If you believe in the freedom of speech, stay away from the comments section on web articles.
There is no quicker way to lose your faith in humanity than by reading comments on the internet. On a good day, you will find someone calling Justin Bieber a ‘faggot’. (thumbs up if you agree!)
On a bad day however, you will find an Armchair Hitler earnestly advocating a Holocaust for the lolz.
But ‘awful’ does not always mean boring, and there are certainly worse ways to become a cynic. In Singapore, the comments sections are relatively tame as compared to what you can find abroad. There are no screeching Nazis or people talking to the voices in their head.
That being said, good sense is more than just an absence of extremism and our country’s comment sections are certainly not without their own special brand of lunacy.
So here’s a rough guide to the underappreciated voices that you will find in every Singaporean comments section.
1. The Paper General
The Paper General is a keyboard warrior who believes that all of Singapore’s problems originate in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). He usually surfaces after a national crisis to blame ex-SAF civil servants for attaining qualifications that are not 100% relevant to yesterday’s crisis.
To get his point across, he usually types PAPER GENERAL in all caps. Probably because flouting of grammatical convention underlines his anger and the contempt he feels for their “USELESS PAPER EDUCATIONS”.
Train breakdown? PAPER GENERAL. Orchard road flooding? PAPER GENERAL.
The origins of his anger remain unknown, but scientists agree that it is likely a product of traumas sustained in youth. Once upon a time, Paper General suffered under the thumb of an incompetent sir or encik during his National Service. Unable to seek redress, his hatred of the lousy superior grew and grew until it encompassed the whole of SAF.
His reasoning is as follows:
(A) My officer is fucked up.
(B) My officer is part of the SAF.
(C) Therefore everyone and everything associated with the SAF must be fucked up because that is the only logical explanation.
2. The Wistful Necromancer
The Wistful Necromancer has a non-answer to every problem in Singapore – Bring Lee Kuan Yew back from the dead.
He begins every comment by wishing “If LKY were still alive…” and follows up by writing a fanfiction piece / Netflix Original starring our late Minister Mentor.
Never mind the laws of physics or that there are only 24 hours in a day. If LKY were still alive, the trains would be fixed by tomorrow, taxes would be lowered and China would have returned our Terrex vehicles with a box of chocolates. If we’re good little boys and girls, LKY would even kiss us goodnight and give every Singaporean a talking unicorn’s worth of GST vouchers.
Some part of me dies whenever I read one of these shitty fairy tales for adult-children. If LKY were still alive, I think he would dish out a thundering slap on the commenter for making him play Gandalf in such a tedious fantasy.
3. Ellipsis Guy
Somewhere……. in his sea of dots…. Ellipsis guy may have an insightful point….. Perhaps he has written the greatest work of literature since War and Peace…. Or maybe he has found a cure for cancer…. Too bad because no one will take you seriously…. If you refuse to use a comma…..
4. The Punisher
There is no proof that harsher sentences deter criminals or improve public safety.
Jail will not discourage the hardened criminal in the same way that inconvenient facts do not deter The Punisher, who believes that death is way too lenient for some of Singapore’s worst offenders.
You’ve met him before ‒ he is the avenging angel of the comment section who wants to hang violent offenders without trial and deport any foreigner who is found publicly drunk.
If he had his way, Obike abusers would throw bicycles at each other to the death in an arena for our amusement, and litterbugs would be publicly flogged on the Padang.
In other words, he wants Singapore to be like Game of Thrones because there is no true justice without roasting people alive.
5. Salary Man
Do you have a friend who goes to the gym and refuses to stop talking about it?
If you do, think of Salary Man as the political equivalent of that friend. In the decade or so since our ministers’ salaries were increased, he has managed to link every single grievance to the injustice of our ministers receiving fat paychecks.
When MRT trains collide, the gross incompetence of the authorities is made worse by the ministers’ absurd monthly salaries. When the food prices at the kopitiam rise, he will kindly remind you that your cai png would cost nothing if you made anything close to what Tharman Shanmugaratnam earned.
If you go on holiday and tell him how much you spent, the cost is not measured in hundreds or thousands of dollars, but expressed as a fraction of Lee Hsien Loong’s annual income because that is the only mathematical scale which he can understand.
6. Definitely Not Racist
Not Racist Person can usually be found in the comments section of an article which identified the newsmakers’ race for no particular reason. If you want to be an exemplary citizen like him, just follow these simple steps:
- Confidently state that you are not racist.
- Follow up with a racially insensitive generalisation about an entire group of people based on one incident.
- Provide evidence that proves your hypothesis (“I know a friend who works there and he said this is true”).
- Or even better, get your ethnic acquaintance to testify against his own group (“I heard it from a Indian / PRC / Malay / Ang Moh who said that this is true”).
- If need be, upgrade acquaintance to a close friend so you sound more convincing.
- Reaffirm that you are not racist because what you said was objectively ‘true’.
Voila! You are now a “Not Racist Person” on the internet. Just remember to always start your sentence with “I’m not racist but…” in case someone takes offence and mistakes you for a real racist.
I’m not racist but it’s usually the Indians and the white guys who will call you out on this.
7. Mr. Orbi Good
Most Singaporeans stop saying ‘Orbi Good’ by the time they leave primary school. After all, whatever happens, there is absolutely nothing you can gain from laughing at someone’s misfortune.
Unfortunately, no one explained this to the opposition supporter known as Mr. Orbi Good, who continues to believe that “I told you so” is the best way to win over people of different beliefs.
Whether you’re unhappy about the water price hike or overflowing rubbish bins, he will always be there to remind you that you deserve it for voting PAP in the last election.
Did your lift break down? Serves you right for not supporting Chee Soon Juan in 2016.
I’m not sure if Mr. Orbi Good has ever won anyone over to his cause but he probably doesn’t even care. He just wants to prove that he is correct and you are wrong because nothing tastes sweeter than smugness.