Online Words Hurt, So What?

If you consider this as undermining of freedom of individual expression, well, yes. If you see it in another way, such governance / constraints also offer basic protection of someone else’ right to live or speak freely (without being verbally/emotionally abused) – Ong Yujing

I urge the public to think about the far reaching implications of promoting too agressively the idea of “keep your mouth shut as it might hurt the feelings of someone else”. I fear that we are raising a generation of people who have under-developed adversity quotient (AQ); who are weak and dependant on social protection, only knows to hide under the apron of the big nannies; who thinks that anyone who criticises them are bad people, unthoughtful, inconsiderate and should be publicly shamed; who thinks that they are entitled to a fairytale world where everyone treats them nicely. I also fear that governments will be taking the opportunity to implement widespread cencorship in the name of justice and protection, for they are the ones that are hurt the most since the rise of social media platforms.

The Singapore national song “There was a time, when people said that Singapore won’t make it, but we did…”. left a lasting impression on me since I was young. Brainwashing or indoctrination you can call it, but I think it made a positive impact on me. It tells me that no matter what others may think or say of you, you can rely on your own efforts to acheive great things. It is a call to summon the fighting spirit in us, to face the difficulties with courage and strength, and make life worthwhile. All these, without telling others to shut up. Sadly, we never sing these songs anymore. Instead we are always reminded how beautiful this country now is, “where this is home”, where we can always come back to snuggle in comfort. We don’t stay strong anymore, we simply take for granted that the world must be beautiful. Why didn’t we pass on the values that made us prosper?

This is not just happening to Singapore, this applies to the entire post-war generation who had not had the chance to experience what it takes to overcome the odds (the market segment).

If the intention is to make the word a better place, then we need to target the right audience. Let me start by offering a few alternatives for the campaign slogan “Online Words Hurt, Just As Much As Offline”:

  1. “Online Words Hurt, Stay Offline if You Can’t Take It”
  2. “Online Words Hurt, Come Back Later”
  3. “Online Words Hurt, and It Makes You Stronger”

… But the same can be said with laws, norms etc. – Ong Yujing

I don’t think we can use law as a comparison in this case because law itself a social construct arising from social norms – e.g. the idea that we need to be softer towards the over-sensitive and emotional – which I am currently against. There are norms that I believe in and those that I don’t. Nurturing a generation of weaklings and undermining freedom of speech and internet is one that I cannot agree with.

But as always, I strive be sympathatic at the same time. How did this norm form? This tendency to protect the weak, young, poor extends beyond the human race to the animals, environment, gays, women etc. I am guessing the older generation having been through hardship is now trying to adopt protectionistic measures against external threats on the things they hold dear.

There is wisdom when the Gods who watch over us also brings trials and tribulations; We also need to deliver our love in a way that is sustainable and heathier for the younger (maturity) generations.

Notes: Mr Ong Yujing is a great companion and listener to me.