Wednesday, October 26, 2016

[Short Story] Trying to get them all

Humans always loved badges, or collecting achievements, as some would put it. It started quite innocently, about a few hundred years ago. Clubs and organisations like the boy scouts used them to motivate and to determine the rank of their members. Games later adopted the method to keep people hooked unto the games and before long, organizations and companies began to adopt them en masse.

Their reasoning was that it promotes productivity and morale among employees. Achievements like "100 Days Without Sick Leave", "100 Sales Closed" and "3 Years and Going" became obsessions. Not surprising, considering how one's salary and promotion are tied to the achievements you get.

It would be only natural that soon governments begin adopting the approach, so to create a docile population. Life eventually became a achievement-collecting race, where everyone is caught in a never-ending pursuit. After all, one's worth is determined by the number of achievements you owned.

John, however, was the exception. For decades he has been trying to warn the public of the dangers of 'achievement whoring'. Be it through public forums, the online web or just plain shouting in the streets, he's done them all. They used to call it activism. He learned that while pursuing his 'Historical Scholar' achievement, which also ironically opened his eyes to the hypocrisy of the achievement system.

But people don't do activism anymore. Not when it could eliminate you from the chance of earning the tiered "Peace Loving" achievement, with increasing money payouts the higher you go on the achievement.

John was on it alone, calling out on the conspiracy.

He was out at one of his usual spots in uptown New York, with his holographic placard, when a black cruiser stopped next to him. Four individuals stepped out from the vehicle. They were dressed in black, as how people from shadowy organisations always do. John had a feeling that his gig was finally up.

They motioned John over and waited. John debated if he should follow them. In the end, he realized that it's best if he do. He sat in the middle of the cruiser as the one of the individual blindfolded him. The journey was quiet, tense.

When they removed his blindfold, he was in an empty warehouse room, with only one other individual a few feet from him, hidden in darkness.

"We've been watching you, John. All these talk about the Achievement System being a tool to keep the population in check. That it allows the government to control the people like sheep. That's dangerous talk, John." His voice cold, raspy.

"But it's all true right? How you use the system to create an obedient, submissive population. Bending them to whatever the government wills, masked in the form of achievements." John strained to make out the identity of the person.

"You're smart, John. And curious too. Too much for your own good. But..." the man's voice stopped. A box was slid towards John's feet. "Open it."

John studied the box. African black wood, carved intricately. A metal buckle held the box in the middle. He carefully unclasped it, revealing a gold emblem inside.

'The Undeceived.' The achievement above them all.

"Welcome to the organization, John," the individual extended his hand out from the darkness.

John took the hand with a smirk on his face. "Finally."

Originally posted at r/WritingPrompts

Friday, October 21, 2016

Musings: Post-3rd 2016 US Presidential Debate

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this blog are exclusively my own and do not represent any organisations that I am a part of

I've been following the 2016 elections closely since the Primaries kicked off. As someone who has never set foot in the US before, I find it strange how I was attracted to the US Presidential election this time round, considering how 2016's election may go down in history as the one that alters the course of modern civilization.

Personally, I enjoy seeing how people rationalise their decision in choosing their candidate, which is made more complex given how the two candidates are considered "unlikeable". More interestingly, we are also at a unprecedented time in history, where interest and opinions are shared freely, which in my opinion, is one major factor in determining how the election will turn out.

Mainly because as compared to the past, we have a more control in the information we consume. Unlike the past where we may be limited to physical newspapers or TV, where there is a common standard put in place to determine how information is dispersed,we now have the internet, where people are free to choose the type of information they consume.

This freedom to choose has led to a further polarisation of opinions among people.

Unlike mainstream mediums in the past, which are mostly guided by a set of principles, anything goes on the internet. You can make wild claims on the internet without fact checking, whipping up vague evidences or proof, and there's no real consequence awaiting you, unlike the pre-internet days.

In today's world, we gravitate towards what we're inclined to believe. The conservatives will consume the right hand views, while the liberals will go for the left hand views. In the US election case, Trump's supporters will go towards conservative news, while Hillary's will stick to more of the mainstream media and left wing views. To make things worse, social media feeds into this, curating stories that you're more likely to consume, further contributing to the polarisation.

The result? People who refuse to see beyond what they believe, only arguing along the lines that they're most comfortable with.

The 2016 election is not just about electing who's the lesser evil, it's also showcasing a widening rift between factions, people with different viewpoints, with little middle ground to tread on. Because we're so comfortable with our views, so afraid of the other that we stick religiously to one, refusing to entertain any contrary thoughts. Hardened in our own worldview. Not allowing any discussion.

And that, is the most dangerous thing of all.

First draft.

Monday, September 26, 2016

When is this Pokemon-GOing to stop? My story and a rant

Nah, I'm neither addicted nor obsessed. I'm just keeping fit.

What exactly am I trying to achieve here? Why do I like the game so much?

I ask myself the same question every single time I find myself outside, eyes focused solely on the screen of my phone, checking for nearby furry monsters to capture, my head plotting for the best path to walk.

Is it because I'm looking to prove that I can be good at something? Or is it because the game gives me an escapism from the bore of everyday life? Os is it recognition that I seek? I have no idea. Cheesy as it sounds, from the day I started to play the game, I knew I wanted to be one of the best, if not the best.

But unsurprisingly, despite it being labelled as a game, Pokemon Go mirrors the real life in many ways. Success does not come easy, as the game requires you to walk, travel and plan in order to be good. You'll need to make sacrifices, strategise and put in a considerable amount of effort in order to set yourself apart.

Then again, almost everything in life does. A hobby stops being a hobby the moment you decide to be serious in it.

It has been close to three months since I first started. And in this span of time, I have walked more than 275km (most of it, since I occasionally have my game on when I'm on buses or cars); caught 3,435 Pokemon and became someone that I used to hate in the orginal games: a bird-catcher-bug-keeper-youngster hybrid because of all the pidgeys, ratatas and bugs I caught.

Hours have been spent walking around Botanic Gardens and the nearby neighbourhood park, farming Pokemon and spinning Pokestops in the quest to level up. I don't consider Level 27 to be quite high, but still a considerable achievement nonetheless, stopping short of going full otaku on Pokemon Go by consistently camping at far flung locations known for their good spawn.

I don't know what my end point will be like — I don't expect myself to ever reach the fabled Level 40 — though I would really like to picture myself consistently conquering and maintaining gyms around Singapore. A feat that is sadly close to impossible right now no matter which gym you take, due to the high amount of cheaters currently in the game.

I foresee that the cheaters will most likely be the reason I'll stop playing the game one day, because when you spend so much time and effort to be good in the game, only to face someone with a whole Dragonite army just by sitting at home, it can get quite discouraging sometimes.

Because seriously, just take a walk around Singapore and look at all the Singapore gyms. A Pokemon that is supposed to be the rarest is in fact one of the most common around. I'm willing to bet a good amount of money that at least 50% of the active Singapore players are using some form of GPS spoof or bot.

My strongest 9 Pokemon so far (not even a Dragonite T.T)

*takes a deep breath*

But still, somehow I will continue playing though, hoping that maybe one day the cheaters will get bored of the game and leave the game to us forever alone legit players. That or maybe I'll succumb to temptation and join the dark side one day. Like they say, either you'll quit as a legit player or play long enough to become a cheater.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How about we go to church only once per month?

With so many believers, you'd expect all major world problems like poverty and prejudice to be solved by now

One of the central tenets of being a Christian is that you need to attend church every single Sunday, 52 weeks a year. It's an unspoken rule that someone who is looking to be called a Christian needs to be a regular church goer. There's no quicker way to earn disapproving glances and panicked interventions than missing church services on a consistent basis.

Debate on this issue swings between two extreme ends. On one hand you have people arguing that the Bible asks us to meet regularly with one another and that we are part of the same body, but on the other hand, you have naysayers who counter by asking where in the Bible did it mention that the meetings between believers need to be in a physical building.

Perhaps the bigger question that we should be asking is: Does regular church attendance make any difference in our lives and the lives of others? 

As someone who spent 19 years of his life religiously attending church every single weekend and watching people around him do the same, I would say that regular church attendance do make a difference in our own lives, but not to others. The impact of regular church attendance seems to be mostly limited to ourselves.

Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I observe, people mostly go to church out of an unspoken obligation, like how a husband would accompany his wife to grocery shopping every Saturday evening because it's his job. Maybe it's a checkbox that they need to constantly tick off out of the fear of an eternal hellfire. Maybe going to church gives them this assurance that they're doing good, that they're not wasting their life away. Or to just bask in the company of others.

Personally, I feel that this feeling good about yourself is missing a bigger point of Christianity: Being the salt and light of the world.

I am not against the idea of a weekly church gathering, but I feel that it's making Christians more exclusive than inclusive, sort of like a country club minus the golf course. Because one needs to undergo a ritual in order to be accepted into the club, not to mention having to pay monthly membership fees in order to be respected in the club.

Other than that, all the club ever does every Sunday is to sing songs together, listen to some words from their leader, engage in some after service CCA like music lessons for example and then it's everyone back home for the rest of the week. Rinse and repeat.

And don't try to bullshit me by saying that one important part of going to church is to be close to God. If the god you believe is omnipotent and omnipresent, tying God down to a physical location seems to be quite the contradiction.

After all, didn't Jesus say in Matthew 18:20 that "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them"? He surely did not mention that "... when two or three gather in A CHURCH in my name." (A church is kinda of a human creation, me believes)

The weekly church gathering today is not accomplishing much, in fact,in has made Christianity regress as a whole than progress. Just take a look during the times of the apostles and Paul. They were travelling everywhere, planting communities wherever they go. Those communities in a turn send out their own members once they're mature, causing a chain reaction that sets off an explosive growth around the world, doing good and spreading joy in their journey.

Today, we're more comfortable being in the comfortable sanctuaries than being out there, happy to keep the status quo. Much like the pharisees of the old.

That, however, does not mean that we should throw away everything and be missionaries or evangelicals. The point I am trying to make here is that the church has so much more power to do good if we could just allow it. Not in the far reaches of earth but rather just in the neighbourhood around you.

Just think of it. How different it would be if two or three weeks in the month, members of a church devote their time to accomplishing a good cause? Cleaning up the litter in a section of the city, setting up a mobile soup kitchen for the homeless or giving kids from a nearby slum tuition classes, for example.The possibilities are endless.

How much positive energy can the church bring if we could consistently embark on this? Actions speak louder than words. Rather than just sitting in the pews just passively listening to sermons week in and week out, why not turn it into concrete action instead? What better way to foster a community of Christians than to do things together, for a good cause?

The church has lost most of its shine today. Despite having megachurches with tens of thousands in attendance, we seem more concerned with ourselves than the society around us. We go to church week in and week out, but for many, despite years of attending church, we're no better than when we started. We became comfortable.

And in turn, the church has become a passive structure, a rigid organisation that is only concerned with the survival of itself. Perhaps it's time for a change.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

In blind defense of Duterte

Suppose you have a friend. And this friend is immensely successful. He runs a global charity that has lifted thousands of people out of poverty in the most rural places on earth. Many look up and respect him for the work he does, especially those whom he lifted out of poverty. To them, he is like a godsend figure. He brought order and stability to their lives when there was none.

But also suppose that this friend of yours, in his noble quest to eliminate poverty, also has another calling. He runs a very successful stray dogs killing business in addition to his charity. To him, stray dogs are nothing but a nuisance to the people he's trying to help. They compete for the same food, the dogs sometimes attack the people and they carry diseases.

Killing the dogs is no different from cleaning the streets, he argues. And kill the dogs he does. Either through direct shooting or hacking to death, his men are efficient.Video after video was shared on how the dogs would be shot, strangled or slashed to death in this quest of his. Soon, streets were filled with bodies of stray dogs as a result of his campaign.

Naturally there are those who are not happy. They argue that dogs have rights too and do not deserve this systematic execution by your friend. It's not right and cruel, they claim. The method is inhumane.

His supporters, on the other hand, beg to differ. These dogs deserve death because they have been terrorizing residents after all. He's making life easier for these underprivileged people by cleaning up the streets. They argue that outsiders who have not lived through their lives before should not judge and that at least he's doing good in bringing stability to them.

What's some dog killing if he can do his other part of the job well? If you need something done, sacrifices need to be made. It just so happens that these dogs need to die.

But must that be the case? How about the rats who carry more disease? How about some pet dogs who are mistakenly killed? Does the end always justify the mean?


I'm no Filipino, and I admit that I would not understand how it is like to live in the Philippines with all these threats and chaos that many Filipinos claimed to have been brought under control by President Duterte.

I won't call his actions wrong — I suspect that he may have an unpleasant experience with drugs before that gave rise to this tough attitude against it — but it's this whole invulnerability that he is projecting that gives me pause. It's as if that as long as he is delivering results, he cannot be questioned, no matter how much the body count rises.

This is easily reflected in a lot of sentiments I see online, particularly from Filipinos. They are very defensive of Duterte, and they tend to get very offended whenever someone criticises Duterte. "You don't understand how is it like in the Philipines" and "At least he is delivering results" are the two most common retort that basically shuts down any other form of discourse. It's as if no one is allowed to question him, simply because he is delivering results.

To me, it's worrying.

I know results matter, but the way you do it matters too. Because today it may be drug users, but what if tomorrow it becomes anyone who practices religion? Or people who are Jews? Or those deemed "enemy of the state"? Or anyone who does not practices Islam? Or immigrants?

You may argue that they are different, but at the core, they are playing on the same emotions and mentality. A group of people are labelled as the enemy, the reason why society is rotting. And because they're causing the rot, they should be viewed in sub-human standards, not deserving of the rights that we enjoy. They are not humans, and deserved to be killed. Society will do better if we purge them away.

It's easy to subscribe to this thinking, as along as you're not the one being hunted. But what's stopping that from happening? What if one day you wake up and for whatever reason you are now the enemy of society? It's dangerous when you ascribe all the power and decision making to only one man. Because if history is of any indication, blindly following one man and his visions don't always end well.

But we never seem to learn. As long as it's the dogs and not us who are being killed out there, we're fine with it. We always do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 29: Am I the very best yet?

I want to be the very best... It turns out that when thousands of people are humming the same tune as you, being the very best isn't actually as easy as a Gameboy journey. Especially when you have to contend with people who do not have to sleep, work or simply have the magical powers to teleport around whenever and wherever.

Yet you continue to persevere, because you believe that authentic hardwork will pay off one day. With a wild hope in your heart, you imagine yourself catching that elusive 3500CP Dragonite and finally becoming the Pokemon master you have always dreamt of since young.

This is a really bad picture edit

But with each CP10 Pidgey and Ratata that fills up your screen every time you go Pokemon hunting, you're beginning to wonder if that Pokemon master dream is achievable at all. Your strongest Pokemon is a CP1000+ Vaporeon that you were lucky enough to evolve from an Eevee because it only takes 25 candy. Every gym that you see, on the other hand, contains Pokemon that are way out of your league.

CP2900 Dragonite? Another CP1900 Snorlax? Or a Gyarados? Where do all these people get such strong Pokemons anyway? Do they camp day and night at Hougang?

It's not like you don't try. Every weekend when you have the time, you drag either your friend or family who doesn't really like Pokemon down to the nearby park with you. There, you walk in circles continuously, hoping that lady luck will eventually smile on you and grant you a rare and strong Pokemon that everyone but you seem to have.

Despite how many Weedles, Ratata, Caterpie or Pidgey that appear, you continue to hold out the hope that maybe, just maybe, the next Pokemon you catch will be a game changer. Day after day, week after week.

And out of the blue on any other weekend, you began to feel something different. People around you who are holding their phones upright began to sound more excited. There are murmurs of a rare Pokemon nearby. Some of them began pointing and moving towards a certain direction.

With nothing to lose, you decide to follow the crowd. That's when you begin to hear the name of the rare Pokemon. The murmurs began growing louder, until an excited voice accidentally shouted the Pokemon's name out. Dragonite!

You check your phone of the sightings nearby. This better not be one of those stupid pranks. And true enough, among the Pidgey and Ratata sightings that you're so used to, a black shadow of a Pokemon stood. Your heart is beating anxiously now as you try to locate it. You try to see where the crowd is the most dense, and start to make your way to it.

In your head, you're imagining how life would change with a Dragonite. Gyms will no longer be a problem and you even began to entertain the thought of finally earning Pokecoins from the gym. And then, the all too familiar vibration. You raise your phone up to study the screen, praying to whatever Pokegod up there that it's not another stupid Weedle.

And just there at the edge of the circle, you see a orange greenish Pokemon with wings. You hear a few gasps around you. It was unmistakenly Dragonite. The Pokemon that everyone would kill to have.

Not wanting to waste even a single second, you immediately tap on the Pokemon, holding your breath. And there it is, the strongest Gen 1 Dragon, with all its form and glory. A Pokemon that you have seen so many people own, but never yourself. And right next to its name, the CP reads the magical "???".

This is it, you tell yourself. You cannot afford to screw this one up. All your Pokeball flipping brings you down to this very moment. A dance with Dragonite.

Instinctively, you tap your bag and start your first move with a Razz Berry. That berry better do its job. The hearts pop up, signalling that the Pokemon is ready for the catch. Next, you open up your bag again, and switch your Pokeball for Ultra Balls. A rare Pokemon like Dragonite requires the best balls you have, pun not intended. It's such a shame they don't have Master Ball in the game.

Balls ready, you begin to position your finger, eyes not leaving the Dragonite, hoping to land the best shot that you can muster. The inner circle is red now, signalling the difficulty of your catch. You keep your eyes intently on the size of the circle and just when it contracts to about half the size if the outer white circle, an inner voice shouts "Now!" and you instinctively throw the ball.

The Ultra Ball lands perfectly in the middle of the circle and a "Great!" message pops out. You're still holding your breath, because you know that it doesn't usually change anything. Dragonite then dissolves in a bright flash of red, disappears into the Ultra Ball and then the ball drops unto the ground. Moment of truth.

Around you, there were shouts of joy mixed with disappointed sighs, but you couldn't care less. All that matters is the Ultra Ball in front of you.

One twitch, two twitch... you could almost feel your heart stop beating... and then the familiar click, followed by the display of stars. For a moment, you stood there in silence, wondering if what you're seeing is real. The screen changes to a box, and unmistakenly, you caught it. 500XP for a new Pokemon. A wave of emotions began washing over you. You want to jump, shout, laugh and cry all at the same time.

Dragonite. The long awaited Dragonite. Ever since the first day you started Pokemon Go. You could already picture the rest of your adventure. Gym victory after gym victory. Pokecoins starting to flow in. Suddenly, being the very best doesn't seem like a distant dream anymore.

The game does the routine after catching a new Pokemon. The Dragonite is registered to your Pokedex and you're then brought to the screen detailing the stats of your newly caught Pokemon. You can't possibly feel happier with this catch. It's going to a whole new journey from here onwards.

Until you saw the top corner of your screen.

Dragonite, CP174.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Middle of the Bell Curve Existential Crisis

I love to dance. But...

But what?

I don't dance as well as others.

So? I thought you enjoyed dancing. Isn't that what matters?

Yeah, I enjoy it. I love dancing, how my body moves to the rhythm of the music, sweating it out. But I can't help but to feel a pang of jealousy and pressure when I see better dancers out there. How they are so quick to learn the moves, even add in their own flavours, while I struggle to even memorise the steps or move correctly. I just feel that I'm not good enough.

And that is an issue because?

I don't know. Maybe it's the recognition that the better dancers are getting. Maybe it's how people look up to them in awe and congratulate them for being good at it, when my love for dancing is not less as theirs. I don't like how they are able to make their passion their living, while I can't. I'm always the awkward backup dancer who's there just because.

You know you can practice and improve yourself right? To be as good as them?

Yes, I know. But that's not entirely my gripe either.

And what other gripes you may have?

I take issue with how life is an unforgiving bell curve. No matter what we do or where we go or what attributes we measure, almost all of the time we are able to fit into a comfortable bell curve. Be it dancing, coding, studying, or even the ability to make money. There will always be people at the top, the high achievers and over performers, followed by the average ones and lastly the under-performers.

We constantly compare to others because of this bell curve, almost all of us wanting to be at the top.

I am going to sound like a bitter dick here but I hate how life rewards those at the top and how there's not one single aspect in life where we can be all equal. Equality is myth, really, a notion that we in the middle create to try to soothe ourselves that we're not that bad. That we have a worth. When in actual sense the higher you go the worthier you are.

Perhaps the key is to stop comparing then? To just do what you want because you love it, instead of hoping for anything in return?

How am I supposed to do that, when our society constantly celebrates those on top of the bell curve. Have ever seen any news feature on the slowest runner in the Olympics or the guy who constantly struggles when he try to sing? No! It's the fastest dude who wins the gold medal and gets a lifelong pension, not the runner who came in last.

To be honest, that's the whole point of life really, to find the bell curve where you're at the top, so you can reap the most rewards there. Life is not about doing what you love, it's about doing what you're good at. Because no matter how much you love dancing, running or gaming, if you cannot be the top, you might as start choosing another passion.

We humans have this flawed perception that if we're passionate at something, we'd naturally be good at it, when it's often not the case.

That's a really bleak way of looking at life. What point are you exactly trying to make, then?

I don't know. I feel that something is broken, or that I'm just a bitter old soul who's jealous of the success of others, but at the same time is not willing to put in the hard work to compensate for other people's talent. Maybe I am envious of those who success come to them easily.

You know that's not how life works right?

Yes, and that's why I curse it. I long for the day or a life where I can just spend the entire day only doing what I love, without worrying about whether it is productive or beneficial. Just plain enjoying myself. I know this type of thinking is indulgently selfish and paints us as slaves to our hormones, which is why here I am, having this discussion with you.

You may be right, but that's not the only way to look at this. Perhaps the bell curve is a system that pushes humanity forward, and by rewarding those who are at the top, we are continuously improving ourselves as a whole. Be it in science, progress or innovation, it's the people at the top that make humanity better.

I don't deny that it may seem unfair to those not in the top but it's a necessary evil. The one thing that sets man apart is our constant desire to improve and to be better than the next person, and this motivation is the ever-burning fuel to our progress as a species. If you take this away, we'll forever remain stagnant, perhaps still living in caves.

Maybe. I guess the question we should be asking is how can we be more inclusive of the low performers in life or should life be just left like that, because having consequence of being at the bottom of the bell curve will push people to move up?

That's a whole different topic altogether.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Is Buying Second Hand Worth it?

The internet has made it easier than ever to buy anything you want. You can choose to buy new or used items on various websites including auction sites. This guide will answer the question "is buying second-hand worth it?". Read this guide to learn about the common pitfalls when buying various products second hand.

What are you Buying
When you are trying to decide whether or not it's a good idea to buy a product second hand, you will first have to think about what you are buying. If you are buying a vacuum cleaner for example then you might not want to buy used because it might not have the suction power it used to have. You might also want to be cautious when buying used or second hand baby items because these might not always be hygienic.

If you buy a second hand product from a high street shop like Cex or London Camera Exchange, then you might also get a guarantee. This will make it safer to buy a used item since if it goes wrong, it will still be covered by a guarantee. Make sure you find out how long the guarantee lasts for. Also be aware that when you buy from auction sites, most items will not have any form of guarantee to protect you.

Is it Good Value?
Compare the amount of money that you will save buying a second hand item compared to buying the same item new. Also make sure you consider the added benefit you will get from buying the new item especially if there is a new improved model available. Ideally you should get a substantial saving buying a used item.

Make your Own Mind up about Used Items
Whether or not it's worth buying something second hand is a very personal question that only you can answer. Sometimes you can get a brilliant deal when buying something used, but other times the small saving you make doesn't make it worthwhile. Decide for yourself whether or not it's beneficial for you to buy a used product.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The NUS Orientation Saga: Everyone is looking for someone to blame

Picture from ST

The whole NUS orientation saga has been filling my newsfeed for the past two weeks. Not surprising, really, considering how many of my friends (me included) were once from NUS. And as someone who has both participated and organised freshmen camp before, you could say I have a personal stake in this.

From The New Paper's first report on the "rape forfeit" all the way to the blanket ban on all orientation activities, I have been closely watching reactions from both sides, students and members of the public. Naturally, both sides are not happy at all at the outcome. Some even furious.

Students are unhappy that the majority are penalised for the actions of a few, while the public are unhappy at how outrageous some of the orientation activities are. To the public, NUS orientation has suddenly become a place where hormones run wild, where students engage in pervert activities (taken from real ST comments) instead of doing what they should: studying.

I don't blame both sides for being unhappy at how things have turned out. And I can empathize with the university administration for using the blanket ban approach to this situation. What else could they do when after warning is given, students still proceed to do whatever they liked (dunking people into a pond, in this matter)?

What I do feel, however, is that we are too quick to blame the other side for what have happened, without truly understanding the perspective of the other side.

From the students' perspective, I understand how unfair it would seem to have your entire orientation taken away just because some irresponsible party decided to flout the rules. I understand that some may be angry at those who reported the activities. You may think that you know what you're doing, that the old people do not understand you. I was once in that position, wondering why the need to submit so many proposals to the university administration just for one orientation camp.

But the rules are there for a reason. As much as you may hate the procedures, there are set up to protect you and the orientation camps. In your mind you may just want to have some fun, but there are always consequences when it comes to fun. In the eyes of the older generation, teenagers are not to be trusted because they're brash and impulsive. You deciding to flout the rules is just giving the reason for the administration and the public to clamp down more.

As for many of the commentators on ST and CNA, I'm sorry that you see orientation and universities as places of evil. As someone who has been through it before, I can tell you that the good outweighs the bad significantly. For many of us, university life was made much more bearable because of orientation. And trust me that the banging girls is not the only thing we have in mind (though it was something a young me was open to) when it comes to orientation.

Do not simply trust what the media may say, as orientation goes way deeply that what is portrayed in the mainstream. This is what something that many students, including your children if they have attended it, can testify to.

I admit that orientation activities are not perfect. Some do flout the rules knowingly in the name of fun, and these people deserve to face the music. After all, uni is the best place to learn that every action comes with a consequence. But to judge the entire student body, and to go as far as asking for students to be named, shamed and expelled is surely a little extreme.

After all, haven't we all been through the period where we're feeling rebellious and exploratory before? It's all part of growing up. Why must we be so vindictive when it comes to people making mistakes?

To be honest, seeing this entire debate made me lose a little faith in humanity. The real danger of the world today is not that everyone is getting their voice, but rather everyone thinking that their voice should be prioritized above that of everyone else. In the process of wanting our to be be heard, we have forgotten to listen as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My #GoBearDream: Financial Freedom

Debt is a scary word. It's even a scarier situation to be in. I know it, because at the young age of 23, I had the unfortunate experience of being saddled with student debt, something that continues to affect me until today.

If given a choice to go back in time, I wished someone would have told me more about this entire debt thing. Maybe teach me a thing or two about getting out of debt effectively. Because life can be quite a downer when you constantly have to worry about having enough balance in your bank account for the monthly debt repayment.

Nevertheless, being in debt did teach me valuable life lessons, with one of it being the importance of not spending beyond your own means. And slowly that life lesson evolved into a goal and dream that I want to have in life: To be able to live freely without worrying about my finances or money.

Not many people may realise this, but when you spend beyond your means, for example recklessly charging your credit cards without any serious financial planning, you're essentially borrowing from your future. And if you're not careful, you may find yourself being a slave to repaying your debt.

Many people have fallen into this kind of trap, only to have their lives severely limited by the money they owe others. Without financial freedom and planning, you may not be able to do a lot of things in life. Travels, hobbies and passion may all be need to put on hold.

Which is why my dream is to be financially free. To be able to do what I want in life without the worry of money. Because when money is the last concern, the possibilities are endless.

What's your dream in life?

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