The Fall Of Societies

PREFACE

Personal Dwellings

I have to disclaim that writing about the functionalities of communities ain’t my forté, and what I’m doing here is simply publishing right out of my alley. I’m no doctor nor professional analyst, for what most would call what those people do, but I’m just one of them who had been intrigued by this topic of study for a couple of years now, and I believe I wanna write down what I had found so far. I have to admit though that my thoughts can go all over the place so, some headings seem not to kinda link to each other. My language isn’t proficient as well to express my ideas.

An Introduction to Technology

It has become increasingly obvious to anyone that with the advent of rapid advancements in technology, our human-to-human interaction started to fall apart. These advancements in technology would essentially include the usual social media platforms we use everyday, the addictive mobile games that we have on our phones, and entertainment applications such as YouTube. These mobile applications are accessible anywhere so long as you still have some of that charge on your mobile phone. It is no doubt that in the oblivion of the masses of people utilising these, not only do they play a huge part in our modern lives, they also consume the social aspects of them. Well, if you are unaware of how troubling this is, if by any chance you are at the dinner table with your friends or family whilst reading this, I bet that a majority at the table are staring at their mobile screens at the current moment.

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein

Social Media

My Take

While I do agree that this advancement in technology brings some benefit in bringing our loved ones far away closer, at the same time, it does in a way push those close to us farther. Saying this, I still do believe that it is a double-edged sword starting to grow sharper on one side, and blunter on the other. This is something that I personally take as an extremely worrying issue because not only does it eat up our lives, it is starting to integrate into our lively routines as if it had always been. It is integrating to the point where we are dipping into an age where passion becomes only interest. Interest becomes routine. And routine becomes chore.

typical interior of smrt train

Take for example the role of social media for instance. I have to admit it’s something closer to me since I am a victim myself. Social media is a place where I find most of my comfort. On Facebook especially, I can find funny videos and pictures all at one go on my news feed, and Instagram where I can go all out creative with my photos. The problem here is that initially, from platforms that help me update my friends on what I’m currently doing, they turn into popularity-greed tools. With reference to the popularity idea, over time, social media start to appeal to the narcissistic side of people which start to grow and overwhelm them. This means that users don’t go to social media for information on their close ones’ well-being, but rather go there to check on the number of likes or followers they have. Contrary to some belief, these numbers do actually result in users worrying about the syntax of how these numbers grow and fall. It’s funny because eventually the amount of concern they put into these numbers grow to become much more significant than the amount of concern they put into the issues they are facing in real-life, and this is already an example of how social media is already starting to occupy a huge part of our lives. As a consequence, these users tend to post content that would get a lot of attention to maintain their “numbers”.

On Passion and Sincerity

Nowadays, content that would get a lot of attention are those that appeal to people’s pathos, or the emotional aspect. A really good example would be volunteer work. While volunteer work is a good thing, making it a big thing over on social media can spoil it. Taking reference to the idea of popularity, obviously, the insincerity of the person doing the work can be highlighted in the over-emphasising of the “good” work he or she had done in the bid to get more attention. This is an example of how passion subsides to become a chore. A chore in trying to attend as much volunteer work and get as much media coverage as possible to share it with people online. Social media does a great job in a way in creating a barrier where people pretend to be someone they are not. How does this contribute to the fall of a society? Well, if social media already set the trend, we can only expect more “insincerities” in the next generation thereafter, and we can only watch this tradition grow. This is a bad thing especially if we want to see a harmonious community in the future connected by strong passion and belief to help one another in terms of volunteer work.

With relation to content-making, in the light of a couple of funeral events for the past few years, you can see huge numbers of people whipping out their phones to record almost every single moment of the funeral. This is starting to be sort of the trend now, and it’s sad because the tradition and the elements of sorrow and forlorn in the funeral service would just eventually disappear over time. Life will just turn into one whole concert. The problem here is that once a community abandons its traditions, you can only expect its downfall.

“Social media sites creates an illusion of connectivity .” – Malay Shah

Human Interaction

On Comparison

In the past year, my family and I went on trips to a couple of cities overseas which included Bali (well it’s technically an Island), Busan, and Seoul. For me, there was a really huge contradiction between these cities, and it came to me as a big surprise.

Bali

Bali, the most technologically underdeveloped region among the three, consists of quite a number of villages that are still trapped behind time amidst all of the development of the top-tiered cities of the country. We cycled down Mount. Kintamani and followed a tour where we passed by a couple of traditional Balinese villages and communities. It was quite a heart-warming experience. As we passed by houses, children and people would come out and flail their arms in the air and greet us, and this happened not only in a particular single community, but multiple communities as we cycled down the roads. We would also see kids running around the fields and pathways playing their own mini games as they should be, and grown ups grinning at them as they play.

balinese man construcing balinese village house.jpg

It is quite evident here that instilled in every villager here is the sense of community, working together to get through with life affairs, and at the same time, striving to become happy while doing so. It’s surprising that they don’t need the help of technology in doing so.

Busan

Moving on to Korea, we visited the cities of Busan and Seoul. Although both of the cities are situated in the same country, the two cities do differ quite significantly in a number of ways. For Busan, I noticed that there was a higher percentage of elderly people as compared to Seoul. Keeping in mind the higher proportion, usually, we would assume that the elderly are not the kind of IT savvy group of people, and so largely, Busan’s population is not really hyped with all of the technology. In the subways of Busan, I had a very unique commuting experience. Most of the commuters didn’t really have their phones with them. Instead, they would talk to the person next to them and ask about how they’re doing, how they’re coping with life, and sometimes, they would share stories of their own as well. As an added bonus, there were multiple times when the elderly would actually offer to have my youngest sister on their laps throughout the train journeys and I thought that it was something very sweet.

I remember finally getting a seat next to this elderly man after standing for a long period of time. Well, I was minding my own business staring blankly towards the floor when he started gently tugging my black glove that I was wearing on my left hand. In my head I was thinking, “What is this guy trying to do?”

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I mean it was out of nowhere and I didn’t know the man at all. So I turned my head towards him with the “confused-stare” look and he immediately asked me with a smile in a soft, frail voice, “Cold?” I replied with a simple nod of the head.

He went on to ask, “Where you are from?”

“Singapore,” I acknowledged.

With a heart-warming grin on his face, “Welcome in Busan.”

He continued by asking for my age and he started talking about the things that he did when he was my age. He also shared about his work life and stories when he was transitioning into his work life. It was evident he was not proficient in English but he did make the effort to form coherent sentences for me to understand. I went ahead to ask for his age and to my surprise, for such a fit looking person, he claimed that he was 72 years of age. For me the fact that he was 72 is surprising for me since he probably saw the war happened when he was a kid.

After a little bit of story sharing, the train finally reached his intended stop. He gave a small bow, stepped outside of the train onto the platform, and waited for the train to leave. Only when the train left, he gave a small bow and waved at me with the same heart-warming grin on his face.

I guess I can say that what really made my trip here in Busan memorable was the people. How they made me feel like I’m no stranger here, and made no one else feel like a stranger here. I really do believe that the impact the people and then culture left on me here is really something that I will not forget for a long time.

Seoul

Seoul is probably a city that I would safely compare with Singapore. A city going through rapid development, having a very tech-savvy population, and behind the concrete urban jungle, there’s all sorts of cultural elements. To my shock, when I arrived in Seoul from Busan, I notice that there was a change in culture, I would say. It had begun to remind me of Singapore. Commuters all focused on their mobile screens. I didn’t at all have the same experience and hospitality that I received in Busan (not that I expected really).

Precision

On The Smallest Of Things

Thanks to analog, we now have good degree of precision be it in calculation or checking the time. In precision, we tend to care for the smallest of digits, and the smallest of things, and in this, we make the smallest of things look big, in a way. Sadly, while precision does have its benefits, we human tend to take the psychology and thinking from this and apply it wrongly to real-life. Take the time to scroll down Facebook and read the comments sections of articles that mainly talk about “new measures” or “new initiatives”. Even if the article talks about initiatives that actually benefits the community and public, there are bound to be comments that actually find a way in complaining about the matter. This growing culture of complaining is worrying since it is drowning out the amount of appreciation that we have for the good things that we have currently, and this is just something that deviates us from the golden principles and traditions that we had.

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Fin

What This Means

I read this article on The Straits Times last week about how Singapore isn’t the same as it was back in the 1960s. It described how development destroyed the “kampung spirit” that we have in Singapore. In a way, this can be attributed to the advancements in technology that we are currently experiencing. How so? As I described, technology such as social media plays a part in drenching our minds in self-interest, and it is this self-interest that leads to the breaking up of communities. Along with this, without us knowing, it invites us to slowly walk away from our past traditions, as well as moral values.

So What

We need to pay attention and study the human-to-hardware interaction, and make ourselves understand that whatever happens in the hardware itself is something separate from how we get through with our lives. In gaming terms, it’s sorta like an extra DLC to a game. In order for our next generation to not be consumed by such a technology, we need to make them understand the ethics and morals of such technology usage in a bid to not allow them to be faced with these extra negative side-effects.

If this were to continue, in the future, we can only see ties of kinship be severed, and people will only free those whom they only know, and we will witness the fall of societies.

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