Will Singaporean bloggers have no tomorrow?

Infantile blogger
Mr Miyagi pissed that he didn’t qualify as an infantile blogger

The Infantile Blogosphere
After reading the comments left over the last few days I have re-read the article and it appears to me that Singapore hasn’t changed.

Yes I am aware of some very mature blogs written by anonymous bloggers, to name just two, the likes of Wannabe Lawyer, Singapore Commentator stand out but go read the likes of MrBrown, Xiaxue and other certain blogs that shall not be named, and it is full of infantile concerns or pulling silly faces.

I am planning on doing research into Singaporean attitudes on certain contemporary issues and I am starting to think that because of the high readership of the two blogs mentioned above, and the very small number of ‘mature’ blogs that my source of data is definitely skewed towards ‘infantilism’. So there is the possibilty that the ‘infantile’ label is simply my bias. I am aware of this ‘bias’, but currently have little empirical data to refute it.

Please point me towards blogs that are not infantile and currently do not appear on my Singapore Blog list.


The trouble started here. The issue was later featured on tomorrow.sg, the new online consortium of top-tier Singapore bloggers, where Steven’s opinion was effectively ripped to shreds.

Freedom blog award winner and senior lecturer in Sociology, Steven E. McDermott of Singabloodypore, took a critical stab at the Singapore’s blogosphere which he deemed as being made up of infantile (i.e. immature) bloggers. He argued that most blogs in Singapore appeared similar to that of popular bloggers Xiaxue and Mr Brown, which were “infantile”.

While he did note that there were matured Singaporean bloggers who directly engaged civic interests, he feared that the lack of interest in the more “serious matters” in majority of the Singapore blogs reaffirmed his earlier article on the “Happy-face fascism” in Singapore. The idea of Singaporeans obsessed with having childish fun was what Steven deemed as deluding Singaporeans into thinking that everything in their country was in good shape, when it was actually fraught with significant issues that needed to be immediately addressed.

Regardless of Steven’s self-crucifying mission, almost the entire Singapore blogosphere came crashing on Steven for his “shock-and-awe tactics”. Yi Fan made a valid statement by explaining how Steve had misunderstood the satirical atmosphere that is being portrayed in blogs and the powerful effect they result in. In effect Yi Fan justified the reason behind this appearance of infantilism to anyone critically analyzing Singapore blogs.

Expat@Large gave a sound counter-argument in which he explained how “there [were] not the number/ratio of political blogs about Singapore like those are exploding throughout the US, so Steve just happens to stand out”.

My official take
My views hinge around these points which I’m glad were made by fellow Singaporeans. In effect, I don’t think Steven failed in his mission… in fact he should be pleased to know through such comments that Singaporeans can be seen as having a deeper than visible understanding of how the media and political eco-system works. Combine this with their technical prowess in the art of blogging, Singaporean bloggers can be quite a formidable force (e.g. tomorrow.sg). Steven does stand out unfortunately, and we should commend him for taking this foolish yet strong stand in reawakening our senses to take responsibility for our lives, and our country.

jonsteward.gifHaving personally started blogging from the United States, I can safely agree that the political representation in the US blogosphere literally runs by the thousands, much more than in Singapore, and in fact anywhere else. Perhaps this is a natural thing as the blogging scene in the US has had more time to mature than in Singapore. Blogging is still pretty young in Singapore, so I’d say just give it time.

In the mean time, where do we go from here?
How can Singaporeans be assured of a better tomorrow?

Emmy award winning TV host Jon Steward of The Daily Show can teach us a thing or two; he’s best at political satire. We should increase our responsibility to local issues, but my advice is not to force it out of yourself. Humor can be a powerful thing because in a way, we are “keeping it real”. It’s not realistic to preach your opinions directly onto others, as people won’t want to listen to harsh news. Instead, we need to bring it to the audience in the way they’d want it, cool and collected (e.g. MTV’s Choose or Lose young voters’ campaign).

Finally, I believe for bloggers to make political commentary work, they need to sell what they say and convince the people in a polite fashion. Only do the “McDermott” when you really have no choice.

10 thoughts on “Will Singaporean bloggers have no tomorrow?

  1. I like this term that you use: “deeper than visible understanding”. Gets me thinking… can there be just “visible understanding”? As opposed to “understanding”?

    What I really came to say (in my rambling way*), is this — I had an epiphany yesterday: Read the post by Mr Brown’s blog and decided to throw in my 2 cents. I was maybe the 5th or 6th. When I checked a few hours later, woah there were ten over times more comments. Suddenly it dawned on me that (1) quite a few of the comments were “superfluous” (mine included), and (2) maybe bec. of Mr B’s popularity, they all wanted to leave their calling card and hopefully get linked back to their site. Was I one of them?

    I tested my theory with the other popular and so-called “infantile” blogs, and yup, the theory holds up. I guess one can call it “Comment Groupie Syndrome”. Maybe I could be proved wrong.

    Hope this comment is not seen in any bad way, but you can quote me. I am prepared to explain my views, and be corrected if proven wrong : )

    * Gee, it rhymes!

  2. Good Rap!

    By “deeper than visible understanding”, I mean a level of existing understanding that is not yet demonstrated by bloggers. I believe that the Singaporean blogosphere is still grappling their ability to be literal with their various views (including politics), yet to do it in an ideal satirical fashion.

    If you study the motivations of a blogger like Kaye Trammell did, personal blogs are unique in that:

    1. Posts are written primarily under the self-expression motivation.
    2. Comments are motivated by the desire for social interaction.
    3. Trackbacks are written to share information.

    This is based on her content analysis of 1282 items, in which she looked at what motivated the author of posts, comments & trackbacks to create content for the Web.

    Mr Brown’s blog is popular, and under the uses & gratification theory, it is naturally understandable for bloggers to use his site as the best possible base for social interaction in the Singaporean context.

    Trammell, K.D. (2004). Celebrity blogs: Investigation in the persuasive nature of two-way communication regarding politics. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Florida.

  3. Great resource. Where did you find it? Maybe I should direct my user enquiries to you instead (this is a compliment; not sarcasm). Thanks for the lead. Any more of such dissertations? Don’t mind if you email me (if it isn’t too much trouble).

  4. I simply used google for this one… there are tons of resources on blogging because it is “trendy” at the moment. I wish I had a collection of scholarly literature, but I don’t… it’s a mess. I’m still trying to get the hang of EndNote 8. Also, don’t forget http://scholar.google.com and although you might not be able to download the articles directly from the results (your library might not subscribe to that particular journal), you can try other avenues of getting it.

  5. Actually, I embrace Steven McDermott as one of our own. He’s obviously lived in Singapore long enough to completely lose his sense of irony.

  6. All’s fair in blogging… it’s good that most Singaporean bloggers take what he said graciously. After all, his was concerned for the well being of Singapore, just in a different way. ­čÖé

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