It was raining lightly in Singapore that late afternoon. Standing on a bus platform near City Hall station, I observed how this tiny island nation run its daily. I saw flocks of corporate warriors, with their pale faces, commuted indifferently during this rush hour. Some with their phone headset plugged into both ears. Some didn’t really bother about the water droplets dripping onto their faces. They moved efficiently. Rapid and cold.
Amidst the crowd of other lining passengers, I saw my bus came approaching. It was a typical double-decker hop-on city bus. “Singapore Kindness Movement” it says. A huge tagline of a movement was painted alongside its giant body, decorated with an illustration of sun flower and smiling Lion.
The word “kindness” reverberates in my mind for a little while and lingers. What is this country trying to say with such a massive and organized campaign to promote kindness among its citizen? Were the zombie faces I saw just now hinted that kindness has long time dead?
In fact, kindness movement is an organized campaign inspired by PM Goh’s idea back in 1996. The Singapore Kindness Movement was then born as a non profit entity, inspiring people to be considerate and more gracious, envisioning Singapore to be the best home for everyone.
Some critics says, it was way too fabricated, and therefore the actions are not sincere from the heart. But to me personally, I would say what is wrong with fabrication? Everything is fabricated these days, even religions and their preachings.
Back in the classroom, I was stumbled upon the discussion about the future evolution of technology, so called Web 3.0. It was John Markoff from New York Times who is believed to be the person behind the naming of Web3.0, an evolution (or revolution?) of third generation of Internet-based services which is so damn smart that sometimes beyond my imagination (and therefore Stephen Hawking said it’s the bell rings of human extinction when artificial intelligence surpasses human ability to evolve). Now, I can see the sign is coming thru.
Despite the flashing slides and my professor’s super enthusiastic yet too technical presentation, I went into a deep contemplation. It is evident that technologies are made to make life easier, more transparent and fair, by flushing meta information to our brain so we can consider and make the best decision out of it. Various digital products and web apps nowadays are made to help human outsource some of their hassle into an engine, for free. Ranging from mobile apps to order a taxi, tools to track your pizza delivery up to sophisticated learning platform that potentially compete head-to-head with an expensive degree program in the university, all these technologies are dedicated to help human’s live (some parts of it, however, to destroy it).
And now, the use of money is shifting too. From a mere trading goods or services using real money, into trading values. Phone-based cash, Bitcoin and such a like are the future of our financial systems. The world is shifting (or drifting) into a relatively unknown direction.
But one thing for sure. In the emergence of social media, people are willing to share, more than any time in mankind history. Some, indeed, crack someone else’s proprietary and share it for fun, a Robin Hood of the digital age.
We are now addicted to freebees, open source. Therefore, people are forced to collaborate, co-create and form a community to work together and find better solution for everyone, creating a community of ‘digital volunteerism’. We all see young startups are racing for ideas, systems and solutions even to most simple snag, which sometimes, or even most of the time, they share it for free.
I keep on wondering. What is next.
The class ended late that evening, almost 22.30. The rain had stopped, leaving water droplets on the leaves and haphazard downpour leftover alongside the pedestrian road side. Some puddles reflected the gas-fueled street light. It was sparkling yellow, glowing like a golden glint.
Going into the MRT station, it was strangely unfilled. I rode an empty escalator down to the platform. It was a long ride. To me, it felt more theatrical than peculiar.
Only a few passengers were standing on the platform that night, waiting the train to arrive in three minutes time.
Inside the train, I saw another signage that I won’t find anywhere else on Earth but Singapore.
It’s a typical Singaporean way (campaign) to ask passenger to take down their backpack when they are on-board the train, thus giving more space and being considerate to other fellow passengers.
Through all these campaigns, Singapore is trying to prove that they are pioneer in moving their society into a more civilized, considerate and dignified nation. And they succeeded, not all but most of them.
At the end, in the uprising of World 3.0, we are actually creature in the middle. The sinful angels and pious demons. And every single day of our life is a choice to keep the balance in between.
Note : The “Hop on new kindness” image is taken from a New Nation article titled Hop on New Kindness Campaign