Another dot in the blogosphere?

I focused on the word “community” when I read the tweet below.

I reflected on how the word if often cited but rarely understood. I am all for the practice of having communities to drive conversation and learning. I am not for misusing the term or empty rhetoric.

I know what the tweet is getting at — the energy and the positivity that people can get from one another. However, having “community” does not automatically result in something positive. Racism is driven by community.

Pokèmon Go is not driven by a single community. Every country has communities of players. Three years into the game, there are small but positive communities of fans with deep knowledge and trainers who play with family.

Over that same time, and in Singapore in particular, are communities of spoofers and shavers, selfish and territorial players, the ignorant but loud, etc.

Lest I sound judgmental, one need only play the game casually and interact with others for a while to anecdotally find these communities.

Such communities are face-to-face and in Facebook. There is some policing and moderating online, but it hard to hide ugly behaviour in person.

This is not to say that there are no nice people. There are, but they can be hard to find or do not last long. The “community” mentioned in the tweet were ardent players who were selected for and had the means to make it to the event.

My point is that using “community” ignores that there is more than one group. Groups of PoGo players are heterogeneous. Painting all with a broad stroke called “community” does not cover all the cracks or imperfections in the wall.

One of the podcast channels I have recently subscribed is No Such Thing As A Fish. It is helmed by the fact-finding team behind the QI television series.

I have been binging the series in reverse order and recently listed to episode 244 No Such Thing As A Fishman (iTunes) (Spotify).

Stephen Fry made a guest appearance and shared his thoughts on how warped our thinking can sometimes be. He described how we do not seem to take offence to violence but vilify basic body functions.

Around the seven-minute mark, he mentioned how we think nothing of phrases like “Traffic was murder!” but might consider “It was shitting bad traffic!” as rude.

The juxtaposition was ridiculous, I LOL’d anyway, and I got his point. It was a matter of questioning one’s perspective.

If we are to nurture more empathetic learners, we should not just deluge them with the experiences and cultures of “others”. We also need to help them explore and question their own biases and standards. If we cannot look past ourselves, how are we to gain insights into others?

There is a somewhat cynical saying that youth is wasted on the young. It tries to point out that the energy of youth is not often matched by the directions it takes.

Video source

We celebrated Youth Day yesterday. Coincidentally I caught this video on YouTube. It was an effort by youth for youth to spread the message about climate change.

The effort was commendable, but it was opposed by adults who could not look beyond themselves. Youth is not always wasted on the young. It is sometimes wasted by the old.


Video source

The USA (not America) celebrated its Independence Day last week. It has lots to celebrate and it still has a lot to work on.

M(US)AGA, anyone?

I have been on Twitter since January 2007 and have the handle @ashley. Barely a week goes by without someone begging, asking, or demanding I give them that username.

The latest “request” was somewhat ironic given that I had just reflected on etiquette and its link to netiquette.

Instead of watching the video and reading the reflection about etiquette and netiquette (which are linked by the common thread of respect) a Twitter user and his/her fans demanded I give up my username.

I am not giving my handle away. I have had it since almost the beginning of Twitter. I am also not responding to the rudeness of the exchanges. Don’t take my word for it, see one user’s remarks:

My username, account, and stand are worth more than money.

It is about civility and empathy, which seems to be in short supply among some on Twitter. Perhaps they might start with some emotional intelligence.

Video source

Is “emotional intelligence” a skillset?

According to key research outlined in the video above, EI can be predicted by a person’s general intelligence, agreeableness, and sex. So those who tout the ability to increase EI might simply be relabelling existing traits.

But might improved cognitive reasoning and problem-solving also increase EI?

The research summarised in the video suggested that students who practiced how to take perspectives and reduce aggression or distress were better able to solve emotional problems.

So the question of EI as a skillset is moot. The more important question might be why EI seems to be valued later (adult working life) than sooner (in schooling). This is not to say that EI is not important earlier.

The larger issue might be how academics are still valued and pursued over almost everything else. This sets the tone for what children should focus on and maladjusts them later in life.

Video source

When I was growing up, I learnt many of the etiquette skills and expectations in the video above. My lessons were a combination of parenting, schooling, and officer training. (Aside: I wonder how much of that happens today.)

Whatever I was taught, I had to practice the how, what, and when, but I was never really told why. Well, other than it was the proper and polite thing to do.

As a child, teen, and young adult, the insistence on following such stiff rules with no apparent logic seemed ridiculous. But as the demonstrator in the video mentioned, etiquette is about showing respect to others in social contexts.

An adult who learnt such etiquette might realise the importance of transferring that principle online. How many kids learn dining etiquette now? Do netizens today learn the equivalent of etiquette online and apply them in person? More importantly, do they learn why?

I am not referring to “cyberwellness” in theory, but about embodied practice. I am not talking about case studies (engaging as they may be), but about having models and mentors who demonstrate and correct.

This is important. It is the fourth R — respect.

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