BTW, I have a new blog #shamelessplug

Yeah, I’m not a regular here, and yet I’m setting up another blog?

Well, when I first started out this blog here, I had visions of grandeur where its content would be serious (e.g. commentaries about the economy and society etc.), and to one point even thinking about getting people to collaborate as contributors.

Of course, that didn’t happen. And eventually this blog became some sort of a wasteland of random posts with random, casual ideas (or rants). So the blog has took its form of being a personal, casual site.

Now then. what about For Tomorrow Is Here? How does that come about?

The idea to start writing monthly about current topics relevant to the future was an outcome of a mentoring programme at work, where this is sort of a personal KPI for the year to “be equipped and be prepared for the future workplace”, besides fulfilling another personal KPI of improving in communicating ideas with clarity.

Such a write-up would be inclined to the serious side of things, and hardly have a place in this blog, so I started a new site instead.

The first post on that site, From What I Heard: Initial Coin Offerings, was supposed to be written in January 2018. But it seems that procrastination got the better of me, besides of the busier schedule. The idea to write about ICOs though was first implanted in November 2017 during the YCM 9th Summit 2017 event, where one of the speakers – Ehon Chan ended his talk with a call to action, “Get yourself educated with ICOs,” in response to the zeitgeist of the time back then – Bitcoin just hit its $8,000 mark 2 days prior to the event.

However, it wasn’t until an article from The Edge Weekly for the February 19, 2017 edition (came early because I subscribed) that finally got me to start working on the article. Before that, I was just sitting on some sites that I found, on top of a rough outline on how the article should be written. It was as if the article from The Edge Weekly was a confirmation, or rather a loud signal, a rude awakening that I have stalled the writing for rather too long.

But anyway, yeah, this is an update from me. Go check out the site. #shamelessplug

So what happens to this though? Would I forsake writing here in lieu of writing there?

Well, to begin with, my last post was 8 months ago, so this site is more forlorn that forsaken. Then again, I think the casualness of this site allows for a less serious form of writing, such as discussing how the idea for those serious posts on the other site came about, like I just did.

Perhaps, there is some life in this site with the creation of another after all.

I’ll see you here, and on the other site. :p

P.S. By the way, did I mention the use of 42 in the new site’s URL is semi-intentional? :p

One song sparked this post

First and foremost, I would like to declare my love for communal singing.

Yes, you heard me right. Singing in a community, a group of people. There is something beautiful about singing along with a crowd.

Then again, many too. One of the most prominent example is a concert.

Another place where you can find communal singing is in a faith-based setting.

And of course, when the national anthem is sung…

Now, this post came about after a news report of the Malaysian Ministry of Education’s directive to introduce a new song to be sung during public schools’ weekly assemblies, in addition to the national anthem (as posted above), state song and school song.

Personally, I have nothing against singing patriotic songs in a public school setting (although many others would have differing opinions about singing patriotic songs, or could not care less about it). That being said, I believe there is some sort of line drawn on this matter: as long as singing the song made sense in terms of meaningfulness of the lyrics, and the practicality of singing the song (which includes appropriateness).

With that line declared, let’s go back to the song in question – Aku Negaraku.

Right off the bat, I thought that this song, composed by Audi Mok with lyrics by Shazee Ishak and Ad Samad, has a fairly catchy rhythm and upbeat tempo, distinguishing itself from the usually-perceived monotonous a la marcia patriotic songs like Jalur GemilangKeranamu Malaysia or Wawasan 2020.

It is indeed an attempt to appeal to the younger generation, to instill and stir up some sense of patriotism.

But as much as I applaud for the effort to revitalise the patriotic song-making scene (if there’s such a thing), I could not see the rationale of mandating public school students to sing this song during weekly assemblies, from a musical standpoint. And I believe the creators of the song did not originally intend to have it sung in that manner either.

Allow me to elaborate further.

Point One: The song does not match with the occasion (and vice versa).

It does not take one to figure out how weekly assemblies should be like: it is a formal event, complete with the hoisting of national, state and school flags, the recital of the national principles Rukun Negara, followed by formal speeches and announcements from the school administration.

As much as some students detest the idea of sitting through a boring half-hour session, it is this seriousness and solemnity that grant the weekly assembly its respect and gravitas.

For such an upbeat song to be placed in an occasion like that would seem rather out of place. Presuming the song would be sung after the three anthems, the change of atmosphere would probably be awkward and strange.

And, could this song be sung in a solemn manner like singing the other three anthems? Wouldn’t it be defeating the original purpose of the song – making patriotism more youthful and modern?

Point Two: The song seemed difficult to be sung.

The difficulty of singing this song comes from a few areas: lyrics, rhythm and vocal arrangements.

On the lyrical front, some feedback about the song reflected the difficulty in memorising the lyrics, especially among primary schoolchildren aged between 7 and 12.

Reproducing the lyrics here for our reference to kind of see the point:

Verse 1:
Ku sedar Tanah Air Aku Bertuah
Disini Tempatku Berjasa
Ku Sedar Sempurna Hidupku Disini
Malaysia ku Terhutang Budi

Chrous:
Aku Negaraku
Aku Negaraku
Sememangnya Negaraku
Maju (Negaraku Tanah Tumpah Darahku)
Aku Negaraku
Di hati ku Negara ku
Selamanya Aku Negaraku
Satu (Negaraku Tanah Tumpah Darahku)

Verse 2:
Kita Bersama Membina Masa Depan
Semangat Setinggi Angkasa
Kita Bersama Bersyukur Pada Tuhan
KepadaNya kita Berserah

(Chorus)

Bridge:
Ku laungkan Namamu Keseluruh dunia
Malaysia Aku Bahagia

(Chorus ending with Aku Negaraku)

While the catchy rhythm of the chorus (also known as “hook” in the music industry) helps with memorising the song, the length of the chorus (and how it is sung, more on that later) would add some level of difficulty on top of having to remember 2 verses with a half-verse bridge (situated between the last two reprisals of the chorus).

And remember, the chest of vocabulary for young children is not that wide (but you are free to use this point to argue that the song helps to expand the children’s vocabulary chest).

From a rhythmic perspective, the amount of syncopation used throughout in this song would be a challenge for many to keep up, especially for those who are less rhythmically inclined (though you may also argue that rhythm could be taught). And it would be a cringe-worthy thought to imagine a crowd attempting to sing a highly syncopated song in unison outside a concert setting. And even in a concert setting, you will notice that most catchy sing-along anthems do not deploy sophisticated rhythms.

The vocal arrangement of this song ups the challenge of this singing this song as a crowd. Notice the lyrics in brackets in the chorus, which was sung by a second voice (refer to the video if you did not get what I mean).

Creative points for a pop song aside, it would require some sort of a pre-arrangement on assigning parts for the crowd to sing (like the female to sing the female vocal parts, and the male to sing the male vocal parts). (And I do not think neither the Ministry nor the respective schools would go to that extent to consider such an arrangement.) Otherwise, it would seem rather awkward and strange to sing either Maju/Satu or the bracketed Negaraku Tanah Tumpah Darahku, or both consecutively.

Point 3: The depth of meaningfulness (and appropriateness) within the lyrics.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The lyrics talks about thankfulness to the motherland, which is a good thing, a patriotic thing.

But the lack of spirited feeling as cited by one student could probably arise from the lack of forward-aspiration or triumphant-conquering element(s). Sure, the song contains half a verse about building a future together with spirits as high as the universe (in Verse 2), but that’s about it. In contrast, other patriotic songs would seem to contain a more varied call to action or those elements just mentioned. (The evaluation of those songs would be included later.)

And then, there is the personal-ness of the song. If you haven’t noticed, not including the reprisals of chorus, there are about 24 times the word ku or aku occurred in the song (another 30 or so if you include the reprisals). So it is quite obvious that the song emphasises the idea of personal ownership, and even one of the creators of the song explicitly said so.

So would it be still appropriate to sing as a body of people? If you want to use the national anthem Negaraku to say yes (because the title itself has the ku suffix), do note that the national anthem has an equal distribution of the ideas on personal and common ownership in the song (ku  and kita were used twice each throughout the full song), while in Aku Negaraku, the word kita was used only 3 times.

Maybe the personal vs common ownership argument is rather arbitrary, but I believe it should duly corresponds to the way the song is performed. And in this case, it should be sung in a personal capacity as an expression of personal ownership. And subsequently, the vocal arrangements, the rhythmic creativity and the melodic composition make sense, as each of the element would cater for a solo/duet performance better than a communal performance.

Bonus point: The harmonic structure of the song is not that different than other songs commonly perceived as monotonous.

Exclude the guitar riff, you will notice the chords used throughout the song would be IV-I-V-VI and frequently in that order, which is a common and typical set of chords used in many songs (yes, even Negaraku, the official anthem). In terms of harmonic structure, it is quite common (and hence, the pop-ness).

Props to the melodic structure for being fresh and varied in relative to other patriotic songs (though I can’t help but to sense some common pop vibe off this song, then again it is meant to cater to the younger generation so I don’t have much to say on that).

Evaluation of other songs

Alright, so if this song is not suitable for communal singing, then what are the available options out there? Perhaps we could consider several songs that makes sense to sing in a crowd yet still youthful and perhaps more appropriate to the assembly occasion.

I will evaluate these songs based on the following points:

  1. Is the tempo and atmosphere of the song compatible to an assembly setting?
  2. How difficult it is to sing the song from a lyrical, rhythmic and arrangement (if any) perspective?
  3. How meaningful and appropriate it is to sing the song during a formal assembly?

And we will (unfortunately) use Aku Negaraku as the comparative benchmark.

Alternative 1: Satu Malaysia (written by LimKokWing Choir, 2009)

Alright, this seems to be one of the overplayed song during official events in 2009/2010 but somehow faded away in popularity.

But you cannot deny, the song is uplifting, modern, and catchy (where the “hook” really latched in your minds for awhile).

So, going to Question 1, the tempo of the song is comparatively slower than the benchmark. Slower tempos do not just allow lyrics to be sung clearly, but also allows room for contemplation and appreciation for the lyrics and its meaning. The atmosphere, though made modern-sounding by the electronics and percussion (or hand-claps), is not too casual to be in a clash with the solemnity of an assembly occasion.

I do not think that the song is too difficult to sing rhythmically, since there is less syncopation and that the tempo is slower. Neither does this song has any complex arrangements (apart from some echoing going around in the last reprisal of the chorus, which the crowd can refrain from singing). The verses would probably need some effort to memorise though, since there are four stanzas of verses to remember. However, the chorus is rather easy to remember with the repetition of Kita satu in each line.

The song has a strong sense of collective/common ownership, since the song emphasies on two main elements: kita (occurred 12 times) and satu (occurred 16 times). And when you put kita and satu together, in itself is a call to unity, a strong call to action. Also, the song also calls for a varied of actions: to conduct the heart’s ambition towards a proven success (in Verse 1), to build a common future towards success and to maintain (interpersonal) harmony through respecting one another (in Verse 4). This is accompanied to the other elements about triumph-conquering (dunia yang megah//dengan misi yang gagah in Verse 2).

Plus, the choruses of the song are sung originally by a choir in unison. So that can attest to the appropriateness of this song in a communal singing setting.

The shortfall: the (potentially politically) partisan nature of the message in the song, as someone once claimed that the 1Malaysia idea is solely a policy implemented under the ruling coalition (though the political climate has somewhat changed since, with the author of this quote no longer in the ruling coalition, I believe).

The lyrics can be found in Appendix 1 below.

Alternative 2: 1Malaysia For Youth (written by LimKokWing Music Academy, 2012)

From one LimKokWing composition to another, the partisan message seems stronger, since the obvious call to action is “I am for you“, hinting a strong reference to the author of the political message. Still, we should not dismiss this option from our evaluation.

From an atmospheric perspective, the song doesn’t seem to fit a solemn setting very well. The strong beat in the song compels for dance movements (in which you could see from the music video, dance movements are included). The tempo, though quick, is still singable.

Which brings us to the next point. The song is not difficult to perform rhythmically speaking, since there is little sophistication in the rhythmic structure. The vocal arrangements are rather straightforward and could be sung in unison. The lyrics are not that hard to memorise as compared to Alternative 1 (and probably the benchmark) given there is only two verses and one bridge to remember, with the chorus being just a repetition of “I am for you”.

Which brings us to this last point. The multiple repetition of “I am for you” that constitutes the chorus seems to be too simplistic (and borderline desperate for loyalty and sacrifice). The same message rang throughout the song, with words paralleling the chorus call-to-action like “for the beloved country I sacrifice my soul”. Also, the personal ownership element is strong here (well, given that each chorus alone repeats “I am for you” 9 times).

The lyrics can be found in Appendix 2.

Alternative 3: Refresh any other (older) patriotic songs

Well, in terms of meaningfulness, it is the older patriotic songs that would contain a richer message. Consider Keranamu Malaysia with its imagery-rich lyrics reflecting an aspirational view of an advanced economy and peaceful society (and I used the word aspiration), followed by a call to thankfulness and willingness to fight for the honour and sovereignty of race and country.

Or Jalur Gemilang, in which the lyrics first reflect the symbolism of each colour in the national flag, followed by a reflection of the spirit of an emancipated soul, before going back to the symbolism of the stripes in representing the unity of the states (and subsequently the people), leading into a chorus that expressed the spirit of pride and unity under the national flag of Jalur Gemilang.

There is not much technical sophistication in both of these songs in terms of rhythm or vocal arrangement. The lyrics are not that hard to remember since the words are not sophisticated either, which makes both songs fairly popular to many people.

Plus, it is already widely used in the public school setting during National Day celebrations, so there would not really a question of appropriateness (unless you turn it into a metal-genre music that is).

The lyrics for both songs would be included in Appendix 3 and 4.


If anything, it is hoped that this directive of including an additional song during the weekly school assemblies would raise an awareness of music education. I believe this is an art lacking in schools and subsequently throughout the system, which leads to directives with innocent intentions ended up potentially backfiring.

Also, it is hoped that the ministry is aware of the limitation of the PA systems across public schools, which render a poor broadcast of any modern songs (sophisticated instrumentation would sound like garbled noise).

And finally, it is hoped that an artistic expression do not simply end up as a policy tool, just as how some would think that the Star-Spangled Banner should have stayed as a tone poem and not ending up as the national anthem for the United States of America.


Appendix 1: Lyrics to Satu Malaysia

Verse 1:
Dunia kian berubah
Perubahan melingkari
Melaksana hasrat hati
Kejayaan terbukti

Verse 2:
Dunia yang megah
Dengan misi yang gagah
Kerana perpaduan
Kita masih bersama

Chorus:
Kita satu bangsa
Kita satu negara
Kita satu matlamat
Kita satu bangsa
Satu negara
Kita 1 Malaysia

Verse 3:
Bermulanya sekarang
Perjalanan dilaksana
Seia sekata
Sehati dan sejiwa

Verse 4:
Membina masa hadapan
Menuju kejayaan
Kita semua rakyat Malaysia
Harmoni saling menghormati

(Chorus)

Appendix 2: Lyrics to 1M4U

Im4u Im4u Im4u yeah

Verse 1:
Hanya untuk mu
Negara yang tercinta
Sentiasa dengan mu
Demi satu Malaysia
Berganding bahu seia sekata
Kita bersatu aman sejahtera

Bridge:
Demi negara tercinta ku korbankan jiwa
Demi bangsa dan negara ku korbankan raga

Chorus:
I m for you u I m for u u Im for u I m for u
I m for you u I m for u u Im for u I m for u I m for u

Verse 3:
Kau di sisiku sentaisa bersama ku
Kaulah segalanya negara berjaya

(Bridge and Chorus)

Appendix 3: Lyrics to Keranamu Malaysia

Buruh nelayan dan juga petani
Gaya hidup kini dah berubah
Anak-anak terasuh mindanya
Lahir generasi bijak pandai

Pakar IT pakar ekonomi
Jaguh sukan dan juga jutawan
Berkereta jenama negara
Megah menyusur di jalan raya

Alam siber teknologi terkini
Kejayaan semakin hampiri
Biar di kota ataupun desa
Kita semua pasti merasa bangga

Keranamu kami mendakap tuah
Keranamu kami bangsa berjaya
Keranamu kami hidup selesa
Limpah budi kemakmuran negara

Keranamu kami bebas merdeka
Keranamu nyawa dipertaruhkan
Keranamu rela kami berjuang
Demi bangsa kedaulatan negara

(Repeat from beginning)
Keranamu negara Malaysia
Malaysia…
Terima kasih Malaysia!

Appendix 4: Lyrics to Jalur Gemilang

Merahmu bara semangat waja
Putihmu bersih budi pekerti
Kuning berdaulat payung negara
Biru perpaduan kami semua

Puncak dunia telah kau tawan
Lautan luas telah kau redah
Membawa semangat jiwa merdeka
Semarak jaya kami warganya

Empat belas melintang jalurnya
Semua negeri dalam Malaysia
Satu suara satu semangat
Itu sumpah warga berdaulat

Jalur gemilang… di bawah naunganmu
Jalur gemilang… kami semua bersatu
Perpaduan ketaatan
Amalan murni rakyat Malaysia
Jalur gemilang… megah kami terasa
Jalur gemilang… kibarkanlah wawasan
Merah putih biru kuning
Jalur semangat kami semua

Berkibarlah
Berkibarlah
Berkibarlah

Jalur gemilang!

Ben returns to blog…only to start talking about food

After my first (and only post till now) for the year, I decided to come back here and resume writing.

Status update on the 2017 Resolutions: Resolutions 1 and 2 were pretty much a failure. Perhaps I’ll try to reboot mid-year. Resolution 3 had not been achieved yet, despite now having more time with my permanent position. Resolution 4, well, did not really materialise, and probably related to the setback in Resolution 5 – asthma came back in February and lasted for a month. Well, thank God I recovered.

On the other hand, after being in the permanent position, I have signed up for a 10k run in July, so yeah, at least Resolution 5 is somewhat on track…?

And it’s an irony to segway this post to talk about food after talking about trying to be healthy.

But I digressed.

In this coming week, I would be experiencing probably a couple of buffet sessions (one of them is termed as a “carbo-loading” session before a run). And as someone who’s day job concerns with strategy a lot, it would be a shame if I didn’t look up for “buffet eating strategy”.

And goodness, there isn’t a shortage of advice.

One of the more interesting websites on this is none other than Quora, where someone asked, “How do I consume food at a buffet in the most efficient way?“. The top answer is nothing short of professional (though one may not say so about its seriousness).

Of course, humour aside, there are quite a number of useful tips shared by many people. And if I were to summarise in several points, it would be the following:

  1. Pre-buffet prep: Yes, buffet is such an intense session on the body that the body needs to be somewhat conditioned for it. Aside from being healthy and well to ensure the basic appetite, a few things that could help to increase appetite include having regular exercises, as well as having a meal 4 hours before the buffet, which comes as a surprise to many as the common act seems to be starving one’s self before binging. However, starvation would cause stress to the stomach, resulting in intestinal gases and a rather upset stomach going into a feast. So yeah, in other words, don’t deviate too much from routine. (An additional suggestion would be drinking a cup of apple cider vinegar before a buffet, which helps with digestion and expanding the appetite.)
  2. Survey the table: In war, surveying the battlefield would give a good grasp on the geography and its potential advantages and challenges to a battle. Similarly, surveying the options of food before grabbing the plate is good in deciding which dishes to take later on. After all, one must come to this realisation: you cannot take every single dish on the menu (and still pleasantly enjoy all of them).
  3. Sample the choices: Round 1 (and probably 2) would be the first forays to the food we decided to try on from our survey. Now, the keyword here is try so the idea is to take in sampling portions (since looks can be quite deceiving, and far from how it taste). To help with the discipline of taking smaller portions, someone suggested using a smaller plate instead of a bigger one since a bigger plate makes a portion of food looks smaller than it might be.
  4. Choose the dishes, artfully: I phrase this advice in such a way simply because there is no one set of golden rules on what to eat. Choosing food in a buffet is somewhat an art, not something hard-and-fast and technical. However, there is at least one consensus among the plethora of advice: restrict starchy items. Carbohydrates such as rice, pastas and bread would easily fill up the stomach and makes one feel full easily, which would ruin the plan to maximise/optimise the value of the buffet. Now that we have got the consensus out of the way, we could explore more on the “artful” point. They say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and hence personal preference would cause one’s choice to differ from another. There are people that would advise to emphasise on the expensive items, and then there are those who would suggest to try new things since variety isn’t something one gets by on a daily basis. These advice do sound like selecting a piece of art: the pricey one vs the exotic one. And just like selecting a piece of art, the process of enjoying a buffet should be one that takes its own time to appreciate the food, the ambiance. And one does not consume art in bulks, or in this case, gulps.
  5. Have your meal with company: Between rounds of food there is a need to let food ingested to be digested (or rather proceed further in the gastrointestinal channel). Having a company of friends or family to talk over meals would help one not only rest in between rounds, but also to slow down the pace of eating.

These are several pointers about strategic buffet eating. Of course, there are many other points that I did not mention, mainly because the debate is still quite open (e.g. hydration, in which some say not to drink to risk feeling full easily, while others would recommend hot water or tea; desserts, in which some say eat them first, while others say refrain).

Ah well, never knew that buffet eating can require a lot of thought and tact.

(Hopeless) Resolutions for 2017

I might as well call this blog “A Pessimist Writes“.

Right, let’s get straight into action what kind of things I expect to see in the new year.

I hereby resolve…

  1. to mimic a 50-20-30 allocation for my financial planning in 2017according to this site on 27 resolutions in financial planning, it is good to plan ahead in building wealth. For me, it’s more of putting order into my personal finances instead of random impulses to save or spend. And I can see that following a rule-of-thumb like the 50-20-30 allocation is a good place to start: simple and sensible. Though I must say, my current financial situation is relatively better off than some of my peers who have burdening student loans and worrisome job prospects, and the fact that I don’t need to rent a place to stay nor incur too much spending on food (as I live with my parents in the city). So the ratio may need a little tweak here and there: 50% for necessary expenses (transportation, road tax, insurance, food, mobile phone plan, mortgage payments etc.), 30% for savings and investments, and the remainder 20% for “lifestyle wants” expenses. That being said, such planning would not work if I do not have a proper expense-monitoring system, and therefore…
  2. to cultivate a habit of tracking my expenses: to be honest, I have tried tracking my expenses with countless apps on the phone, but all of those attempts failed miserably. I realised that expenses tracking should be as hassle-free as possible, as frills-free as possible, as simple as possible. (Wow, three phrases to describe the same thing.) It must make sense and convenience in order to work out, whereby I won’t be distracted by other multitude of features in the tracking app.
  3. to finish at least 3 books: I know. It’s very pathetic, isn’t it? But in this increasingly digitalised age, it’s ever so easy to be distracted by the various digital platforms. No doubt that knowledge and insights can be obtained through digital materials, there are still treasures hidden in published books (or at least in those that I have already bought). So yeah, it’s time to get the ROI from my purchases, or risk being a tsundoku.
  4. to chill more and stop sighing sigh less: this is a toughy. There was previous effort to sigh less, but obviously that failed miserably (to the extent that I’m called “Mr. Sigh”). I realised there is a need to correct this, and be more, well, stable. I’m not very hopeful that I could do much on this based on past experience, but why not trying?
  5. to be healthier and less sickly: I think without a concrete milestone or deliverable, this is almost unachievable. Yet, I am hesitant to commit into something that is so vulnerable to failure, such as a 10k (or even more ambitious, a half-marathon). Moreover, there might be other things at work which may interrupt in the training regime. I guess this is why the resolution is at the bottom of the priority list.

So yeah, the hopeless resolution list for the year ahead. For these resolutions to be kept till the end of year, one can only hope (miserably).

Signing off,
Ben

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot, Really?

This year has been quite a mix-bag. And from the recent deaths published on headlines, such momentum hasn’t stop even the year comes to a close.

But I have no intent to talk about the year that had been, despite the strong allure to do so.

I’m not that committed for that though.

Instead, I wanted to talk about an old issue. Something that was definitely older than 12 months.

The title derives from the first line of the lyrics to the Scottish poem-song Auld Lang Syne, which is typically sung when the Gregorian year switches over to the next.

And as the Wikipedia article pointed out, the question of should old acquaintances and old times be forgotten is a rhetorical one.

But, shouldn’t we? Or rather, can we not?

I don’t know whether anyone is able to keep track of the number of acquaintances made throughout the year, much less throughout a lifetime. And even that acquaintance became friends on Facebook, how long would the “friends on Facebook” remain before it becomes “friends in memory oblivion”?

Fine, if you want to argue that the original Auld Lang Syne did not really mean “acquaintance” in the modern sense (that is between strangers and friends). But really, among those once regarded as proper friends in the past, how many are still remain in active contact?

It’s rather a case of nature taking its course when people tend to forget things, even people they used to interact a lot. And as man progresses from one phase of life to another, the transition from one social circle to another is bound to have some people in one’s life left behind.

Not like they ever wanted to – it’s cruel. But it’s pretty inevitable. If you are not relevant in one’s personal life, there’s much less meaning for one to keep you in their minds.

Of course, there’s still a bunch of people (myself maybe included) that attempts to ensure the connections to people no longer in the present social circle is still, well, there. They would try to make active contact with them, and indeed with digital technology such as instant messaging, such effort has an increasing rate of success relative to the days in the past.

Still, can the bond stay the same though? The pessimist in me begs to differ, while pointing out that relationship bonds are dynamic and hardly static – they’re either progressing or regressing.

So, should relationships be constantly evolving, then would it render attempts to rekindle the friendship flame that once warmed our hearts, hopeless? Not all attempts, but quite a fair bit of them. The fortunate ones are seriously dedicated attempts (which some may suggest that we have too much time on our hands).

Then there’s the Dunbar number, an attempt to actually theorise and quantify the number of active social connections one can maintain at one point in time. The number is 150.

150? That’s like only 23% of my friends on Facebook. (Of course, for people with higher number of Facebook friends, the percentage goes lower.)

So where are the other 77%? Have I lost them?

Well, the 77% and the 23% are living their own lives respectively, and where are they is not really our mandatory question to answer.

I may have “lost” a certain percentage of the 77%, while a majority is labelled “losing in progress”.

Let’s face it: keeping in touch with certain connections that you may not remember clearly is hopeless, even though there was one point in time the connections were once strong.

Strangely enough, there is another group of people who would walked out of the oblivion shadow and tries to reconnect out in the blue. Doubtless some of them have the innocent intent of trying to reconnect for old time’s sake, but there’s a certainty that one would experience these resurrections of contacts are actually propelled by their desire (or desperation) to sell you the either of two things: insurance, or multi-level marketing scheme (and/or their products). I will reserve my opinions on these two things for now, but one cannot help but to feel sad, that the bond once shared ended up in such abuse.

Anyway, I digress.

So, should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Sometimes, we can’t help it, and hope that you would understand.

If anything though, the depressing events in 2016 should really be forgotten and never be brought to mind.

(Though in the internet, nothing is really forgotten. Oh well.)

Signing out,
Ben

Numero Uno: In the Beginning

I will say this outright – in this day and age, blogging is quite dead.

Some would argue otherwise, while others would probably refine the statement to say that it isn’t dead, just the conventional way of blogging is dead (or “dying”, according to this article).

Some would add a different perspective to this blogging-is-dead conundrum: the idea of blogging pretty much remains, but the methods have moved on from the traditional “web logs” to something more familiar in recent times: microblogging.

Micro. That’s the keyword in explaining how social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (and Tumblr, and SnapChat, and Instagram – sorry, Google+) have, well, quite overwhelmingly replaced the good ol’ fashion of blogging sites. In fact, the medium to convey contents seem to have diversified away from the traditional (long) text publishing to videos broadcast (and now thanks to technology, even live broadcast), and it tells the sort of preference people have these days

Don’t get me wrong – some people still do read and write on blogging sites. But sites fell out of fashion because it doesn’t have the crucial element that social media platforms possess – virality. These days, if a blog post got viral, you’d seen it first at Twitter or Facebook, and not merely because the post exists on the site. The power of the “Share” or “Retweet” button is like fire – once caught on, a whole mountain is set ablaze.

It is not a total gloom-doom for blogging though. If done well, Twitter is the best complement to blog sites: its 140-character limit is long enough to serve as a teaser (or clickbait if you feel deceived) to the content. And the case is similar to other social media platforms.

And though the format and ways have changed, allow me to reiterate what I have written earlier: the idea of blogging pretty much remains. Conversations and discussions are still carried out on Twitter, and Facebook, and YouTube (and for lengthier ones, even Quora and Reddit forums).

That is, if the said content is not locked up in a private account without public view.

So yeah, this blogging thing that I am rebooting is yet another attempt to generate content, and share it to the world (though I should be aware, too, that it does come with the cost of public scrutiny).

Then again, if there is still the time and energy to do so after whatever takes place offline.

Signing out,
Ben