If the internet is of any guide, it seems as though Singaporeans are by and large, angry people. Trawling the internet, one cannot help but come across vast amounts of livid, incensed and sometimes spiteful articles and comments, and more of the same nasty comments made on the comments. It’s like entering a bottomless putrid pit of rage and fury that have the effect of leaving anyone who dares to enter with a stench of verbose excrement that corrupts the mind and weakens the soul. You will need to be brave to enter and open minded enough to survive. Some would call it trolling. Whatever it is, it reflects the incomprehensible anger simmering from under the skin of these so called internet warriors.
But is this anger something new? And is Singapore getting angrier by the day?
Comparing the grumblings of old to the present, we could see that the nature of complaints did not change much. The grievances still revolve around government policies. Thus the target of the complaints has remained the same i.e. the government. That’s the price of having a big government. A government that is present in practically every aspect of life will naturally become an easy target.
The difference is in the platform used to complain. Coffee-shop chatters have moved into the internet. And if the complaints now seemed to be more vociferous, it could well be due to the cloak of anonymity that the internet inherently provides. And more importantly, it could be due to the fact that in a noisy marketplace, you would need to shout louder in order to be heard. One way to do this is to be controversial. There is a reason why people paint on a white canvas. White canvas is boring. Uncontroversial. So they splash colourful paints on it. The more garish the better. Eyeballs will be turned. And they will try to connect the dots to turn an innocuous statement into something more sinister, and blame every bad news on the target. They spin every good news into bad ones and then blame the target. It will gain even more traction if the target is the government. It is current and generally it is fashionable to dislike the government. It doesn’t matter if it sounds stupid as long as it gets noticed. Stupidity that gets heard is better than intelligence that gets ignored.
But feedbacks, no matter how unpalatable they may seem, are still feedbacks. Just as much as the government will have to listen and sieve through the coffee shop chatters, drunken or otherwise, to better formulate and calibrate their policies, they will have to surf through the internet noises. To simply switch off because they didn’t like what they were reading would mean that they might miss the little nuggets of wisdom and reason that might be contained within the barrel of filth. They just need to be thick-skinned about it.
So is Singapore an angry nation? If it’s of any help, according to the Police, offences that may be linked to anger, such as violent crimes, disputes, affray and rioting have shown a decline in 2013 compared to the previous year. So we can take solace that at least the internet fury is being kept at bay within the confines of cyberspace. But that is as far as physical harm is concerned. Whether this internet fury will have an impact when the election comes to view, is for the government to think about.