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Asian Opinions

S M Ong
Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014

Asian Opinions

Let’s talk about issues that S’poreans really care about

The New Paper on Sunday | S M Ong | Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014

No secrets:Singaporeans do not seem to care much about privacy.

That was the comment posted with a link on my Facebook timeline last week by an American friend whom I went to college with and haven’t seen since Taylor Dayne had a pop hit.

Before this, Bill hadn’t contacted me in months.

So what was this irresistible item about Singapore that Bill, who’s now an archaeologist in the US midwest, felt compelled to share with me and comment on?

I mean, he didn’t comment on the hilarious bit that comedian John Oliver did two Sundays ago on his HBO show Last Week Tonight.

It was on the National Council on Problem Gambling’s World Cup ad where Andy’s father bet on Germany, the eventual champs.

Yes, Jimmy Fallon had already done a bit on the same thing a week earlier on The Tonight Show.

But Oliver took it even further by producing “prequels” to the ad, where Andy’s father also correctly bet Andy’s savings on the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and that Ryan Gosling would get Eva Mendes pregnant.

But no, not a peep from Bill about that.

Also no pithy remarks from him when newspapers around the world were running headlines like “Singapore libraries to destroy copies of gay penguin book”.

Maybe he thought the headline was from The Onion, the satirical website known for fake news stories where a mutual acquaintance is a writer.

But Bill is a little more high-minded than that.

The link he sent me was to an article entitled “The Social Laboratory” in a US magazine called Foreign Policy.

This intro alone was enough to make me want to curl up in a corner and cry: “Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society.”

What I read was: “Singapore is big words, big words, big words society.”

Did he really expect me to read this article?

Sorry Bill, I don’t have a PhD like you.

Can’t we just go back to talking about homosexual flightless birds and movie stars making babies? That’s more my wheelhouse.

Could I just ignore him? Would that offend him?

What’s the social media etiquette for a situation like this?

I mean, I really didn’t want to read the article.

Or maybe I could just click the “like” button on Bill’s comment and be done with it.

But that would be lying.

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