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Posts Tagged ‘inconsiderate

I read this opinion in the ST forum a few times to make sure I was not missing anything or misinterpreting it.

Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, attributed the use of mobile phones to people being inconsiderate on public transport.

One might react emotionally by asking when minding one’s own business is being inconsiderate. But the fact of the matter is that not being aware of the people around you can be impolite depending on the context.

That said, why put the blame on the medium? Yes, the e-books, games, videos, and other mobile content are very engaging (a few folks have even tried participating in #edsg chats while on public transport!), but the mobile media are not the only factor.

If you blame that medium then I would also point out that reading paperbacks, playing cards, listening to a Walkman (way back then!), or just chatting intently are just as absorbing. The traditional newspaper is a magnificent wall to place between the reader and someone who needs the space or a seat.

You can take the devices out of the hands of users and they will still be rude or inconsiderate. They can pretend to sleep, take more room than they need, or talk very loudly. (Coincidentally, as I quietly type this draft of my iPhone, a group of four university students does not care if the whole bus can hear their incessant blather.)

If you are going to address a problem, get at its roots. Attacking the symptoms will get you nowhere and you risk alienating the very people you are trying to reach.

So what is the root of the problem? In this case, I agree with Dr Wan that it is the lack of a combination of good upbringing and schooling on the use of mobile devices in public places or face-to-face social contexts.

This is a weekend rant.

Earlier this week, I was waiting outside my son’s school at pickup time. I stood at my usual spot away from the gate and near the fence. A balding gent barged on front me and started plucking hairs out of his face with two 10 cent coins as tweezers.

Ah, I thought, some of our “endearing” cultural habits haven’t completely gone the way of the dinosaur. It was grossly fascinating to watch as he was quite adept at finding small facial and neck hairs with the coins and harvesting them.

But I did not expect him to eat the hairs, which he did with great relish. My wife’s response to my SMS about the incident was “Ack. Gag.”

Still, I do not consider his behaviour inconsiderate. He was putting on a public performance, but you could move or look away. You could even say he was recycling biowaste.

What I consider inconsiderate is the indiscriminate burning of joss papers.

We opted to stay in the heartlands to stay grounded. But it is times like now and the hungry ghost festival that I have regrets. I take issue with people who burn incense paper way past midnight, close to the apartments, and in non-designated areas like grass patches or access roads.

The ash, smoke and smell gets into our apartment. The next morning the ground looks scorched as if unsuccessful alien abductions took place. The poor cleaners have to wait for the smouldering remains to cool before clearing them from drains, grates, paths, grass patches, etc.

I am all for being tolerant as long as we get the opportunity to piss each other off equally. Maybe they should be forced to read my blog as I urge them to burn e-paper.

Then again, they can move or look away and I am not being inconsiderate enough for them to be tolerant…


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