I love dark and crude humour

I initially wanted to say something like ‘it is the best tool to deal with the horrendousness that is humans’. But, I withdraw the decision. Not only I would repeat my ‘I love sarcasm and/or satire’ article, it would also not be entirely accurate.

The statement is true in some situations. But, in others, it is simply about being humorously dark. There are times when, with the ‘right’ slants, I can see the jokes in dark matters. No, I don’t believe that instantly makes me immoral. There is a difference between possessing morbid comedic aesthetics and celebrating the morbidity itself. I don’t mind if people cannot enjoy black comedy. But, I do mind when people make this about morality.

Why? Because they love to scream about one thing that they never care about. They constantly screech about their professedly higher yet actually non-existing moral standing. Public image is a number one priority. That’s one big accusation, I know. But, by observing people for years (I love pretending to be an accomplished researcher), this accusation seems on point.

Those pretend saints love to rail against entertainment entities for poisoning the masses on purpose. They believe the entertainment industry forces offhandedness down on everyone’s throat, deceiving us by promoting crude comedies as ‘wholesome’ and ‘family-friendly’. Yeah, no.

No one forces anyone to enjoy certain forms of entertainment. We are talking about risque comedies, not religious and political propaganda which we coerce on children both at homes and schools! In fact, those holy men wannabes want to stop others from enjoying off-colour fun, they want others to have the same taste as theirs. Typical freedom fighters.

Also, I have never encountered any risque comedies marketed as ‘family-friendly’. None! The film adaptation of Deadpool, which outraged helicopter parents, was crystal clear about its R rating! Cards Against Humanity’s official slogan is ‘a party game for horrible people’; even the name alone clearly signals its ‘horrid’ nature! They are always truthfully advertised. Once again, we are not talking about religious and political propaganda we love to coerce on children. Love it when people are being truthful.

Oh, I forgot to flesh out more juicy details about their ‘morals’.

One of my favourite Youtube videos is Jon Cozart’s After Ever After 2. A parody of Disney’s love of happy endings, it contains jokes about transsexuality, mental illness, hurricane Katrina and the brutality of authoritarian regimes. Very taboo stuffs. Unsurprisingly, it caused outrage. But, surprisingly, the outrage was selective.

Laughing at one crude joke, offended by another. At one point, the video was bombarded with such comments. Yes, we are always dainty about choosing our objects of laughter; even the biggest fans of obscenity still draw the lines somewhere. Hell, even jokes that make us laugh can still pain us to some extend. Some of us excuse this selectiveness by citing personal reasons (e.g. horrible past experiences or personal grievances). Inconsistent, but justifiable. Others excuse their selectiveness by citing morality. Not justifiable.

You cannot laugh at one obscene joke and proceed to declare another one as immoral. If morality is indeed your rationale, you would not be picky about it. You would be offended by every single obscene joke, be inclusive with your so-called love of human dignity and acknowledge that every single adversity deserves our sympathy!

Let me ask you some questions: do you think female rape is more noteworthy than the male one? Violent western interventionism more noteworthy than jihadism? Gang violence more noteworthy than police brutality? If you answer ‘yes’ at least once, congratulations! You may look like a fresh apple. But, you are already rotten to the core.

No, I am not talking about all activists. Some do think their causes are the only ones worthy of sympathy. But, others focus on certain causes for personal reasons (I think I have said this before) and they never condemn others to hell for simply having ‘incompatible’ grievances. Mind the air quote.

Now, back to humour….

Arts and entertainment, especially comedy, are constantly sneered at for seemingly not having any purposes whatsoever. Well, purposeful only when profitable. Fortune is and will always be the only merit. Yeah, no.

Beauty and amusement, unquestionably two things we can benefit from both; seriously, not everything valuable in life is material! But, I am also aware that many individuals, the ones I have interacted at least (and there aren’t many of them), seem oblivious to this one benefit: unfolding human nature.

Our reactions to arts and entertainment works expose our stances on social issues, cultures, politics and, as I have been typing about for weeks (I am slow), morality. They greatly reveal the sincerity and deceitfulness of our declaration of righteousness. They can do so through an individual’s psychological state (ethical consideration needed, something that I often ignore) or a society’s sociological circumstances. No need to elaborate on this again.

Oh, another thing I forgot to mention earlier. This may make me look hypocritical. Well, my writing is preachy anyway. Me being a hypocrite is always a strong possibility. So, here I go…

The jokers’ attentions matter. If their dark and crude humour is a literal reflection of their true selves, they are undoubtedly problematic individuals. But, how do you determine if that is the case with certain people?

Well, don’t pay attention to their jokes; do so to their matter-of-fact remarks. Do their sincere opinions share ideological resemblances with their tasteless jokes? If the answer is yes, then they are problematic. You cannot make a racial joke, make a sincere racist statement afterwards and proceed to defend your joke as ‘just a joke’. You have outed yourself as a racist. You have proven yourself to be deserving of hate. Of course, this method’s flaw surfaces straight away.

It only works when the jokers doctrinally complemented their humour with their own straightforwardness. If their indecency is only expressed through comical manners, then tastelessness is the only thing to be worthy of criticism. The existence of ignorance and immorality is not attested by any solid evidences. I’ll get back to it in a moment.

Then, there is another problem: what does ‘funny’ mean? Of course, every knows what it means: a quality that brings out laughter. But, even the most wholesome jokes are not universally loved. There are different factors to consider: unheard of cultural references, alien styles of humour or, as I have discussed before, audience’s sensitivity.

We have talked about offense caused by taboo humour; again, no repetition is needed. But, what if the humour itself is docile and child-friendly? We should remember that they still can be controversial because either the audience is sensitive to the jokes’ subtextual nature or they take things too personally.

The former may or may not be justified. The thing is subtexts can look very vague and heavily reliant on seemingly conjectural reading. Unless we have tangible evidences, good luck convincing people about the ‘harmless’ jokes’ harmfulness. Besides, how do we know that we are not the problematic ones? How do we know that we are not thin-skinned creatures who see non-existent patterns?

Well, if that’s the case, I even cannot propose a single unproven method to deal with such nuisance. Why? Because I am also guilty of it. As much as I have enjoyed many offhanded jokes, I am still catching myself getting offended by the milder ones. Sometimes, I am 100% convinced that the subtexts I see are real as I am terribly familiar with the jokers involved. But, other times, I am just being emotionally delicate, unable to acknowledge my own irrationality.

I have yet to escape self-contradiction.

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A case against swearing

*dons the veneer*

Or, as a sage would utter, a postulation for counterpoising malodorous confabulation.

Equitably, it bespeaks a meagreness of erudition. We blaspheme owing to the verity that our cerebrums are destitute of immaculated and unblemished lexicon. Blasphemers anathematise the supposition of being transmuted to personages of letters.

If they are veritably lingually chivalrous, then why wouldn’t they ply more opulent locution? ‘F*** you’ can be transposed with ‘fornicate thee’. ‘Motherf*****’ with ‘lady-parent copulator’. ‘Son of a b****’ with ‘descendant of a feminine canine’. One can be edified by the opuses of synonyms.

Barring my articulation above, there are no assurances for any personage to raise our modulation and unhand our decolum, let alone blaspheme. Not even in the middle of parlous quandary. Instead of declaring curses or having recourse to nefarious somatic undertakings, one could have said something like, ‘Dear, fine sirs. I am privy to the certitude that each and every one of you is sexually titil;ated by the visibility of my ménage. But, would you be so forbearing to not ravish them? Prithee, cogitate about my solicitation. Thank you’. I am 100% assured that they would not acquit themselves of anything peccable. Who knows? Mayhap there could be a concordantly- espoused coital soirée thereupon.

Sinfulness is not caused by sinful intentions. It is caused by rudeness.

*disengage from the veneer*

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I love sarcasm and/or satire

Arts

It is a great tool to deal with human beings, God’s most regrettable creations.

Obviously, sarcasm is an asset for comedy. Without it, there would be no satires that call out the ignorance and prejudice possessed by humans, especially the powerful ones. Without it, comedy would just be a completely escapist form of entertainment. But, I also love for it another reason.

For me, it is a great outlet to vent my anger. It is healthier than vandalising properties, angry-eating and mean-spiritedly insulting my fellow human beings. Besides having a more appropriate venting outlet called satire, my sarcasm also successfully calls out the people I am angry at.

Well, because my satire can be very mean-spirited, I still sound malicious. But, at the same time, I have also compellingly (I hope) illustrated how empty-headed and jingoistic some opinions can be. Took me over 365 days and many satirical blogs to get the picture. At the beginning, I only cared about emotional satisfaction.

I am not surprised that I end up writing satires. Satirist Stephen Colbert is one of my favourite comedians; I can relate to his takes on politics, religions and anti-intellectualism. A few of my favourite Youtubers are also known for their sarcastic comments. Either they affirm my love of sarcasm or they are the reason why I love it, I am still not sure. But, I am sure about something: not everyone gets them.

They are accused of possessing undesirable traits when, in reality, they possess ones that are the complete opposite. I have been trying to comprehend why people misconstrue them when I, far from being the most intelligent organism in the neighbourhood, can easily spot sarcasm.

My methods to detect sarcasm is not ‘peer-reviewed’ and their validity is purely anecdotal. But then, almost every single one of my blog posts is anecdotal. So, adding another anecdote should not matter. Anyway, here we go:

Maybe, just maybe, people misconstrue sarcasm because it is not always detectable. In the case of internet comments, some users are skilled at masking sarcasm as sincerity, fooling even the most intelligent among us. But, there are times when the satire is blatant.

The ridiculing comments usually start with deceptive sincerity. Then, either midway or at the end, they ‘punch’ themselves by pointing out their own glaringly shiny irony; by this point, anyone would chuckle (assuming you agree with the comments’ messages). But, strangely, there are also sincere comments unintentionally disguising themselves as satires.

Even though they seem indistinguishable to satirical ones, they are actually easy to detect. Instead of starting with a tone of sincerity, they immediately start with an ironic one. In fact, the entire comments are 100% irony. No punchlines and self-mockery whatsoever. By the time you finish reading them, you are not sure if they are being serious or not.

You probably reply, expecting the commenters to confirm their sarcasm. But, their replies seem to be mere extensions of their original comments. By this point, you are great in disbelief. Surely, it is impossible for anyone to be that ignorant, it is impossible for anyone to be that prejudiced….

And yet, it is possible. Soon, you realise that you just encountered humanity at its lowest moment. You realise that satires don’t always exaggerate their portrayal of mankind. You are terrified that humans can be their own caricatures. When life imitates art…

(Side note: I am pretty sure this so-called method can also be used to detect sarcasm in videos. But, personally, I have only used it on internet comments.)

Even when the sarcasm seems blatant for some, it is still not obvious to others. It is all about subtlety. We must not read and hear words as they are. We must dig deeper to determine whether there is an underlying merit. Took me years to recognise (and appreciate) understatedness. But, such skill is not always needed when watching Youtubers.

Many Youtubers are entertainers and entertainers in general are known for establishing public personas who may be an exaggeration or the antitheses of their true selves. Correct me if I am wrong. But, I notice that ‘traditional’ entertainers often don’t show their true selves when performing. With Youtubers, it is a bit different.

Many Youtube videos are indeed scripted. But, scriptless ones are also bountiful because either some formats should never be scripted (e.g. gaming videos) or the content creators prefer to ad-lib everything. That situation makes it easier for Youtubers’ true selves to surface from time to time.

The shifts between personalities are very noticeable. Just pay attention to their body languages, facial expressions, speaking intonation and choice of words. They often drastically change from time to time. How does one identify which persona is the real one?

It probably does not apply to all Youtubers. But, in many cases, their true selves are more introverted, more thoughtful, more inhibited and kinder than their obnoxious, loud and mean-spirited personas. Even without sarcasm, the contrast is too glaring for one to ignore. The art of subtlety spotting should be futile here. Well, ideally.

In reality, those characters are still seen as the actual personalities, despite mounting evidences to the contrary! More sarcastic Youtubers have it worse because they are accused of non-existing sins! I still don’t know why this shit happens. But, I have a hypothesis.

Maybe some people do not see the transformation intentionally. Maybe they know about the Youtubers’ real personalities. But, they love to hate. Being haters is the only thing that gives their sad, worthless lives meanings. Hate is beautiful, they believe.

Either that or they are just a bunch of dumbfucks who cannot separate facts from fiction, whose intelligence is comparable to one of flies-covered faeces, who ideally should not be allowed to breed even though, despite my obvious hatred of idiocy, my personal ethics still prevent me from embracing eugenics with fucking wide open arms!

But, anyway…

Earlier, I talked about genuinely ignorant and prejudiced people who unintentionally make their statements look borderline satirical. Well, there is another breed of humans who do the exact opposite: self-proclaimed satirists who don’t know what a satire is!

Instead of displaying idiocy and bigotry lampooningly, they do so in a very matter-of-fact manner. There is no embellishment that indicates any traces of ridicule whatsoever. Their statements sound sincere. Maybe, just maybe, they are skilled in making their satires look real. Yeah, no.

Upon meticulous appraisal, those earnest-looking satires disclose their veritable quintessence. That’s not how things stand with those unadulterated utterances which, even after a profusion of enquiries, still look unfeigned with their indiscretion and dogmatism.

Sorry, I am being unclear here. Let me show you some examples.

Example one: Let’s just say I want to mock anti-Semitism. Ideally, I would say something like, ‘All Jews are evil! If they are not, then how come these cherry-picked articles and videos say they are?’. Not the best satirical statement. But, it is still satirical. Clearly, I was badmouthing anti-Semites and their lack of cognitive soundness. Only imbeciles declare otherwise.

Example two: What if I go to the streets and opted to suddenly blurt out ‘All Jews are evil!’? What if I opted to suddenly dress myself as a Jewish caricature, complete with a yarmulke, a prosthetic crooked nose and speak with a stereotypical Yiddish accent while holding the Israeli flag in one hand and a bag of money in the other? You would call me an anti-Semite straight up. No hesitation. In the latter, alternately, some of you would accuse me of being offensive for the sake of it. You would noall me a satirist, not even after a close scrutiny. Why? Because context.

Mind the word ‘suddenly’. The people on the streets were strangers. Nobody knew who I was, let alone being familiar about my social stances. Nobody expected my supposedly satirical anti-Jewish statements. My audience should know about them being my audience. Never ever catch them off guard! They ought to be respected… and even that it’s not enough.

Instead of berating anti-Jewish outlooks, my statements merely exhibited them. Straightforwardly. No ornaments to materialise any lampooning quality whatsoever. In truth, purposefully or not, I endorsed anti-Semitism. I would emotionally torment Jewish people and empower anyone who yearn for their extermination.

I am actually one of the few people who believe motives matter. They are the reasons why we do anything in the first place. Dismissing them is being untruthful. One must always thrive to grasp the whole stories or risk ignorance.

But, one must also thrive to take the outcomes seriously. They should correspond to the intentions. If the dissonance is caused by people’s idiocy and saviour complex, which may happen with example 1, then the problem’s on them; nothing I can do to fix their sorry-ass brains. But, if it is caused by my own tactlessness, which may happen with example 2, then it’s on me.

No matter what my intentions are, nothing can defend me from the explosive wrath of my fellow human beings. Even saying, ‘it’s just a satire!’ won’t cut it. Actually, that would aggravate the situation. I would look like I am putting the blame on my ‘stupid and fragile’ audience. Worse, I would look like an anti-Semite who exploits satire for the sake of indulging his prejudice. The only way for me to fix everything is to repent.

Sincerely. Gullible creatures may be fooled by my fake apology. But, observant beings can smell lies from miles away. If I am not sorry, don’t bother to apologise at all! At least, I am honest about my inconsiderate nature… and more considerate people will understand that I am to be avoided.

Anyway, my point is this: think before you act! If you are going to do a satire, make sure you understand it first! If you do things like shown in example 2, then you don’t know the proper techniques and therefore, you don’t know what a satire really is! Antagonistic reactions to your brainlessness are still within reason and decency. A victim, you are fucking not!

Oh, and speaking about that…

Since the start of the article, I have been making one mistake: using the words ‘sarcasm’ and ‘satire’ interchangeably. They are not.

Satire is a genre of the arts and entertainment that mock certain people for their apparent flaws which the targets seem to be insensibly unaware or even proud of. Sarcasm is a confrontational method of communication in which our words may convey the complete opposite of their literal meanings and it is also one of the many techniques used in satire-making. So, how did I end up with this factual inaccuracy?

Well, regardless of the fact, my mind still cannot set the two apart. Sarcasm is the reason why I was attracted to satire in the first place. Heck, because of the sarcasm, some of my favourite Youtubers’ videos have strong satirical touch to them. Their lampoons are unquestionably rooted from their sarcastic inclination. But, I also have another reason to possess such mindset: because I love being mean.

For me, sarcasm is the reason why some works of satire are laced with raw meanness. It is the reason why satire has that strong and blunt punches to their targets’ faces. Obviously, some people find this objectionable, thinking that even mockery must always be polite, respectful and civil. Yeah, no.

Unlike journalism and the academia, arts and entertainment do not have codes of ethics. There is no inherent obligation for artists and entertainers to embrace those “positive” adjectives, like “neutral” or, which is relevant in this case, “nice”.

Okay, I admit that niceness should be compulsory in some cases. If our targets are ones we truly care about and have no ill feeling for, we should express genuine playfulness instead of pure malice. Well, duh. This is what we call Horation satire.

But, if our targets are ones we not only resent but are also corrupt and powerful (in a general sense), niceness is unessential. In fact, if we are being too nice, we would not be distinguishable from toothless tigers, embarrassingly impotent in exposing the sinfulness of our targets. Call me self-righteous. But, being too nice means we are mere usable bitches of the establishment. Ferocity is a must in Juvenalian satire.

And the article ends here. Seriously, I still don’t know how to make conclusions properly. Besides, as a computer document, the article is four pages long. Quite lengthy for my blogs.

 

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Dystopia is here: A portrayal of communication technology usage

A revised version of a university assignment I made in 2014. We were assigned to analyse a work of art and entertainment that includes new media as its main focus:

Because of its increasing importance in society, cultural representations of the new media has been getting more prominent recently. What Have We Done? is a good example. It is a 2014 short film directed by Sammy Paul and Tim Hautekiet. It is interesting to point out that both people are Youtubers and the film was uploaded to Hautekiet’s Youtube channel. Basically, the directors and the film are parts of the new media themselves. This essay will discuss how the film portrays it. But first, I will have to summarise the plot (to watch the film, click here):

The film is a musical and most of the dialogues are singing. It tells the story about a 19th century Englishman named William Sturgeon, who travelled to the future with his own time machine. The reason why he visited the future is he was disillusioned by the human society and he believed in the existence utopia. In the 21st century, he met a character portrayed by Tim Hautekiet himself Sturgeon asked Hautekiet to introduce him to the achievements of mankind in which the latter eagerly did. But soon, the 19th century man was even more disillusioned; he realised that humans have regressed. Instead of being used for the greater good, technology is used for the complete opposite. Humans are getting less intellectual, more detached from each other and worse, more dehumanised. Sturgeon decided to go back to his time and destroyed the time machine.

The most obvious aspect of the film is its music; it is banal and mostly lighthearted. The banality represents how humans never learn from our mistakes. Ignorance is caused by the lack of knowledge and lack of interaction with people from different backgrounds. The film strongly implies that every single generation in human history is guilty of it. The same thing keeps repeating itself. The lightheartedness represents how humans, including Hautekiet’s character, are apathetic to human regression; sometimes we even cherish it. That is represented by his cheerfulness.

But, the film’s lighthearted music can be perceived as sarcastic and it is possible that Hautekiet’s character is acting so the whole time. According to Miranda Bruce-Mitford (1996, p. 80), “music represents the ordered pattern of the universe”. The music successfully represents the universe portrayed by the film. Musical films often include dance numbers and What Have We Done? (2014) is no exception.

Bruce-Mitford (1996, p. 76) describes dancing as ritualistic movements that emit energies. The film has two dance numbers. The first one features banal and light-hearted dancing; music and dancing have to compliment each other in a musical. Like the music, the dancing represents how humans keep repeating the same mistakes and how we deal with regression; again, the lightheartedness can be interpreted as either cherishing the regression or being sarcastic to it. These actions can be seen as quite ritualistic.

The second dance number is less unoriginal and less cheerful. Every single dancer is shown with a mobile device in his/her hand. Most of them dance with stilted movements and expressionless faces. Four of them dance in couples and their eyes are glued to their mobile devices instead of their partners. They represent humans who are enslaved by technology; they seem not to have lives of their own and when they do, their lives are dedicated solely to the technology instead to their loved ones.

It should be noted the colour red is prominent in the second dance scene. Red represents danger (Bruce-Mitford 1996, p. 106). The film is warning us that if we are not careful, we would be enslaved by technology. From the surface, the visual and musical aspects may be very important to viewers. But, if one digs deeper, one would encounter strong ontological elements.

In the second dance number, Hautekiet sings these lines:

It’s a pretty sweet deal But your soul is the price!

These lines refer to human habits of buying stuff we do not need and misusing the internet. At the exact moment he sings ‘but your soul is the price’, Hautekiet’s face changes its appearance: his skin turns greenish and his eyes become larger and blacker. He also sings that line with demonic voice. Green represents decay and black represents destruction (Bruce-Mitford 1996, pp. 106-107). Our bodies are decaying in a figurative sense because we are not using them and our minds are always somewhere else. We are destroying our souls because we are detaching ourselves from the physical reality. I refrain myself from using the word “destructing” because it implies that the act is deliberate. It is debatable whether we are deliberately destroying our souls or not. But, it raises another question: what is a “soul”?

Soul” is a very abstract concept and there is no universally-accepted definition of it. I define it as a concept of “self” and that is definition I am going to use. There are four different ideas of “self”: dualism, materialism, monistic pantheism and no-self (Meister 2009, pp. 190-196). Dualism is the idea of mind and body as two separate entities. Materialism states that nothing exists beyond the material world. Monistic pantheism is a combination of two ideas: monism, in which everything is one and inseparable from each other, and pantheism, in which everything is divine. No-self believes that “the individual self does not exist”. In some ways, those four ideas are represented in the film.

Dualism is represented by the way people dance. Their bodies are shown to be dancing. But judging from their faces, their minds are somewhere else; their bodies and minds do not influence each other. But then, the dualist nature can also be easily refuted by materialism because how a human brain works also influence the mind (Kim 1996, p. 47). Most of the dancers may have their minds somewhere else. But, their minds become static because their brains are controlled by their mobile devices and their dance movements can be described as static as well; they seem to be directly controlled by the brains.

Materialism can also be used to partially support monistic pantheism. I said partially because monism is shown by the fact that mind and body are inseparable and the film’s materialist idea does not support pantheism because technology is shown as the one and only divine object; pantheism believes everything is equally divine. It is also can be said that materialism also supports the No-Self idea in a way; our minds are influenced by our bodies, which are also influenced by the environments. In a way, those dancers can also be described as not having independent selves. The film has strong elements of dualism, but they can be easily refuted by the other three ideas. I have discussed about the artistic and ontological elements. The last thing I am going to discuss about is how the film portrays human communication.

John Hartley (2002, p. 32) defines communication as “interaction by means of mutually recognised signals.” Interactions can be done directly or with a medium. One may think the interactions as with the help of internet as being portrayed are not true communications. But, I have repeatedly mentioned how the characters seem to have their minds somewhere else. They are not evading human communications, they are communicating with other humans somewhere else! The film does not portray the internet as communication destroyer but as a changer of communication; we communicate more with people from faraway than the people physically close to us. The film excellently, but not perfectly, portrays how we use communication technology.

In the film, humans are described as not unwilling to learn from their ancestors’ mistakes, even with more than adequate technology. Human minds are portrayed as slaves to the new technology instead of the opposite. From the surface, the film seems to portray human communications being destroyed by technology. But, it is not destroying communications, it is changing them.

Bruce-Mitford, M 1996, The illustrated books of signs and symbols, DK Publishing, London.

Hartley, J 2002, Communication, cultural and media studies: the key concepts, 3rd edn, Routledge, New York.

Meister, C 2009, Introducing philosophy of religion, Routledge, London.

Kim, J 1996, Philosophy of mind, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.

My identity

(Based on my New Media class assignment. It was made in 2014. Three years ago. In this new version, I will also compare my 2014 view with the current one.)

The pictures above are screenshots of the pages I like on Facebook. The shrinks among you will try to ‘psychoanalyse’ me based on that alone. I am sure you will get your ‘analyses’ wrong. Yes, what I like reveals my true self. But, I have only shown you eighteen pages. You should also consider the groups I join, my taste, my backgrounds, what I share online and how I interact with fellow human beings online and offline. Here, I will discuss how I form my online identity and its legitimacy as a form of legitimacy. First, we need to define what identity is.

2017 update:

Some of the Youtubers featured in the screenshot… well… I have stopped watching them almost completely since 2015, a year after I made this assignment. I also liked a page called ‘Positive Outlooks’. Yeah, I don’t remember how I ended up liking a page with such revoltingly-syrupy name.

R. Atchley (cited in Kelly 2010) defines identity as a group of traits that distinguish a self from the others; it is the only thing that can represent a self. I personally see myself having more than one; my online behaviour is different from the offline one. Stard and Prusak (cited in Kelly 2010) believed that to be true; they stated a self can have more than one depending on how it represents itself. An online identity is different from its offline counterpart because the former tends to be more mindfully presented, considering how social media gives users more time (Champagne cited in Bouvier 2012, p. 40). Every identity is legitimate despite contradicting each other. Online, I have two: humanist and spiritual.

2017 updates:

It is anecdotal, but I believe online identities are not always sensible; they can be a lot nastier than the offline ones. New media seem to be good at breaking down our metaphysical guard.

I still believe one can embrace two seemingly clashing identities; humans are complex creatures. But, I also admit the syncretic identification can appear as cognitive dissonances to most people, especially when said individuals refuse to acknowledge the contradictions’ existence.

My humanist identity is an identity I embrace when dealing with fellow human beings. It covers my social, political and cultural identity. When online, it is mostly liberal and internationalist in nature. I constantly clash with conservatives, I prefer English over Indonesian and most online articles I read are about international issues instead of local ones. When I first joined Facebook, I was far less international but was already liberal. Then, I started to meet people from all over the world and had good relationships with them. Offline, it is a different case.

I still have shreds of conservatism and nationalism inside my offline self. My lifestyle is neither too liberal nor too conservative. I live in Australia at the moment, studying in an international university and have no problem respecting local customs. But, I spend most of social life interacting with fellow Indonesians and acting like a stereotypical Indonesian inside my house. Even though both are different, my online and offline identities greatly influence each other. I would be completely completely liberal and international online if my offline self is not more moderate and more nationalistic. Unlike my humanist identity, my spiritual identity took longer to form itself.

2017 updates:

I am not sure about my usage of the word ‘humanist’. Humanism is often defined as a divine-less and human-centred form of spirituality. It is obvious how my so-called humanist identity has nothing to do with spirituality. Back then, I did not bother to open my thesaurus. Now, I think ‘temporal’ or ‘profane’ are the more appropriate choices.

I was fooling myself when I said I had good relationships with everyone on Facebook. I did end up being close to some users. But, at the same time, I also had many clashes caused by various reasons. Sooo easy to interact with me.

Now, I am back to Indonesia, even though I am still studying off-campus mode on the same university. The reason I mostly interacted with Indonesians while living abroad is I lived with my sister, who had many Indonesian friends and acquaintances in Australia. If my sister was not with me, I would have more interactions with Aussies. If you barely socialise and you live in Australia, your interactions would mostly consist of Aussies. Duh!

Spirituality does not have a universally-accepted definition. I personally define it as a way to embrace one’s true self; it is not necessarily about connecting with the divine as agnostics and atheists may also describe themselves as ‘spiritual’. My online spiritual identity is a reformed/progressive one. I believe there must be a reform in the way believers interpret religious teachings. On Facebook, I join groups and like pages dedicated to progressive/reformed/ Muslims; I also like pages dedicated to progressive Christians. If online users ask what my religion is, I would immediately answer progressive/reformed Islam. Offline, once again, it is a different case.

I am closeted with my belief in order to avoid any conflicts. There are not many openly progressive Muslims. The internet is our safe haven, the only place where we are able to congregate peacefully (most of the time); the online congregation is more spiritually satisfying than the ones I encounter in mosques. But, there is a problem with my spiritual identity: it is insecure and fragile.

I am doubtful that I perfectly represent my identity. I tend to have low tolerance of conservative and moderate Muslims, even the non-violent ones, seemingly contradicting my so-called progressive nature. Technically, I am a progressive/reformist-wannabe militant liberal. It will actually help if I interact with more people, not just the ones who claim to be progressive.

Piotr Bobkowski (2008) believed young people are not enlightened enough to properly express their faith (p. 3) and yet they can be too showy (p. 21). Literally me. I am very quick to announce my religiosity while still not being learned enough. Compared that to my fellow self-identified progressive/reformist Muslims who are both well-read and reserved.

2017 updates:

I still embrace that definition of spirituality. But, nowadays, it has become more layered and slightly more complex (only slightly). I realised how I defined it in 2014 was too simplistic and superficial.

I keep typing ‘reformed/progressive’ regarding my Islamic identity. Many people use the two words interchangeably, sometimes along with the word ‘liberal’. From what I know, there are no established distinctions between reformist, progressive and liberal Muslims. But, I tend to identify with the first two as I do think liberalism is different from progressivism and reformism.

My militant liberal attitude was short-lived. I was very impressionable and let myself influenced by the nasty self-proclaimed reformed/progressive Muslims whose idea of progressive Islam includes selling their fellow believers to anti-Muslim bigots. That’s why I am often reluctant to join online communities dedicated to such well-intentioned movement. It is too bad because many self-proclaimed progressives out there still maintain their dignity.

I agree with Bobkowski to an extend. It is true youngsters are prone to irrationality and immaturity; unsurprising considering how young brains are not fully-developed. But, at the same time, adults can also be guilty of the same, especially when it comes to spirituality. Case in point, those sell-out so-called progressive Muslims.

Online identity is as legitimate as its offline counterpart. In the digital era, both are inevitable crucial parts in overall human identities. One can’t live without the other, despite seemingly different from the surface. It is not important if they are different from each other or not, it is more important if they are true to a person’s true self and they don’t make him or her an intolerant individual.

2017 update:

It should be like this: it is more important if they encourage our true selves to embrace reason and high moral standards.

 

Bobkowski, P 2008, ‘An Analysis of Religious Identity Presentation on Facebook’, International Communication Association 2008 Annual Meeting – Conference Paper, pp. 1-24.

 

Bourvier, G 2012, ‘How Facebook users select identity categories for self-presentation,’ Journal of Multicultural Discourses, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 37-53.

 

Kelly, L 2010, What is Identity?, Australian Museum, retrieved 19 May 2010, <http://australianmuseum.net.au/blogpost/Museullaneous/What-is-identity>.

Syrian refugees: help them…and don’t

(An article based on my philosophy class essay)

Refugee crisis. It seems to be an everlastingly divisive facet of human life. To help or not to help, that is the question. Many are dangerously single-minded once they have taken a stance. Some wish to welcome refugees because of moral obligations. Others refuse to because of security and financial reasons. I am among those who are neither.

I believe literally everything in life has its strengths and weaknesses. In this case, I can spot them straight away. The welcomers may be motivated by a sense of humanity, or a lack of common sense. The refusers may be motivated by common sense, or a sense of inhumanity. Here, I will scrutinise the motives of both sides and try to present some possible solutions in the end. Oh and I will use the Syrian refugee crisis as a case study.

Don’t help them

Against:

For me, there are creatures worse than the openly immoral ones: the pretenders. In this case, they claim to be refusers because of security and financial concerns. But, in truth, the sense of practicality has been just a false face that unconvincingly hides bigotry, unmistakably visible for every living soul to witness. How they slander the refugees says a lot.

First, they love to accuse every single one as economic migrants, despite the fact that they are not. A refugee’s motive is to escape extreme harms at all cost. An economic migrant only needs a better job opportunity. Literally two different types of people! Never mind that such idiotic understanding of the vocabulary insults our intelligence. The accusers slander the refugees as money-hungry beings who were never in danger in the first place! Of course, they have to jack up the vilification by bringing Jihadism.

Some believe many refugees are Trojan horses for ISIS. Others believe all of them are! The refusers use a solid evidence that is paranoia and extreme fear of the ‘others’. They look different, their culture is different and their God is different; therefore, they are inherently evil and must be treated as such. This and the economic migrants accusation reduce the refugees as diverse and complex human beings to dehumanising stereotypes that exudes dangerous falsehood. This kind of refusers believe refugees should be left to die. Besides the shameless immorality, the refusers also have an unreasonable demand: gender and age quotas.

They are offended after finding out that (from a cherry-picked selection of photos) most refugees are supposedly young men; they believe young men must stay in war-ridden Syria and fight. Even in a matter of life and death, we must always uphold arbitrary and ever-changing gender roles; God forbids if we prioritise human well-being over cavemen customs.

For:

But, this side of the argument can also have a strength: the inclusion of rationality. Admittedly, it is can feel cruelly cold and seemingly defies our innate human nature. But, our contemptuous opinions still do not conceal the fact that we need rationality. It is one thing that elevates us to a status other earthly beings have yet to achieve. So what if it feels cold? That is something we have to deal with it. Besides, that coldness is useful in warding off a disease called sentimentality.

Sentimentality encourages us to execute decisions based on whether they feel right or not. Feelings matter, reason doesn’t. Sentimental people may think it is a moral and humane approach to life. But, in truth, it is nothing but selfishness. We do things because we want to please ourselves emotionally, not because we think hard about what is actually best for ourselves and others. We cannot remedy the world with sentimentality.

Help them

Against:

I am quick to berate anyone who demonise refugees with slanders. But, I also oppose the idea of unconditional acceptance. It’s financially reckless to the host countries’ finance. Assisting refugees is costly for everyone; even the wealthiest countries have limited savings. Refugees are not economic migrants whom we can ethically screen simply based on their skills. Either we limit their intake or not taking a single one of them. Unlimited intake should never be an option. Besides this, security is also an issue.

I believe most refugees are not security risks. But, there is no doubt that a handful possibly are; terrorists are often in disguise. As the atrocities of Jihadists are notorious, vigilance is essential. Unconditional acceptance means we endanger the lives of many innocent people. The same immorality we see on the dehumanisation of refugees. Besides security, integration is also a problem.

I love diversity and I am all for its existence. But, when sickly, it is prone to sectarianism. When we refuse to respect others’ identities and be reasonable about our own, conflicts are inevitable. The arrival of outsiders is a good example.

If you plan to stay permanently in your new home, integrate! Cultures are abstract entities. Trust me, you can embrace more than one of them! There is no excuse to not blend in. Heck, even if you don’t plan to stay permanently, never ever force the locals to embrace your culture. In the end, the locals will be antagonised at their own homes and outsiders will be even more marginalised. My fellow supporters of diversity barely talk against this.

For:

Abdusalam Guseinov expressed how rationality is not always the sensible approach to problems (2014). He believes morality is about our ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ choices and that is supposedly out of rationality’s scope. Just like emotions, rationality should also be tamed.

Sometimes, seemingly contradicting my previous statement, the best decisions we can make are based on whether they feel right or not. The ‘coldness’ of reason is not inherently bad. But, we should not let it take over us if we don’t want to see our fellow human beings as mere piles of flesh, blood and bones.

After visiting a refugee camp with her colleagues, sociologist Elizabeth Holzer saw how the refugees’ daily lives were still similar to our own (2014, p. 868). They are not that different from us, despite the differing religious and cultural backgrounds, despite them experiencing an extreme situation which we should be grateful for not enduring it ourselves. This is not a philosophical musing, this is a methodical sociological observation. It should be more than enough to prove their humanness.

Possible solutions

My proposed solution is obvious if one reads the previous paragraphs. We should consider the possible risks of welcoming refugees while, at the same time, confronting the bigotry against them. I also believe the inclusion of rationality and emotions should be strictly balanced.

Of course, my solution is too simplistic and it barely counts as one. I am also literally one person. I also spend. Social issues are very complex and require complex solutions constructed by people of various perspectives. This is why we need global ethics.

It is the best solution we have so far because it fulfills the nationalistic needs of individual countries, while still taking ‘universal moral values’ into consideration (Wonicki 2014, p. 261). Ethics (and philosophy in general) still has objectivity, albeit different the one in science. Ethics sees validity in every viewpoint, as long as they are based on good reasoning and solid evidences. They can be rejected for their fallacies and saying they are just ‘opinions’ is a poor defense. Now that we have one proposed solution, how are we going to implement it?

Philosopher Keith Horton (2014) believed he and his colleagues must reach the masses if they desire to popularise ethics discussions. He proposed these steps (pp. 308-309): 1. do further research on relevant ‘strategic’ issues; 2. make them presentable to wider audiences; 3. join or establish networks; 4. establish relations with non-academic groups and/or individuals with similar goals.

Again, Horton is just one person. His proposals’ effectiveness has yet to be proven. But, unlike me, he was giving genuinely more empirical suggestions. If there are more ethicists who make similar endeavours, it would be easier to improve the relatively young and underdeveloped discipline (Dower 2014, p. 14). Besides that, we should also involve the media in this conversation.

Edward Girardet and Loretta Hieber stated how journalists refuse to advocate humanitarianism, citing objectivity as a pretext. But then, those same journalists are eager to promote their government’s patriotic endeavours or commercialism in general (2002, p. 166). Whether those actions are journalistic or not, that is an entirely different matter.

Those so-called journalists drop their objectivity only when it is personally beneficial for them to do so. The media should admit this deep-rooted hypocrisy and courageously confront it (Girardet & Hieber 2002, p. 166). Bear in mind that the media is greatly powerful.

Girardet and Hieber (p. 172) suggested that, in order to spread the words, humanitarian organisations need to study the societal roles of media and to join forces with independent media. They also argued that independent media should bring their ‘faith in quality reporting’ back to life instead of giving in. We cannot expect commercial media to be self-reflective any time soon, if ever.

Just like Horton’s, Girardet and Hieber’s proposal is far from perfect, albeit (again) better than mine. Once again, we need more individuals partaking in this conversation. More participation means more perspectives. More perspectives means the more we (ideally) would be mindful in the problem-solving.

Girardet, E & Hieber, L 2002, ‘The media and humanitarian values’, Refugee survey quarterly, vol. 21, no. 3, 166-172.

Guseinov, AE 2014, ‘Morality as the limit rationality’, Russian studies in philosophy, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 18-38.

Holzer, E 2014, ‘Humanitarian crisis as everyday life’, Sociological forum, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 851-872.

Horton, K 2014, ‘Global ethics: increasing our positive impact’, Journal of global ethics, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 304-311.

Dower, N 2014, ‘Global ethics: dimensions and prospects’, Journal of global ethics, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 8-15.

Wonicki, R 2014, ‘Global ethics and human responsibility: challenges for the theory and discipline’, Journal of global ethics, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 261-266.

Youtube fans, haters and their imaginary prerogative

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I wrote an article about how Pewdiepie’s fans are horrible. I am fan myself and I have horrid experiences with fellow bros. But, I don’t know why I only focused on that one specific fandom when the others are equally horrid.

Maybe because Pewdiepie was and is currently the Youtuber I watch the most. Maybe because Pewdiepie fandom is so infamous. But then, it’s frustrating how we quickly dismiss the existence of his militant haters.

Haters. Like the zealous fandoms, they are one of Youtube’s cancers. Both are the extreme ends of the spectrum. Both are waste excreted from different orifices of a same person. Both also suffer the same disease: a bulging sense of entitlement.

They believe the entire Youtube community must kneel down and pleasure their nether regions. When excited, their genitalia boast non-existing expertise about what’s good for a group of diverse and many ‘unseen’ individuals. They express their excitement in different yet equally infuriating ways.

One sin that fans always do is forcing their Youtubers to be their besties. Yes, our Youtubers are NOT our friends. Their impacts to our personal lives are indeed inspiring. But, ours do not intertwine with theirs and probably never will. It’s still a tough truth to sell.

Fans want their favourite Youtubers stark naked and touch every inch of the bare skins as they desire. Their idols are nothing but emotionless piles of flesh, blood and bones who are destined to please the lustful ego of complete strangers. If they aren’t treated like sex toys, they are treated like puppets.

Retar…I mean, fans believe they are ever-powerful Gods and Youtubers are their subjects. They believe they have the complete creative control to the channels. Heck, they even think they can impose draconian rulings on the Youtubers’ personal lives! You can get attacked simply for dating the ‘wrong’ person (e.g. Jacksepticeye) or for not coming out (Joey Graceffa). Then, the haters chime in.

They declare themselves as being more sophisticated and more moral than the fandoms. In fact, they use this as a justification to hate certain Youtubers. Of course, that does not hold ground for two reasons:

First, Youtubers aren’t always responsible for their fans’ actions; some behaviours are simply beyond the former’s control. Second, the haters are equally rabid bunch of degenerates.

The most obvious haters’ sin is…their hate. They waste their precious time searching for Youtubers they hate, clicking their videos and posting cancerous comments. They even express their hatred in comment section of videos…created by different and sometimes unrelated Youtubers! What is their ‘rationale’ for this?

Well, they believe the expression of hatred will lead to the Youtubers’ downfall. Hatred will bring negative energy to their channels. In the end, destruction is inevitable. It does make sense…for the most simplistic of all minds. Instead of weakening them, the Youtubers end up getting stronger.

Clicking their videos literally means giving them more views. More views means more money. More money means more power. One can use money to obtain higher status and more fame! That’s the truth about life! Wait, that’s not all.

Haters also forget that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I am a Pewdiepie fan because of the haters. They are the ones who introduce me to him! They keep spamming comment sections with his name. Curiosity made me check his channel and a bro I am now. I am genuinely grateful for the haters.

In fact, many of my fellow bros are! Giving lots of attention to Youtubers is almost akin to nourishing them with free ads. More subscribers also means more power. With many strangers adoring you, it is relatively easy to defend yourself. But, what if the attention does not give them more followers?

They may or may not get more. If they don’t, it still doesn’t matter. We often forget that Youtubers are media and communication people. They are savvy in both fields. They can use their fame their advantage. Their skill is their power. If they want to, they can topple world governments. Again, thank you hater, whose stupidity doesn’t stop there.

They love to denounce content creators of certain flaws. Obviously, valid criticism is important; everyone needs it to be a better individual, personally and professionally. But, the validity kills itself when the criticism is laced with hypocrisy.

They condemn the Youtubers they hate certain flaws…while openly praising their favourite Youtubers who clearly ALSO have those flaws! If you have a proudly blind sense of judgement, don’t get pissed when others dismiss your words; it’s their moral right. I am still not done, yet.

Those haters, no matter how annoying they are, are very harmless. Deal with them like one deals with overly-pampered toddlers. But, some are worryingly more dangerous as they bring their hatred to an atrocious level: slander.

They are so tightly cocooned by their hatred, their heads will come up with horrible lies, camouflaged them as truths and post them online. Unsurprisingly, they cannot present a single evidence to support their claims. Well, they think they can; for them, ‘hatred’ is literally the best evidence a person can have. Unfortunately, gullibility is a widespread social disease.

Present a handful of shit and a swarm of flies will gobble it up. They will do so either because it satisfies their repulsive, ingrained taste buds or they are simply starving and will devour anything they stumble on. Both are convinced of its supposedly refined taste. Then, they proceed to throw the shit to other people’s faces, including the slander victims.

One may say that slander is mere words; we should just ‘man up’ and not let ourselves hurt by it. Slander is literally harmless, they say. Well, that’s easy to say if you are not the victim.

Before Wall Street Journal falsely accusing him of anti-Semitism (and still haven’t apologised for it), Pewdiepie had been accused of stealing charity money and beating his own girlfriend. Even John Green of the Vlogbrothers was accused of being a sexual pervert who ‘loved’ teens. Those accusations are so horrible, they can potentially ruin lives. Haters who do this should be taken seriously.

So, what cause haters to do all of these? Well, as I said earlier, just like those rabid fans, haters have a bulging sense of entitlement. Like those fans, haters think everyone in the Youtube community are destined to be their personal slaves who indulge every single one of their desires. They literally cannot accept that they aren’t the only people who matter.

No, I am not saying that we should keep our mouths shut. We can, and should, give creative suggestions to our favourite Youtubers. Heck, I even believe we can give advices for their personal lives. Yes, it is true that Youtubers can’t live without us fans. But, we should also remember that we were attracted to them in the first place because of the uniqueness of their individuality.

We can, and should, also give stern criticism to the Youtubers we hate. Heck, I even believe we can give ‘harsh’ comments (mind the air quotes). But, our criticism should be bound by reasons and facts, not our feelings. The rule still applies even when they spit out shameless prejudice. Don’t be a hater. Don’t be an SJW. Be a critic.

Yes, I know that ‘traditional’ celebrities have also been harassed by rabid fans. But, digital media platforms like Youtube give wider access for us to interact with our idols; the wall between us and them is a a lot thinner. This digital metaphysics worries me. I fear that it makes us even more prone to suffer from delusions, believing that we have actual intimacy with our idols.

Speaking about the personal nature of Youtube, the website gives us freedom that ‘traditional’ media lacks: we can choose to watch any videos we want. Don’t like a Youtuber? All you have to do is to NOT clicking his/her videos! It’s that simple! You’re not forced to watch videos you hate.

Youtube does suggest you videos; even then, those videos are very likely related to the ones you frequently watch. Maybe they have similar styles or content. Maybe the creators are acquainted to the ones you are subscribing to. So, don’t get angry when you’re suggested videos of your hated Youtubers. In fact, you have so much freedom there, you literally have no reasons to be a hater.

I don’t know how end this article.

So, the end?

The night (and human stories)

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City night

I used to hate the night. Every time it came, we had to retreat inside. Grown-ups said it was for our protection.

They claimed the night releases the worst creatures, supernatural and not, to roam the streets. You know, the kind of creatures that abduct children…because reasons. Once abducted, the chances were you would disappear forever. Children, always one of the easiest targets.

Well, the adults’ words were not completely alarmist. People do get terribly harmed at night. But, the real stories I’ve heard mostly involve adult victims. Even then, many more took place during daytime.

Don’t let the sunshine fools you. It conceals the underlying menace that also prosper under the sun. The daytime is as dangerous as the nighttime. Actually, no. It’s a lot more dangerous.

It’s the time where we let ourselves unguarded. Bright colours, upbeat sounds and vibrant human activities. With those around us, what could have gone wrong? Well, everything that parents fear will happen to their children.

Almost every real-life horror story (at least, the ones I’ve personally heard), including the ones that involve young children, happened under the sun’s cheerful watch. That’s why sunlight is the only reason why I love daytime. Very trivial, unlike the reason why I love the night.

(That’s a warning for my incoming pretentiousness, btw. Maybe I should make more such warnings in the future).

One night, me and my family were heading back home late at night. The streets of Jakarta were uncharacteristically calm. Usually, such physicality would evoke either of these feelings from me: boredom and fear.

The boredom ensued when I was inside any vehicles. I looked through the windows and thought how boring it was to be a creature of the night. Unless you live in a sleepless city, lifelessness would be your only friend. But, exit the metal cocoons and everything changed.

Fear emerged and gained control. I felt I was in constant peril. I could get ambushed by anyone or anything. The shadows of urban edifices were their perfect hiding spots. Tried to be more alert…and ended up paranoid instead. But, on that night, I had a brand new sentiment: curiosity.

The calmness unveiled fragments of urban life that I previously failed to notice, thanks to all of those rush hours’ havoc. Yes, I just blamed my mental oblivion on my surrounding. That’s cute. If I tried a wee bit more, I would have made this discovery much earlier. So, what did I discover?

The ‘lifeless’ night is very much alive. Unlike the day, it is a lot more discreet in its self-expression. Want the urban goodies? Don’t expect them to hand over themselves to you. Put on some more efforts. Explorers, you have to be. You can start by open your literal eyes wider.

From inside the car, I could occasionally see other vehicles. I even saw pedestrians walking either alone or in small groups. Even at its sleepiest, cities still have people roaming around. As I’m typing this, I realised something.

Even if I was the only living creature around, asserting the supposed lifelessness is a distortion of reality. My mere presence is a sign of life! I forgot that I was a living creature all this time. Me as the only one is not lifelessness. It’s so obvious, it hurts.

On that night of realisation, me and my family were coming back from a concert. We were deeply allured because it was a live performance. Our minds were more aesthetically charged. What we felt was so abstract and impossible to describe simplistically. We were metaphysically vibrant and had grand things to offer.

Assume the same thing from every night commuter/traveler. Besides concerts and the likes, they all have reasons to be out that late. They may be night shifts workers. Not all of us know how it feels to be one and they can share their experiences.

Those people may have things bugging their minds. Late night strolling present them the time, space and atmosphere to obtain the mental remedies. Obviously, we should respect their privacy. But, they have rich personal lives of their own. This is just the humans on the street.

One can still find eateries serving hungry customers at this hour. I don’t know about you. But, they are invisible to me during rush hours, drowned among the sea of moving metals, over-stressed anthropoids and an assortment of health hazards.

In Indonesia, those eateries tend to be greasy spoons, serving some of my favourite foods. It’s preposterous how I failed to locate good foods from miles away. They are not hidden, anyway. But, some things, to some extent are always so.

We presume the vibrant night life only occur recreational venues. Admittedly, some do have restricted access. But, their presence are still very public and their night life are still within our grasps. Some public places aren’t so during the night.

They are always closed after dark. But, we often forget about the employees who work overtime for various reasons. Reasons like the need for extra cash, more time to improve their works, deep love for their occupations…or compensating their lonesome personal lives and needing an excuse to avoid their homes, more godforsaken than abandoned cemeteries.

Anyway…

Overtime working process isn’t public. But, most of us can relate. We have experienced working beyond the regular hours. Even students with barren résumés can relate to an extend. If that and nocturnal recreational venues are partially reachable, there is one area where access is even more restricted: private homes.

One boring, ultra-conformist person alone can tell many unique stories, let alone a house with a myriad of differing occupants. After work and study, they passed on much of the storytelling energy to their homes, where they have a tiny, invitation-only audience.

A sprinkling of those exclusive tales can be retold to acquaintances or even strangers. But, one essential requirement is ought to be fulfilled: their retelling should not violate the personal lives of any living characters involved. Whether the deceased ones must be ‘respected’ or the stories must have social merit, I’m still wrangling about.

Most of them fail to fulfill the principal requirement. Therefore, they should always be perpetually buried. Unless you’re among the pivotal characters, you do not deserve the uncut and raw unveiling. Those stories are as intimate as private sex tapes. Yes, I dare to make that analogy.

In the end, we should acknowledge the constant spiritedness of our surrounding. Easier said than done. It’s very easy for us to enter the ‘boredom’ realm. But, if we just try to get to know our fellow beings on a deeper level, we would have a better understanding of the world. I love to point out the obvious.

(Yes, yes. I did mention about respecting privacy. What I am trying to say is we should have a disciplined sense of curiosity. Slack a bit and it’ll become nosiness. With the self-discipline, you can satisfy your curiosity honourably. No excuse to be a papparazzo. Again, I love pointing out the obvious.)

Also, we should enhance our regard for the night-time. Not only it provides us daily interludes, it removes almost every single distraction from the daytime. It presents us the chance to unearth anything we usually take for granted. It also compels us to grasp the idea that serenity is not lifelessness.

God, I almost forgot. Surely, not everyone is a social butterfly. I know because I am not one. How do people like me get interesting human stories? Well, we interact with lifeless objects.

They do not think or feel. But, at some moments in their life, they have interactions with humans. What the humans do to or with the objects make interesting stories. They can be inspiring, revolting or unemotional, just like the ones we got from the actual humans themselves. One can still achieve human connections from solitude. Human understanding is not and should not exclusive to extroverts.

Overt infatuation with politeness

Ahok, one of the men who run for the next governor of Jakarta, is a controversial figure. A Christian political leader of Chinese descent in a Muslim and non-Chinese majority currently afflicted by sectarianism. His presence alone is enough to cause a stir.

As horrible as the intolerance itself, it’s not the only “criticism” againts Ahok that I find “unfounded”. Many are offended by his crassness and lack of politeness. For them, it’s more than enough to defame him.

They don’t care if a politician is corrupt, greedy or power-hungry. They only care about his/her politeness, how he/she sees fame among the masses is more important than competence and integrity. Ahok is the complete opposite.

Ahok is willing to publicly berate anyone who actually deserve it. For him, frankness, leadership competence and dignity are much more important than popularity among people who are easily duped by masks of pretence.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I hate manners. In fact, I deem them extremely valuable. We cannot treat people carelessly. Every single one of our actions must have protocols. But, the problem arises when we use them as justification for horridness.

Politness and dishonestly are considered synonymous. Being frank is rude. That’s a shallow way of thinking. If that’s what you believe, what you desire is actually pretence harmony.

“Harmony” isn’t born out of genuine respect, but out of spinelessness about being open. Honesty can expose the plague of fakeness in our life. Those of us who love the status quo see it as impoliteness and the source of “disharmony”. This degeneracy of the mind doesn’t stop there.

There is also a belief that politeness also means not saying anything negative about the powerful. Once again, if you think that way, you don’t want politeness. What you want is mass worshipping of the high rankers.

You make Gods out of them, more than you do with your actual Gods. You are unwilling to let them “hurt” by even the most constructive criticism. You will do anything to protect your objects of worship. In fact, you support sanctions against those critics. In the end, you are henchmen to oppression.

Maybe you think I am over-reaching. I admit that is hard to comprehend to anyone who are already used with worshipping their fellow human beings. Maybe you also agree with what I am saying here, not realising you maybe also guilty of it. Once again, this degeneracy doesn’t stop here.

You also think politeness is everything. It’s the only thing worth praising from an individual. You don’t bother to dig deeper about someone. You are easily fooled by the mask that hides his/her uglier side.

You don’t believe politeness and incompetence. You even don’t believe a polite individual can also be filled with immorality. Your love of politeness makes you blind.

That’s a dangerous mindset. If you have the right to vote, you would fill important positions with creatures whose only asset is manners. No skills. No morality. In order to protect your fragile feelings, you are willing to sacrifice the society who has to be governed by spitefulness.

As I have said before, I uphold politeness. I believe every single one of our interactions must be bound by rules. But, once again, you must have high standard. You must demand that politeness to be accompanied by professional competence, honesty and sincerity of the heart. Don’t be a shallow being.

Before I end my rant, some of you think this article is pro-Ahok propaganda; its topic is just a disguise. Well, you are half right.

I am not paid by his campaigning team. I am writing this article willingly, with or without getting paid. I am an actual Ahok supporter, even though I don’t reside in Jakarta.

For me, he does have a crude behaviour…and also leadership skill that is proven to be solid. All of the condemnations against him (apart from his crudeness) are proven to be bullshits. All of them are based on dishonesty.

Like him, I also spend a large chunk of my life living in Sumatra. Sumatrans are infamous for our crudeness (my Java-raised mom puts an importance on politeness). But, I also learn how we should judge people based on their “insides”. Their exterior is, more of than not, deceiving.

Besides, Ahok is aware of his flaw and he makes efforts to improve himself.

Keterlenaan berlebihan akan sopan santun

Ahok adalah manusia yang penuh kontroversi. Seorang pemimpin politik beragama Nasrani keturunan Tionghoa di negara mayoritas Muslim dan non-Tionghoa yang sedang dilanda penyakit-penyakit SARA. Kehadirannya saja sudah cukup untuk menyulut masalah.

Seburuknya ketiadaan toleransi tersebut, itu bukan satu-satunya “kritikan” terhadap Ahok yang saya anggap “tidak berbobot”. Banyak orang merasa tersinggung dengan kekasaran dan ketidaksantunannya. Bagi mereka, itu sudah lebih dari cukup untuk mencoreng namanya.

Mereka tidak peduli jika seorang politikus korup, serakah atau gila kuasa. Mereka hanya peduli dengan kesopan-santunannya, betapa ia menganggap ketenaran di khayalak lebih penting dari pada kemampuan memimpin dan harga diri. Ahok adalah kebalikan dari semua itu.

Ahok lebih suka mencaci orang-orang yang memang pantas dicaci maki di muka umum. Baginya, keterbukaan akan diri yang sebenarnya, kemampuan memimpin dan harga diri jauh lebih penting dari pada ketenaran di antara orang-orang yang gampang tertipu dengan topeng-topeng kepalsuan.

Tentu saja, itu bukan berarti saya membenci tata krama. Bahkan, saya menganggap itu sebagai hal yang bernilai tinggi. Kita tidak bisa memerlakukan orang lain dengan seenaknya. Semua tindakan kita harus aturan mainnya. Tetapi, permasalahan muncul saat tata krama dijadikan sebagai pembenaran hal-hal yang buruk.

Sopan santun dan ketidakjujuran dianggap sebagai dua hal yang sama. Berterus terang dianggap kasar. Itu adalah pola pikir yang dangkal. Jika anda berpikir seperti itu, berarti yang sebenarnya anda inginkan adalah keserasian palsu.

“Keserasian” terjadi bukan karena rasa hormat yang tulus, melainkan karena ketidakberanian untuk berterus terang. Kejujuran dapat menyingkap wabah kepalsuan di kehidupan kita. Kita yang mencintai status quo menganggap kejujuran sebagai ketidaksantunan dan sumber “perpecahan”. Kehinaan pikiran tersebut tidak berhenti di situ.

Ada anggapan bahwa kesantunan juga berarti tidak mengungkapan kata-kata miring terhadap pihak yang berkuasa. Sekali lagi, jika anda berpikir seperti itu, anda tidak menginginkan kesantunan. Anda menginginkan penyembahan massal terhadap orang-orang yang berpangkat lebih tinggi.

Anda menuhankan mereka, lebih dari anda menuhankan tuhan anda sendiri. Anda tidak rela jika mereka ”tersakiti” oleh kritikan yang paling membangun sekalipun. Apapun akan anda lakukan untuk melindungi sembahan anda. Bahkan, anda mendukung pemberian sanksi kepada para kritikus. Pada akhirnya, anda adalah kaki tangan penindasan.

Mungkin anda berpikir saya terlalu mengada-ada. Saya akui hal ini sulit dipercaya bagi anda yang sudah terbiasa menyembah sesama manusia. Mungkin anda setuju dengan pernyataan saya, tanpa sadar anda mungkin juga melakukan hal yang sama. Sekali lagi, kehinaan ini belum berhenti di situ.

Anda juga berpikir kesantunan adalah segala-segalanya. Itu adalah satu-satunya yang pantas dipuji dari seseorang. Anda tidak mau bersusah payah untuk menilai seseorang lebih dalam. Anda dengan mudahnya tertipu oleh topeng yang menutupi sisi buruk seseorang.

Anda tidak percaya bahwa seseorang dapat menyandang kesantunan dan ketidakmampuan secara bersamaan. Bahkan, anda tidak percaya bahwa seorang yang santun bisa dipenuhi dengan kenistaan moral. Kecintaan terhadap kesantunan membuat anda buta.

Itu adalah pola pikir yang berbahaya. Jika anda memiliki hak untuk mencoblos, anda akan mengisi jabatan-jabatan penting dengan makhluk-makhluk yang hanya bermodal santun. Keahlian nol. Kebajikan nol. Demi melindungi perasaan-perasaan anda yang mudah tersinggung, anda rela mengorbankan masyarakat yang harus dipimpin oleh kebrobrokan.

Seperti yang saya katakan sebelumnya, saya menjunjung tinggi kesantunan. Saya beranggap bahwa interaksi kita dengan sesama manusia harus ada aturan mainnya. Tetapi, sekali lagi, anda harus memiliki patokan yang tinggi. Anda harus menuntut agar kesantunan diiringi dengan kemahiran dalam bekerja, kejujuran dan ketulusan hati. Janganlah menjadi manusia yang dangkal.

Sebelum saya mengakhiri omelan, sebagian dari anda pasti berpikir bahwa artikel ini adalah propaganda kampanye Ahok; pokok pembicaraan di sini hanyalah kedok. Anda setengah benar.

Saya tidak dibayar oleh tim kampanye Ahok. Saya dengan rela menulis artikel ini, dibayar ataupun tidak. Saya memang adalah pendukung Ahok, walaupun saya tidak tinggal di Jakarta.

Menurut saya, beliau memang memiliki perangai yang kasar…dan juga kemampuan memimpin yang terbukti kokoh. Kecaman-kecaman tentang Ahok (kecuali tentang ketidaksantunannya) terbukti penuh omong kosong. Mereka semua hanyalah berdasarkan keculasan.

Seperti Ahok, saya juga menghabiskan sebagian besar hidup saya di Sumatra. Orang-orang Sumatra memang terkenal akan perangai kita yang buruk (ibu saya yang besar di Jawa sangat mementingkan sopan santun). Tetapi saya juga belajar bahwa penilaian orang harus ditekankan pada “isi” mereka. Bentuk luar mereka lebih sering menipu.

Lagi pula, Ahok juga sadar akan kekasarannya dan dia berusaha untuk lebih baik.