IS THE INTERNET DUMBING DOWN SINGAPORE? – A STUDY IN IRRELEVANCE VS RELEVANCE

July 18, 2008

 

 

Is our consciousness is frittering away in the digital age!  Going once! Going twice! Leeching away inexorably proclaims the press. Going thrice! Our ever diminishing consciousness espoused as one of the great extinctions of our age; marketed as the main reason why our net is increasing becoming a dystopian zoo; pronounced agent provocateur at least 3 times a week and devil thrice just for good measure (just in case some of us may be suffering from short term memory loss) responsible for everything ranging from dyslexia to perpetual masturbation.

 

Yes, my friends how many times have we all heard it before? Life is increasingly dumbed down; these days instead of deep spirited narratives; we all have to make do with McDonaldised sound bites; kids can’t remain still any more without medication. Neither can they bear out in good olde fashion ramrod style the pleasure of sitting patiently through a text; the written word can longer compete against the allure of the internet; the cultural authority of politicians, bishops, teachers, parents and koh yok peddlers have all been drowned out by the din of the electronic apotheosis of mass culture; not even the Pope can get his message across the traditional way; even the holy see needs a website these days just to give out virtual communion to stay afloat!

 

We are doomed! Let’s covert Parliament into another food court! Turn NDP into a soap sud rav party. It’s the end of the world! Our brains are evaporating like camphor! Or is there something else working mysteriously behind the scenes?

 

You know what? I do agree some what with this dystopian take. Just a tad. For one I happen to belong to one of those who regularly mourn the eclipse of the cultural authority that literature once possessed, and I certainly rue the onset of an age that’s so anxious for instant gratification; it even threatens my own world.

 

Take the case of the invasion of ipods for example. Just take a look at how compact as a pill music seems to be feeding the frenzy for i-and-myself and no one else – singular culture.

 

These days I don’t even know why we bother with the spoken word, sign language and cue cards would do just as well.

 

The advent of technology is starting to look more like mass hearing impairment instead of mass liberation. We are becoming so open minded, our brains are spilling out!

 

My point is it’s no longer just a theoretical possibility Einstein’s end times predications may have dawned very suddenly on us;

 

“When technology exceeds humanity; that’s a sure sign the end of the world is upon us.”

 

This leads us to consider do we need to craft a system of etiquette to manage ourselves and how we relate to new technologies? Do we need to reclaim our loss lives? I mean, if one reads the newspapers these days; it seems the internet age is corroding every aspect of our delicate unspoken relationship; parents don’t even talk to their kids anymore as the former are perpetually glued to online games; even politicians are complaining, no one is interested to hear their save people and planet message any longer; instead these days they seem to be more preoccupied with crafting strategies to stop the likes of Forrest Gump from getting into the white house. Yes, the advent of the internet these days seems to be a scratchy rendition of “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all have some reservations concerning the internet which we aren’t really comfortable with.

 

It’s a pressing concern especially when we all consider how even interaction has been redefined by the digital age; these days, it’s become quite normal to study, blog surf and even have comfort your friend on the loss of a love one. It’s even normal to force music on a whole carriage of people. To walk into a shop purchase something and not even bother to break off a mobile conversation. Is technology taking over our life? Do we need to press the pause button and reclaim our “loss” existence? Get out from our sound proofed chrysalis, and reconnect with the world? Or is this just another edition of “new” dressed up as “old?”

 

Are the cultural icons of authority such as politicians, pastors and parents simply lamenting the passing of an age that never once even waxed and waned? Is all this merely a figment of a crie de couer that harks all the way back to some golden age that only existed in the firment of the imagination. Aren’t they just plain bovine and woefully inept like the dodo bird, a three-foot-tall, flightless bird that simply went extinct, as it couldn’t quite draw the analogy between a loud rent of a musket with the whole idea of how it dwindling numbers? Isn’t this the same litany we keep hearing from newspapers, candle makers and derelict politicians who keep wondering why the world can’t stay still while the rest of us busy ourselves with the whole idea of progress? They just can’t seem to prosper in this new digital age can they? Neither can do them seem to know how to craft ever imaginative ways to recruit us into their narratives?

 

Perhaps instead of lecturers lamenting why these days their lecture theaters are half filled; or politicians wondering no end why they seem to be better at inducing comatose inspired apathy; instead of an engaged audience who are genuinely interested in politics; they should really stand back and take a long look at themselves in the mirror?

 

Is it really their fault, in the way newspapers, mechanical typewriters and brycream is going to the way of the dodo bird? Or does the problem really lie with us; the consumers; the readers, the writers and commentators?

 

If the truth be known; I don’t for one moment believe this mass leeching of our consciousness is new as much as it remains an old and even trite story; just as papyrus bowed out to paper; the wood block to the printing press; TV to radio and now the MSM to the internet; what I wonder has really changed?

 

Except the omnipresent reality; the only constant in past, present and probably the future is change itself. And perhaps the erudite quarter that keeps on lamenting about the good olde days.

 

One thing remains certain; as the internet continues to reshape our understanding of the known world in ways we are only beginning to comprehend, we can no more undo the internet anymore than we can hammer our keyboards into ploughshares; it would appear the new competitive landscape suggest the only reliable way to move forward would be craft ever more imaginative ways to stay ahead of the electronic marketing manifesto by jumping on the bandwagon of the cult of endless hype and spin.

 

But I suspect for every action. There’s also an equal counter reaction, one that may even harbor an unexpected ironical twist of redemption; as questions such as; where does this New Realism come from? Where is it really going? What are its demands and how will it shape our future lives? And is it authentic or fake?

 

Continues to grow louder; so will the ranks of the disillusioned as they begin to sense they may have been short changed by the false promises of the marketing manifesto.

 

In my opinion there is only so much the endless contrived reality the celebrity deifying hegemony of modern society can offer. For instance: there can never be a real substitute for quality. I am not talking about newsprint quality; that’s just self enfacing hypocrisy; if you asked me.

 

I talking about the real versus fake movement; the return to slow home cooked food instead of a big Mac; holidays which reunite people to their core values instead of rushing here and there. And of course real and deep spirit change as opposed to just sugary panaceas.

 

My feel remains, no amount of hype and spin is going to be able to change the underpinnings which makes up reality.

 

In my view as we barrel further into the thick of the age of fake, real will eventually have acquire the allure one usually associates with the rare and precious.

 

It stands the test of reason; in the age of contrived reality; the authentic will be an imperiled species and so it too will ultimately command a premium and will always be highly sought after.

 

Fundamental core human values such as selfless service, brotherly love and excellence will always remain timeless; they will always be modern in any age. They have to be; otherwise it will all mean nothing.

 

This exchange took place in one of the Great Hall proceedings when Darkness was challenged by the Arullien Consul as to why the Brotherhood Press does not consider writing shorter articles. This relatively unknown excerpt piece has been reconstituted by the FILB.

 

Darkness – Order of Purple reply : “To the question posed by the right honorable gentlemen; providing I remain the director of publications; the brotherhood press will continue to write only 3 to 4 pages wind bag articles. This is the way we shall go. If the world decides to compress 3 to 4 pages into one sentence, then I say let them do it. We will never follow them!

If they want to discover the secrets of the universe by studying the compressed words at a back of a chewing gum wrapper, then I say; be my guest! Again, I see no compelling reason why we should even follow them!

Gentlemen we must stay the course and let me tell you why; as no man has successfully managed to convey the meaning of what is usually written in a 3 to 4 pages article into a single sentence; such heavenly economy of scale of compressed writing simply does not exist gentlemen.

Except perhaps in the ranks of the company the right honorable gentlemen likes to keep (house laughs)

Censure from the speaker of the house: Senator Darkness you will desist from insulting the consul!

Darkness: Why should I do that when the right honorable gentlemen seems to be doing a better job of insulting himself by tabling this stupid motion? Sit down before you fall down Sir! (laughter from the house)

Darkness continues with time given by special sessions:

Gentlemen I tell you this: knowing when to go your own way and not to follow the crowd even if its fashionable or garners widespread appeal is wisdom. We shall leave the latter to the world and do not be surprise one day if all that makes up what they have to say is one or two sentences in a blog. Is this what you really call the fellowship of the minds? Who then may I respectfully ask the right honorable gentlemen are we communicating too when things have come to that? How would we then differ from the Stalinist, Facist and Rogues who once managed to successfully cram in volumes into one or two slogans just to run a country? Senators, I tell you what the right honorable gentlemen is asking of me is nothing short of the sovietization of the Brotherhood Press. Our job here is not to rubberstamp soundbites. Or even give them the seal of approval or mark them out Kosher for mass consumption. The cult of mass of assimilation is already doing that with TV and Barney. If one cares to peruse around the real problems of our world is not due to a shortage of happy soundbites that claims to cure everything from stagnation to slipperly bathroom tiles; there has never ever been a lack of happy tunes in this regard Sirs. 

But this can offers us nothing except panaceas; real beliefs; real ideas; and what constitutes value must be able to withstand fire. As the saying goes; gold is never afraid of fire.

In this regard our work must always be the business of searching out real meaning beyond mere dictionary meaning; winnowing reason; it is the task of taking a word; the property in the mind and to splice it to infinitely smaller pieces so that we may understand it for what it really is; nothing more or less. Free from the marketing manisfesto; free from the endless hype and spin; free from the pr-soaked flavor of dizzying postmodern innovations!

Senators do you now see why this motion must be slapped down on the first reading with such vigor? I cannot tell you how dangerous a motion this is. Once it is allowed to pass through the gates. We are no more brothers…this will not happen in my watch… the role of leades is to set the pace and not to follow blindly what may or may not be the flavor of the month. The right honorable gentleman should consider going into the fashion business to slake his thirst for spurious reform. (laughter from the house)”

Darkness 2006

 

Darkness 2006 on a speech given in the Great Hall to the Senators in Primus Aldentes Prime / Source: Hansard IXX / Pg 3,009 

 

 The Brotherhood Press has ceased all publication / This is a reconstituted article based on postings, comments and speeches once posted in the strangelands / ASICS / PBK – This has been brought to you by the FILB (The Free Internet Library) – The Brotherhood Press 2008

[Is it really“Deregulating The Net?” Do consider bookmarking this excellent site to keep abreast of the  Internet Deregulation debate – FILB 2008]

Do check out this piece about “charity,” that the FILB unearthed in the PBK threads. It was almost lost for good, but we were able to retrieve it from the waveback internet archive machine. I wrote to them and it seems much more has been archived. The FILB will be working to deliver all these little known reads to you.

A HEART TOO FAR – A LAMENT ABOUT CHARITY AND GIVING

July 20, 2008

 

 

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