Greetings readers. It’s been a while.
Let’s get right to it. I study sociology. Sociology tells us that everything is subjective. History, narratives, facts, non-facts. All are subject to the work of authors and owners; all cannot thereby be objective reality. Reality is always framed; represented.
Therefore, sociology lets us view the larger, structural predeterminates of our lives. We sometimes question ourselves if we truly have individual agency, or is everything controlled by structure. The answer to that is of course (hello Foucault), power.
But I digress. What does this all mean for the average person? When history becomes just a story you choose to believe, when the victors are simply the people you choose to take the side of, when losers are just the Other.
What does this mean for Singaporeans? With the advent of social media and other, less regulated or “propagandized” media which serve to show us scenes behind the official “story”; which serve to feed us separate accounts of our history, and air the dirty laundry of politics in Singapore, there seems to be an air of dissent within some Singaporeans.
Of course, as with lewd perversions, these things mostly happen on the internet. Similarly, practitioners of said lewd perversions are often brought to prominence on the internet. That makes consumers of said lewd perversions people who have access to the internet.
That means us, the self-entitled youth.
Often, we simply believe these other representations of history and “truth” just because of its sensational factor- the fact that knowing these “new” narratives imbue us with some sort of unknown power that makes us some sort of martyr against the system.
So we “revolt”. Online forums hating on the PAP, upon CPF, upon alcohol bans and generally against every little thing the government does.
Yes, it is necessary to develop a critical eye and that it is our prerogative on what to believe or what reality to construct for ourselves. But sometimes, it is also important to consider what realities others have constructed for themselves, and not be quick to be a colossal anus and dismiss everything which is the “official”.
To have a critical eye is not to criticise, but rather to recognise the mechanisms behind the ordinary; the everyday; the common sense.
To denounce certain (or all) policies as a conspiracy that would doom us all would be to belittle those who are actually constructing reality as their “truth”.
To simply be critical is not good form for the sociologist. Neither is it good form for the educated amongst us. Knowledge is a double-edged sword. Using it wisely will double its benefits, but be a dumb fool and watch the ridicule multiply as well.
This Chinese New year, I’ve had the fortune of meeting people who have offered me unique perspectives on the state and its policies.
Perhaps not exactly unique, but definitely perspectives that I’ve forgotten. Forgotten in the midst of all this education which have made me question everything in the wrong way- from being overtly-critical (and I mean criticising) of everything “official”.
Sometimes, it is good to take a step back, and revisit things. Education doesn’t make you any greater than the uneducated. It is just empty calories; pretty frosting on top of a cake.
Thinking that you know everything about the plight or experiences of a particular group of people and actually hearing them can be a humbling experience.
Listen. Shut the fuck up and listen.
Happy Chinese New Year