Nokia 6030

Phoney Problems: Failing at Normalcy


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.

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Karl Marx Estranged Labor

The Estranged Labour of Online Surveys


Money is burdensome. As Karl Marx lectured, “wage is but a necessary consequence of labor’s estrangement”. Money is what we deserve for hours x hours of unsatisfying work. But extra money is different. Extra money is a bonus we are not entitled to receive. Extra money is a guilty pleasure we derive for getting more than our effort’s worth. That’s why we try lotteries. That’s why we fall for scams. That’s why we lunge for coins on the pavement.

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SG Streetspeaks: Religious Touting


Where: Choa Chu Kang Interchange
When: Mar 2016, Monday, 1700h, Cloudy

This is a follow-up to my previous post on walking with a surveyor. To provide context, I don’t like to be intruded on the streets by surveyors, flyer givers, or salespeople. Yet on that occasion, the girl’s spontaneity was refreshing. After my haircut, I had to return to the interchange, but I hoped to see her again… (read that post to find out more)

Instead, another guy came up to me. “Hi, can you help me fill in this survey? Just 1 minute!” Usually I’d wave it off. But conditioned by the earlier encounter, I was feeling more generous. Okay, 1 minute it shall be.

I almost regreted immediately. It was a questionnaire on religious beliefs. There were questions like “Do you believe in God?”, “What do you think comes after death?” and so on. Alright… 1 minute and I will be through this discomfort.

I was naïve.

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