27 September 2006

From selective wisdom to selective folly: why the future does not belong to bloggers

This is the text of the lunchtime talk delivered at Singapore Management University, on 27 Sept 2006, at the invitation of the Wee Kim Wee Centre. Full speech.

21 comments:

hugewhaleshark said...

Great discussion. Sorry I had to run off early.

From the guy in the corner,
hws.

Anonymous said...

Could it be a case of selective feedback? Speaking from my personal internet/blog surfing preferences.

My tendency is to comment (albeit usually anonymously) to issues for which I have personal experience/observations to share. Thus, my comments are often limited to blog entries related to Singapore society, work and stuff.

Nevertheless, I value your site for your views and info, including those abt GLBTs. For example, I'm one of those blur Singaporeans who cannot tell a straight from a gay/lesbian [unless I see them holding hands... "kiss-air smooching and hugs" don't count cos even heteros do it]. As such, your entries abt GLBTs issues do offer me some perspective of GLBTs' lives. However, since I do not really know how to identify GLBTs (the "you can tell" thingie kept being lost on me, I mean "how?"), I cannot even be sure if I know of any GLBTs personally. Thus I refrain from commenting on those issues (e.g. GLBT issues) since I may not have much personal experience/observations to share.

Not sure, but I think I'm not the only blur Singaporean sotong. If so, then maybe others may share similar reservations as mine?

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

I think anonymous of 28 Sept, 15:40, was referring to this particular statement in the speech: "It's a known fact that the most important factor predicting whether a person holds positive or negative opinions about homosexuality is not whether he has been exposed to reasoning or arguments, but whether he has met real gay people or has friends who are gay."

Anonymous was offering an explanation why I would think that.

I appreciate his insight, but actually I was referring to a number of surveys done, mostly in the US, that measured societal attitudes against a number of social factors.

As I write this, I can't name any particular study -- needs googling and research -- but here is one on TvWiki, that refered to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. >Link.

A key sentence there is this one:

[In 2001], "Only 38% of the general public think that 'homosexual behavior' is wrong..... Among people who don't know someone who is LGB 61% think the behavior is wrong, which bears out the common wisdom that coming out helps the fight for GLBT equality."

Working backwards from the figures:

73% know someone gay. Only 29% of this group think homosexual behaviour is wrong.
27% don't know someone gay. 61% of them think homosexual behvaiour is wrong.
Average for population as whole: 38% think 'homosexual behaviour' is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hi YB,

I'm the "anonymous of 28 Sept, 15:40". Thanks helping to put my comments into context.

Yes, I was referring to the statement: "It's a known fact that the most important factor predicting whether a person holds positive or negative opinions about homosexuality is not whether he has been exposed to reasoning or arguments, but whether he has met real gay people or has friends who are gay."

I do agree with the comment from the TVWiKi link "which bears out the common wisdom that coming out helps the fight for GLBT equality". If I don't know personal friend(s) who is(are) GLBT, how do I counter friends/acquaintances who pass biased remarks? They'll just run down my agruments "airy-fairy theory" with "you don't know because you don't have personal experience of GLBT".

Another comment from the TVWiKi link that caught my attention: "Broken down by religion, 60% of evangelical christians think that it is wrong, whereas only 11% with no religious affiliation are against it."

Yup, I belong to the 89% with no religious affiliation who are not against it ;) . I've seen too many people who judge others and/or themselves too harshly due to religious dogma.

Hope that one day more GLBTs will be come-out and stand for their human rights (freedom to personal choices) just like you did. In the Singaporean context, GLBT rights and other civil society (human) rights are all closely intertwined.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 28 September, 2006 20:45
If I don't know personal friend(s) who is(are) GLBT, how do I counter friends/acquaintances who pass biased remarks? They'll just run down my agruments "airy-fairy theory" with "you don't know because you don't have personal experience of GLBT".

I would've said I don't need to be stupid to speak about dumb people accompanied with an extremely dirty look. But then I'm a bit of a prat. Besides, you know, for certain values of "know", Yawning Bread, don't ya?

Also, I'm going out on a limb, I'll guess that if one allows biased remarks to be made without rebuttal, one is less likely to know LGBT persons. Simply because I'd finger the person for being possibly closeminded and not come out at all. This also makes me a bit suspicious of the putative causal relationship between knowing LGBT persons and thinking that homosexuality is ok. I'll offer the possibility that people who are ok with homosexuality are more likely to know LGBT persons. What do you think?

p.s. Please forgive the clumsy sentences. I'm having a stupid day.

Jordan said...

'What will happen when the internet and blogging penetrate further?'- Yawning Bread
It is happening right now.
'online blogging'is 10 years old in Singapore...give n take.
Since the internet started taking off, the print media has been shrinking in sales,as more people read news online. The reading choice of newspapers are determined by which side of the political bent that the newspaper corporation is tilted towards. The Washington Post has always been a radical right,the New york Times, a more liberal read.
Blogs written by the right-wing Ann 'KKK" Coulter who frequently gets a great 'boo' from college campuses, attract, obviously, a certain group.
Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes, and Arriana Huffington and Molly Ivins are more in line with liberal thinking. Huffington's ex-husband is a gay man.
Applying that to the Singapore political scene, blogs written by Singaporeans, who reveal the truth of Singapore politics are a breathe of fresh air. The internet and blogging has meshed, the online reader who has a wonderful choice of reading material. Everything is online, from dating, to retail goods. This is a revolutionary computer century we are fortunate to be in. And it can get only better. Arthur Miller, sadly, has passed away as he would have to re-invent his old phrase.

Jordan said...

This is to '
To Anonymous 29 September, 2006 00:43:I'll offer the possibility that people who are ok with homosexuality are more likely to know LGBT persons. What do you think? '

Here is my comment.
You have to inform your friends to keep an open-mind about all people, and not be judgemental about anyone, whether gays or not.
We are all the same 'human being' species, and are no different.
That is where most Singaporeans get all twisted into a knot.
Relax, and enjoy the company of nice decent people. That's it. Simple.
Believe me, if you are not gay, the person who is, will know.
And if the gay person still does notget it?
Easy- Just inform him that you are not 'gay'. The gay guy is not going to attack you, and suck your blood...

'you would be lucky??? i am just kiddin'... just kiddin'...'-just a joke.

It is FEAR AND IGNORANCE AND LACK OF IMFORMATION which is the issue. Not your fault.

Anonymous said...

actually, I think both bloggers here and SPH overestimate the influence of the blogs, the former because of ego, the latter as justification for not representing all the viewpoints, since "these are more suitable for blogs"

blogs do not have the wide reach and systematic reporting/analysis which require manpower and support system such as news database; they might score high pageviews for some particular moments, but fail to produce followup discussions on the important ideas in the content

Jordan said...

This is for 'Anonymous29 September, 2006 12:26'

I think we are doing pretty good here. Alex has an excellent forum for everyone, to exchanged their views with great honesty. I for one have learnt a great deal.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 29 September, 2006 00:43 here:

Jordan

I think you might be confusing/conflating me with one of the other Anonymouses. An understandable error.

But if it wasn't a mistake, I have to say I don't understand how what you said addresses my question. I didn't mean "know GLBT persons" in the Biblical sense. I meant "know" in the general sense of acquaintances/friends etc. I was trying to say, clumsily evidently, that if a gay person is in a group that is very hostile towards homosexuals then he/she isn't going to out himself/herself. Therefore, the causal relation that is implied, that if one knows gay persons, one will be ok with homosexuality, is problematic. Technically, the aforementioned hostile group know/knew a gay person but are simply unaware of it.

I was just offering a small critique of the study that was linked by YawningBread.

Quite frankly, I find your comment somewhat patronising. I don't think I've ever been consciously and overtly homophobic before [I cannot preclude the possibility of being subconsciously homophobic] and I don't care to be told how to conduct myself.

For what it's worth, I've known gay persons. As a group, they're just like heterosexuals. Some are jerks, some are nice. Well, maybe not "just like heterosexuals". I've yet to hear any gay person express revulsion for straight, garden-variety sex. As long as both or all 3/4/5 are consenting adults, I really don't care. Polyamory? Go ahead!

et.

Anonymous said...

with the acceptance of the gay community in sg, should we also do away with the archaic laws on unnatural sex?- whatever that means..

Jordan said...

ToAnonymous at 29 September, 2006 00:43:
My response:
yes, all humans, hetro, gays n bis can be jerks. yes, I understood you. "Not in the blibical sense' of course.
If anyone is a jerk, it is their problem, not yours.
Hope I have clarified my comment.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 30 September, 2006 11:23: with the acceptance of the gay community in sg, should we also do away with the archaic laws on unnatural sex?- whatever that means..

Problem is govt claims this acceptance is within minority group, majority are still homophobic. Same BS claimed by govt on several other archiac laws, e.g. censorship. Wonder if it is possible to push for some referrendum on such matters? Then again, archaic unnatural sex laws is just one of many other archaic laws that deserve a re-look/referendum. ISA is another!

So many archaic laws waiting to be re-look. What have our million-dollar ministers been doing all these years? Btw, I heard that:
(a) they do not pay tax on their million-dollar income
(b) those with multiple titles (e.g. Vivian B's recent add-on appointments) gets multiple millions, one for each title.
Can any1 confirm/refute the above hear-say?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 30 September, 2006 11:23;

For what it's worth, 'whatever rocks your boat'.

Anonymous said...

I hear you 01/01:28. And I agree with 05:52.

Let's live with our own consequences and learn from it without the hypocritical laws/ or hypocrites bearing down on the people.

Life is about falling and picking up the pieces and carry on living. I am beginning to appreciate the more liberal west where there is space for separation and acceptance. The rock throwing is the wrong way to go....

Anonymous said...

"whether he has been exposed to reasoning or arguments"...There are other ways too. Look at Singapore Donkey at http://singaporedonkey.wordpress.com. The articles there is very funny...humour is a good way to make a point too.

Anonymous said...

that actually shows blogs' weakness: you can do something to create attention, but not to generate sustained, in depth discussion

BL said...

Hi Yawning Bread,

Wish that I was there for the talk. I have devised some thoughts for an unfinished essay which I originally intended for Singapore Angle. You can view my perspective or perhaps counter arguments to your piece.

Let me know what you think. Here is the URL

Anonymous said...

quite true blogs provide for the long tail of odd topics and personal obsessions; what it fails to provide is sustained, indepth discussion of major topics, because of the diversity so that attention is not focused

KiWeTO said...

Go out and DO something about it?

erm, nobody's been trained to do something about it.

Everyone who has gone through the education system has been trained to let the authorities do something about it.

When will we wake up as a society and do something abou it? perhaps never. Because too many who may have want to, will rather leave, and continue leaving those who want to do something about it, lacking the critical mass to actually accomplish anything they do.



E.o.M.

wee said...

The problem with the consumption of any media is what is presented to the audience.

The media decides the public's agenda. If TV says politics is important, everyone will pay more attention to it.

Gay issues were only prominent sometime back when the PM said it's ok for homosexuals to come out. Salience of the issue died down as the media stopped reporting it.

So yes, bloggers unless they are given more attention, will not be the media agenda setters of the future.

By the way, perhaps writing shorter paragraphs and being more concise will draw more readers. Use of pictures works wonders too.