XYZ will be starting work at Google. Or Facebook. Or any of the names which have almost ceased to exist as brands, for they are ubiquitous in our everyday lives. When such status updates appear on your feed, how would you react? Chances are, you click the ‘wow’ emoji if not the ‘like’. I did, as did many others. But how do you feel inside? How do you make sense of yourself, in relation to this friend or acquaintance who used to breathe in some of the air you breathed out?
Chinese is in my blood. It gives colour to my skin and forms the first legible sounds through my teeth. Despite my childhood prowess in math, there was a pride to being in a Higher Chinese class and, later, in entering Hwa Chong. That pride turned out to be a response to affirmation, to being formally recognized as excellent. In time, encircled by more excellent company, I began to appreciate Chinese assignments. They encourage us to form thoughts on matters of moral significance. They encourage our selves to participate.
Ah, I identify with Chinese.
Earth is fickle. Its plates shift, breaking old alliances and forging new ones. Sometimes they quiver so much they form quakes, tsunami-ing lives and lifestyles. Its politics are much the same, only swifter. Power changes hands and definitions faster than ever, though not a lot of it count as progress. Its people must thus keep shifting, along with but also against these shifts, to find their newest right place on Earth.
SmartCasualSG is a little world in itself, about to see its first seismic shift. It emerges from the cracks and patches that have come before, the most recent of which are Putting Myself in Digital Shoes and Elevating Public Discourse. Yet unlike Earth, the looming changes are not decisions of a whimsical kind. They are practical responses to social habits, the reward of a clearer and less prejudiced mind.
I wasn’t prejudiced against a particular race, language, or religion. Rather, I was prejudiced by my personality, by being someone who views knowledge as practical in itself. I was prejudiced by my attention, too introverted to empathize with others’ difficulties. I was prejudiced by my education, informing the mistaken effort to mix every bit of theory and finding with personal experience, to show the merits of viewing all reality as subjective.
I was prejudiced by the places I stood; the vantage points I took.
I got my first phone at age 16. I got my first smartphone at age 21. These numbers make little sense unless I situate myself within cultural developments. So let me clarify: I got my first phone – a Nokia 6030 hand-me-down – almost 2 years after the release of the 1st generation of iPhones.
That placed me in the visible minority.
As a result, I was hyper-conscious about my phone. I spent more time looking at others’ phones than mine. Then, iPhones remained a luxury good, so most peers possess other brands of smartphones, like LG. Yet my attentions were fixated on those with traditional number-pad phones. In a class of 34, I counted only 2. One of them used it because his smartphone broke down. The other eventually switched in the latter half of the year.
Me? I kept mine nestled in my pocket. I took it out only in the absence of others.