Being Singaporean,  Bitching

Suffering the Wrath of Singapore’s Online Lynch Mob

Online mob lynching in Singapore is turning out to be a weekly event nowadays, and I have to say, our newly formulated pastime of vigilante justice come with very dire consequences; it’s
got people leaving the country, getting
or losing their university scholarships. And just for this week, we’ve got our by now named and shamed secondary school boys in the Woodlands Regional Library nursing room debacle keeping everyone’s mouths wagging. But the Blogfather has been particularly interested in the story whom Alvinology endearingly terms the “#SGBreastfeedingBoys“.

The story as it unfolds carries at its core a stark contrast in parenting behaviour: the calm and resilience of a mother whose child needs her, versus a moral (and at present, literal) absence of the 2 “handsome” boys’ parents.?Indeed, the absence is immediately and very much felt by the public, undoubtedly fuelled by one of the boys’ closing taunt that his parents are “very important people”. Amidst calls for the offending boys’ parents to step up to address their children’s behaviour, a number of commentors have also put in their pleadings against the mob lynching, saying they’re just “boys being boys”, and that their young lives may thus come undone by the public insistence that justice be served, by whatever means necessary.

Indeed, a certain amount of leeway should be exercised for careless, brainless moments such as this, but considering these boys’ folly was 14 years in the making (that’s how old the boys are), it does beg the question, what have their parents been doing (or not doing) all this time? At the same time,?a bigger, much darker question looms; what’s going to happen to these boys? In the heat of the moment, and at the peak of our angst, few will know or care… unless you happen to be the boys’ parents. Then as much as you’ve neglected your parenting responsibilities up till now, you will inevitably be spending the better part of your immediate time dealing with the answer.

Our modern methods of mob lynching
scare the shit out of me (this coming from a guy who claims to have no time to entertain fear). In medieval times, you commit a social booboo, you’d get stoned or burned at the stake, your life ends there, finish, kaput. These days, you commit a social booboo, you get your face plastered online, your name mocked and smeared in mud, your entire future turned into a big question mark, regardless of whether you repent or not. Your life as you know it potentially ends here.

But it’s not finished. It’s not kaput. You probably can “reboot”; change your name, move to another country. But you still have to live with the memory and knowledge that an entire community, society, perhaps an entire country, has rejected you. I don’t know which is worse.

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