

If you notice so many questions have been raised online, but consistently the same ppl who claim to be able to protect our rights are behaving in exactly the same way our govt usually handles thorny questions.

They Bo chap, Bo liau and Bo Sia.

andyhardy said...

Dear Anonymous No.s 7,

good point.

and noted.

thanks again for reading the post.

*i've just done exactly what the People in Power are doing*

Why? Because I have other priorities.

Now extend the idea to the people that whiny singaporean bloggers want to reach to.

NOW THINK.

Why don't they address your concerns?

Maybe, like you and me, they have their own priorities as well as space, time constraints.

For better or for worse, unless we understand their agenda and learn to get along, we can't get anywhere.

Thanks for reading. This time I really mean it.

Anonymous said...

Adik,

You are very confused. Pls dont try to do an stand impression of one of our ministers, who regularly uses alot of words to say something which actually adds up to nothing.

You said. "Maybe, like you and me, they have their own priorities as well as space, time constraints." Then very simple, how can they do a good job of representing us then? If you dont have the time or opportunity, then dont do it!

You said, "For better or for worse, unless we understand their agenda and learn to get along, we can't get anywhere." What is there to understand budak, are you deaf, blind and also stupid? Look around you in blogosphere, so many questions, as we like to say belambak!

If they cannot even pick up and answer the valid questions, then you forget abt the whole issue of understanding and getting along. You seem to be very confused abt how it all works, its not a one way street, you know.

Din

andyhardy said...

Dear Din,

I presume you are older, and therefore wiser.

I asked why Singaporean bloggers whine so much, and i said they were lonely.

I also wondered if their suffering were real, imagined, absolute or is it all relative.

And if its all absolute, then why do they choose to express themselves online in such a sad, angry tone?

The Government does its job of administering to present needs and guiding the people's future in the direction that would best serve the collective needs. I say need, not want.

We need to understand what the Government thinks we - the rakyat, from the very poorest to the very rich - need.

As an organization, they have space and time constraints. They can't be everywhere at once. And they can only deal with certain issues at the same time.

We, the rakyat and the government, have to work together. To come to terms that we live in a brave, new world (to quote Aldous Huxley) where the answers are not as straightforward or as comforting.

Co-operate and we shall all reap the benefits. Disinter, disinform, disaggregate and we will all perish.

So rather than hang on to anti-establishment ideas, why not seek to come to terms that the present powers are just doing their absolute best and that the answers aren't just as simple anymore.

It doesn't make sense to fight when we can all prosper if we fight as one.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

PS: You do know that we all want a better, brighter future for our kids right?

kwayteowman said...

After a while you'll get a general impression that the actions of rude Permanent Residents, offensive Singaporeans, perceived personal slights and unjust behaviour of People in Power (i.e. corporate Singapore, government, etc.) takes up a lot of our cerebral processes. We sound like really angry people.

Please have no illusions that bloggers represent the general population. They do not. :-) They only pretend that they speak for the masses. :-P

The KTM has interacted briefly with xiaxue before. The KTM must say that she's quite brilliant. Only pretending to be a bimbo. KTM doesn't read her blog though. :-)

Whenever Singaporeans such as myself 'blog', we're actually throwing a carefully crafted and opinionated message in a bottle in the hopes of reaching the ears of some distant and faraway reader.

Can you share with the KTM exactly what you hope to achieve? Why do you care to craft an opinionated message for some distant and faraway reader? Are you lonely too? :-)

I am overseas studying because NUS/NTU/SMU didn't accept my application.

That's quite a shame, 'cos the KTM thinks you write well. :-) You have the potential to make a good lawyer actually.

Without prejudice, you must also be quite "boh liao" to write this post and pick on the entire blogosphere. Looking for some exercise eh? ;-P

The KTM admires your attitude. If you're *really* very free, come and chit chat with the KTM lah. :-)

sandy said...

Oh, I get it. Martin Luther King was mother of all "bo liaos". He wasn't satisfied living the richest country in the world, the largest democracy. We all should have a photo of the Dragon Prince and/or his Father in our living rooms. Without them, tomorrow will not be possible. Never mind the CPF is not sufficient for retirement after half a century of working hard, never mind the HDB flat which was once sold at $20,000 is asking for $200,000 today. Air is still free (or is it?)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Hardy

3 bedroom apartment .. private or hdb? if hdb, 3 bedroom =>4/5 room flat.

Assuming you are not on a scholarship, u could still afford an overseas education.

Hardly "lower income class".

"I write well." ... confidence ... I like! just what SG need. come home soon. :-)

NoName

kwayteowman said...

NoName,

Yo! Long time no hear from you. Fancy running into you here. :-)

Eh, your blog like got password protection now. Perhaps invite the KTM so that the KTM can come visit you? :-P

Hope all is well with you and your family. :-)

"I write well." ... confidence ... I like! just what SG need. come home soon.

Yah, KTM also likes. :-)

andyhardy said...

Dear KTM,

My agenda?

To annoy and heckle bloggers who rant a lot.

Especially the anti-government ones.

Wah, that one damn shiok to disturb.

In singapore, everything can discuss, but why be so emo and negative about things? Like macam we all live in gulags or ghetto like that.

(Mr Hardy attempts to speak non-chim english.)

Anonymous said...

You said "As I scan through and read the posts, I'll start to plug-in to the real world angst and misery that my fellow citizens put up with on a daily basis."

Please note that what you plug into at Tomorrow is NOT the "real world" of Singapore.

The blogging whiners/losers constitute a terribly tiny minority of the general Singapore population, who are down-and-out losers forced to seek therapy by whining about their sad lives online.

The platform also allows the losers to find fellow losers to commiserate, so the losers can find solidarity for their loserly lives.

The majority of Singaporeans are not loserly.

Anoymous #329 said...

I think to know if Singaporeans are complain kings or queens, you have to ask the expats...

What I do notice is that Singaporeans are very defensive. BTW I'm Singaporean also :-)

cheap hotels in singapore said...

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really love the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also engaged! I’m sure you had joy writing this article.