Another dot in the blogosphere?

Angry Birds moment?

Posted on: June 8, 2016

Recently one of our Deputy Prime Ministers (DPM) gave a series of speeches to youthful audiences. TODAYonline covered one such talk at a pre-university seminar at the start of the June school vacation.

The headline read More flexible ways of learning needed for jobs of future: DPM. If I was a fly on the wall, my wings would probably have buzzed and resonated with the message.

I could not find a transcript online of the speech. This was a pity as I am still puzzled by what our DPM meant when he quipped about “our Angry Birds moment”. According to the article:

Mr Tharman also expressed confidence that innovation would result in Singapore firms and brands being leaders, with a reputation for being safe and ethical, and with attitude and character. “We would have had our Angry Birds moment in the 2020s,” he said.

I have two interpretations.

One is that we are the little bird that can. 

In its heyday, Rovio conquered the world with Angry Birds. You could not walk anywhere without bumping into a flock of its merchandise.

Angry Birds in the HDB heartlands.

I took this photo of Angry Birds paraphernalia in an HDB heartland in 2011 when I was preparing for a TEDx talk on game-based learning. Yes, back then I used Angry Birds as a vehicle to deliver a message on change.

Video source

Another interpretation of our collective Angry Birds moment is doing too little too late. This is like trying to jump on a bandwagon after it has rushed past and falling into its dust cloud instead.

It is like Rovio releasing the Angry Birds movie now when it is five years too late.

It is like McDonald’s Singapore partnering with Rovio to sell Angry Birds-themed meals and merchandise even though hardly anyone will admit they play the game.

Angry Birds was cool and current then. You distance yourself from the apps in your phone or the plush toys in your car unless you want to look old and outdated. 

Five years is not a very long time in a human lifetime. It is a long time to take advantage of an Angry Birds moment. It is not long enough to change mindsets of generations of people weaned on spoon-feeding and extra tuition.

Politics is sometimes about posturing and rhetoric. The tone and words are crafted to try to change mindsets and move hearts, but not every message resonates. DPM’s strategy then might have been to create cognitive dissonance. Instead of telling people what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear.

We need more talk and action that challenge the status quo of irrelevant and ineffective. Dissonance is honest, refreshing, and I would wager, more likely to seed change.

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