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With technology advancing so rapidly now, almost everyone has a computer, which leads to Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), a form of communication using computers and computer networks. This allows access and interaction between people and databases from all over the world.

Facebook is a social networking site that was launched in 2004, currently the world’s most used social network. In it, users can add peoples as friends, send them messages, update their personal profiles, chat, upload photos etc. Basically, it is a tool for friends to update one another on their lives or for people to become closer.

It is indeed a great way to stay in contact with people we hardly meet, and also a good substitute for telephone especially if two people are located geographically apart because of the cost. Not only is it free, it is also fast, making communication very convenient. Furthermore, businesses are also making use of this advantage to advertise online because it is where the masses are isn’t it?

However, how trustworthy are online communication portals? Are your identities online the same as real life? Especially for people who meet friends online, their perception of this stranger is built based solely on what they see online only. Because creating your identity online gives you a lot of time for “preparation”. One fine example would be the editing of photos to make yourself look better. Facebook has many uses but the most popular and significant one would be the efficient sharing of photos. Knowing that friends of friends or even strangers might view your pictures, people are even more conscious of how they portray themselves online.

Then there is anonymity online. The good thing about the cyberspace is that one can converse with other people from around the world freely without the need to reveal who you really are. Why hide behind the screen and not reveal yourself then? Some people might not find acceptance in real life and choose to assume a different persona online, simply because they want others to accept them for who they are without the need to know how they look like. They might also feel more confident this way. Because of the increased confidence online as compared to real life, many are actually more outspoken virtually.

What about you? Do you rely heavily on CMC? And if so, do you have multiple identities?


G8 Summit

June 27, 2010

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The G8 summit took place over the weekend at Toronto, Canada, where the leaders of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan and Russia focused on recovery from a global economic crisis. However, they closed the summit with a strong and final statement. In it, they singled out North Korea and Iran for criticism. The G8 leaders highlighted fears over nuclear proliferation, and fingered North Korea and Iran as major threats.

Besides reuters, other news channels also mentioned about in their articles on the summit. There have been worldwide coverage on it because G8 summits involve the top leaders in the world and the issues discussed involve everyone. This can be seen as an agenda-setting by the media, to raise the importance of the issue in everyone’s mind through repeated coverages of the event.

By using the word “criticizes” in its article title, in a way CNN is portraying North Korea and Iran to be in a bad league. Both articles seem to be increasing the awareness of people about what North Korea is and has been doing as well as Iran, and to show the seriousness if they continue in what they are doing.

“Such an incident is a challenge to peace and security in the region and beyond,” the G8 final communique said.

“The governments of Iran and North Korea have chosen to acquire weapons to threaten their neighbors. The world must see to it that what they spend on these weapons will not be the only costs they incur,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

From these quotes, it is obvious the media is trying to prove to us the consequences of North Korea and Iran’s actions, and that is to disrupt the peace and security, something we all are seeking after.

“We demand that the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea refrain from committing any attacks or threatening hostilities against the Republic of Korea,” the statement said.

The G8 demanded North Korea “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as proliferation activities, in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

“Our goal is to persuade Iran’s leaders to engage in a transparent dialogue about its nuclear activities and to meet Iran’s international obligations,” they said.

Now that we know tha purpose of the CNN and Reuters for reporting on the news is to create awareness among the people as well as putting pressure on both countries to cease all their activities, do you think it is successful enough to instil fear among us and that  it is possible that North Korea and Iran might feel the pressure and be influenced to stop?

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On Wednesday, a first downpour followed by a second intense rainstorm in Singapore led to a major flash flood at Orchard Road, with the junction of Ion Orchard and Scotts Road so severe making traffic impossible to pass. The rain was especially heavy over at the Orchard Road and Rochor Road areas, which were submerged in floodwaters of up to half a metre deep. Several shops near Wheelock Place like newly opened fast food outlet Wendy’s and coffee retailier Starbucks were completely underwater. Drivers were stuck in their vehicles and were helpless, commuters had to roll up their trousers and take off their shoes if they were going to alight from the buses, people at the busstops were standing on the benches to avoid the water.

Besides Orchard, other areas of Singapore, including Coronation Road West, Fourth Avenue, Kings Road, Kheam Hock Road and Veerasamy Road were also affected, bringing traffic to a crawl.

Eyewitnesses were busy taking photos and uploading them on social networking sites like Twitter, as well as tweeting about the flash floods. Singaporeans reacted with shock upon hearing the news and seeing the flood photos. I mean, the reactions were expected since this is considered a natural disaster to Singapore already, because we are rarely faced with things like this. The last major flood was back in 1986.

Citizens of Singapore are very fortunate to be living here, those borned and raised here or those who emigrated from overseas, because despite our small size, we are relatively safe in terms of disasters compared to other countries. This flood is already a huge deal to us, like it was the end of the world, but to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia where their floods stretch longer than our Orchard Road and killed dozens, they would be thankful for this.

Yet, the moment we have access to the internet and reading articles on the flood and the causes of it, we started blaming the poor drainage systems and the inefficiency of the workers for not checking the pipes which led to blockage of them, and complaining about how much inconvenience it has caused us. I guess why we reacted this way is because of how we were brought up. Since young, we have been sheltered by our parents, had good education, no natural disaster, free of terrorist attacks, which made us in a way complacent and taking things for granted. Unknowingly, it has become part of our culture to have things going smoothly that we never thought one day something unexpectedly bad might befall on us. It is no secret that Singaporeans love to complain, and through this event I am even more certain of it.

Sure, it is a shock to all that a country like Singapore actually had this happening to her, however, cliche as it might sound, everyone makes mistakes. No doubt our government is impeccable in building us up, but they are still learning, and we are still developing. Why complain? Why not take this as a learning experience? Instead of being thankful for so many years of a trouble-free life, why are we still so greedy and unappreciative?

With great teamwork and cooperation from various groups, we managed to find out the source of the problem, and was quick to rectify it. However, let us not be complacent. We ought to stop being so self-absorbed and care more, because obviously it is more than just the choking of the pipes, it is the change in climate. Rather, we should all do something instead of sitting back doing nothing and cry when something bad happens again. Let this unfortunate episode be a wake up call for us Singaporeans.

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Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, and his wife, Tipper, are calling it quits after four decades of marriage to each other.

The sad and unexpected news came as a shock for most people, because they were touted as the perfect role model couple, and one never would have thought that disagreements might ensue between them that they would have to divorce. I mean, they have been together for 40 years, why now? Why bother? Why not just stay with each other for companionship even if the feeling is no longer there?

Al Gore and Tipper met and fell in love during his high school graduation dance, and according to Tipper, “it was just like everyone else melted away”. Love at first sight perhaps? Well, it is hard to deny that physical appearance does play a role in the early stages of forming a relationship. The next day, Al Gore called her and asked her out for their first date.

However, physical attractiveness can only last that long. It is through interpersonal interactions can a relationship last. “One of the lessons here I’ve learned from her is a way to enrich my own experience of life by opening up to the heart as well as the head… she’s been a great teacher for me,” Al Gore about Tipper. You know you are in a healthy relationship when it is helping you to become better person. Material things cannot sustain one, because you need to talk to each other, to let the other person in on your life and your thoughts. Basically, you need to communicate, not only at the beginning of the relationship, but throughout, even after 50 years, communication is still the key to a lasting relationship.

According to friends of the couple, Al Gore and Tipper had apparently grown apart. That probably led to the lack of interaction between both of them. Tipper reportedly wants a quiet life enjoying the company of their grandchildren and travel while Al Gore  has no wish to slow down yet. Different in goals and what they want probably made them decide to split too.

It is common for couples to split in the early stages of marriage, or around the time when their children begin to leave home, but after so many decades together? The world’s oldest couple, Bertie and Jessie Woods, made history last year by divorcing when they had both reached the age of 98. Instead of enjoying their golden years with each other, why are grandparents following the trend of the youngsters nowadays and divorcing? With role model couples like Al Gore and Tipper going their separate ways after 40 years together, it certainly raises the uncertainty level of most couples, because you never know what will happen in the future.

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With technology advancing so quickly nowadays, it is no wonder the channels of communication have evolved from the use of email to chats to blogs to social networks and now Twitter. Why do we need so many ways of communication?

Curious as to how Twitter works and what is so addictive about it, I also created an account. My first tweet was, “Trying to figure how this works haha”. I logged out of it after that. Two days later, I logged in again out of boredom and tweeted, “I am bored.” And logged out again. The next day, I logged in again, because I decided I needed to be more active in Twitter. I started following hollywood artistes, friends, and random strangers I think whose tweets were interesting. I became a frequent user, though not participative in tweeting and replies, because I love reading random updated tweets on the go.

The thing about Twitter is that, it is a much faster medium for communication. It is a new form of blogging but unlike the latter which usually constitutes of lengthy posts, Twitter allows us to break down our thoughts and actions into smaller chunks. Because blogging requires time to sit down and recall back to events or thoughts to blog about, many people are lacking the luxury of time to do so nowadays. With Twitter, one can “blog” on the go, even posting up pictures to share with everyone. As a result, people are communicating on Twitter in real time.

As such, I think that Twitter is a great way to stay in contact with friends and families who are not with you physcially, ie. overseas. Overseas phone calls and sms-es are too extravagant if you want to do that everyday. Normal mails take too long to reach one side. E-mails, though are delivered faster, however because they are similar to letters just in electronic form, we tend to send more of it and thus each message is smaller than a typical letter. With twitter, you get to know what your friends are doing currently; it is like being in the same location with them at the same time. Furthermore, it facilitates two-way communication so you can reply instantly to their tweets and vice versa, making your talk real time.

Twitter can be used for for advertisements, social networking, up-to-minute news, stars to feel closer to their fans, and worthy causes. Just a month back, there was an owner who lost her dog and being a regular tweeter herself, she tweeted for help and posted descriptions of her missing dog. Friends immediately retweeted and so on, eventually, the owner managed to find back her dog, all thanks to the efficiency of Twitter world.

For me, it is a good way to kill time and boredom. The interesting tweets from OMGFacts and such keep me entertained and following my favourite hollywood stars make me feel like best friends with them. The simplicity and convenience of Twitter quickly made it the next big thing on the social networking technology. What is there not to like about Twitter anyway?

Ip Man 2

May 30, 2010

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Ip Man 2 is a semi-biographical martial arts film, based on the life of Ip Man, a grandmaster of Wing Chun martial arts. Continuing from where it left off, Ip Man 2 is a sequel to 2008’s Ip Man, focusing on Ip Man’s life in Hong Kong, which was under the British colonial rule.

When Ip Man first arrived in Hong Kong in 1949 to set up a martial arts school, he found out that the martial schools there operated like triads rather than respected institutions. He faced resistence from Master Hung, a fellow kungfu master who runs the entire martial arts fraternity and is being bullied by the Brtish authorities. Conflicts arose when Ip Man refused to give in to the way Master Hung runs the schools, but an insult from an English boxing champion and a East vs. West showdown made them come together as possible allies.

So what is this movie trying to teach us? Why is it so inspiring? For someone like me who normally watches English movies only, this was certainly an eye-opener for me. Besides the main focus of the East vs. West showdown and all the fast and cool kungfu moves, I guess essentially what Ip Man 2 is trying to portray to us is the spirit behind martial arts and the Chinese culture.

Firstly, even though Ip Man was facing poverty and in order to open a martial arts school, he had to pay a monthly fee to Master Hung, he refused to do so because he did not want to feed the selfish desires of Master Hung, even if that means facing opposition and conflicts with the latter. Now, how many of us would pick the easy way out? If paying a monthly fee means securing a smooth route to your future? Unfortunately, in this society now, many people would rather go with the flow than stand up for what they believe in. Especially so when people want to move up the career or social ladder.

Secondly, Twister, the English boxing champion, made snide remarks about Chinese martial arts and provoked the whole Chinese community. Though Ip Man was the main character of the show, the scene where Master Hung fought to his death with Twister, all for the sake of protecting the Chinese culture and martial arts, moved me. He could have easily thrown in the white towel, or let somebody take over his place in the ring when his stamina almost ran out, but no, he continued. Why? Because throwing in the towel would mean admitting that English boxing is superior to the Chinese kungfu. And as a leader, it was his duty to protect and fight for his race.

Finally, Ip Man took up Twister’s challenge for a final East vs. West showdown. He did not have to do it, afterall, was he not afraid of death? It was then when the entire Chinese community came together to support one another. Ip Man’s landlord actually let his wife and son stay with her just so he could focus on his training at home. With everyone’s hopes on him to fight back their lost pride, why did he take up the responsiblity? Initially my guess was that he was mad, no doubt, and he wanted to prove to the English that Chinese martial arts is just as good as boxing or even better. However, after winning the fight against Twister, Ip Man said, “今天的胜负,我不是想证明我们中国的武术,比西洋拳更加优胜。我只是想说,人的地位,虽然有高低之分,但是人格不该有贵贱之别。我很希望,从这一刻开始,我们大家可以学会懂得怎样去互相尊重”. In English, it means that he was not trying to prove that Chinese martial arts is better than the English, rather, even though there is a difference in social status, there should not be a difference in morality between a rich man or poor man, and that from now onwards, everyone should learn to respect one another. Ip Man did not fight for selfish reasons, he did not fight for fame, he did not fight to prove his kungfu was better, rather, he fought because he wanted fairness, he wanted the Chinese to be treated equally by the British even though the Chinese may be poorer. The battle between Ip Man and Twister was not just a fight between two men, rather, it’s a confrontation between two races. Ultimately, Ip Man won because he fought with the right attitude, and it further shows that the spirit behind martial arts is very important, and which was lacking in Twister.

In today’s society, everyone is so caught up with their own activities that we do not care enough about others’ lives. As a result, we have become increasingly self-centred and many times, we do things for selfish reasons, hoping to gain something out of it. The selfless attitude in Ip Man is clearly lacking in our world today. Why then were we so inspired and moved by the film? I guess because like all other shows, Ip Man 2 has a “good” side and the “bad” side, and the Whites were portrayed stereotypically as the evil and proud people looking down on the Chinese. And as much as we might be influenced by the Western culture, we actually feel a sense of pride when our Wing Chun martial arts defeated the English boxing.