Monday, January 26, 2009

Time To Drink Yakult

Lol, here's an article from the New Paper that I think Wenz will appreciate.


Think of faceless online critics as bacteria
THE online flaming brigade was certainly busy over the last two weeks. The target was senior civil servant Tan Yong Soon who wrote about his family holiday in Paris.
By Eugene Wee
26 January 2009

THE online flaming brigade was certainly busy over the last two weeks. The target was senior civil servant Tan Yong Soon who wrote about his family holiday in Paris.

Then Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Charles Chong became a target when he was quoted as using the term 'lesser mortals' to describe Mr Tan's critics.

Online comments typically are hard-hitting and vulgar at times. Everyone, it seems, gets a big dose of courage when they wear a Harry Potter-style invisible cloak. Hiding behind fake names and untraceable e-mail addresses, it's easy to act like a warrior.

Online lynch mobs, of course, exist everywhere.

Last year, AFP reported that Internet thug attacks have become so nasty in the US that a new breed of reputation managers had emerged to help clients who have become victims of character assassination.

So, is the online mob a boon or bane?

Anonymity itself is not the enemy. In the case of corporate or government whistleblowers, anonymity encourages people to come forward with essential information that may reveal wrong doing .

The media, too, sometimes relies on anonymous sources when reporting sensitive stories. This usually happens when these sources agree to give up important information, which is otherwise unavailable, only if their names are not revealed due to fear of reprisal or embarrassment.

But a crucial point is that these anonymous sources are known to someone, like a reporter, and efforts are made to verify the information supplied.

But online critics are largely faceless. You can't tell if it's just a small group or an individual kicking up a storm, or if there is widespread discontent.

The value of online opinions rise considerably when people are prepared to show their faces and stand up for what they believe in.

If you won're not brave enough to put your name or face to strong views, others are unlikely to take them seriously.

Don't blame 'Big Brother' for not identifying yourself. See the punchy comments in the letters to newspapers. These readers have the guts to speak their minds openly.

Why can't more do the same in cyberspace? Blogs like, and have names to them. And Messrs Alex Au, Eugene Yeo and Choo Zheng Xi have earned themselves a growing number of readers.

As for the anonymous bunch, think of them as bacteria who feed on dead plants or animals. Online flamers feed on those who are 'dead' when public opinion turns against them because of some act or omission.

The flamers play a part in breaking down issues and dissipating pent-up anger. Their rants might lead others to disclose information that might expose hidden practices.

Just like good and bad bacteria

Like the bacteria that decompose tissue and nourish the soil, there is some good in having such online critics.

But there are also vicious online critics who can destroy reputations with baseless accusations.

They are like the bacteria that cause diseases in plants and animals, making them sick or even killing them. One bacterium caused the bubonic plague or the Black Death (so named because of the colour of the victim's face after death).

TB, anthrax, cholera, food poisoning, and pneumonia are all the work of ugly bacteria.

So, Mr Online Critic, please decide what kind of bacteria you want to be.

Keep your anonymity, if you lack the guts, but play a useful role - like the bacteria that eats oil ( a big help to clean up oil spills), and the bacteria used in sewage treatment plants to purify water.

Many bacteria are harmless when they are contained. For example, the bacteria, E. coli, live in the intestines of people, helping them digest food as well as producing vitamins.

But when E Coli escapes, it can contaminate water and food. The same can happen when the wild comments of faceless critics get into the mainstream.

They can wind up leaving nothing more than a pile of s***.

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