Archive for the ‘COMS101’ Category


I introduce to you: the iPhone 4G.

This “hand phone” of today exemplifies how technology has improved our way of communication compared to the past.

Remember what a hand phone used to look like?

How about a hand phone of today?

A phone of today can make calls, entertain you with games and music, store data, check emails, connect to the internet and even make video calls to name a few. With the thousands of applications available for download, the usage of an iPhone is endless!

We can see how constrains in communications has been drastically improved. Verbal communication are instant with no boundaries of distance, information sent and received are instant and now with video calls interactivity is improved drastically. The internet can be accessed anywhere and business emails and information can be retrieved at any time.

Now, with the monopoly of a phone that can do almost anything, I can imagine the people of the mp3, camera and even the gaming companies panicking! By making a phone that can do everything their product can and more, a latent dysfunction is occurring, or in order words they are “Spoiling the market”.

Check this out:

Why is there a drop in video game sales?

Games of today need not be bought off the self, each costing about eighty dollars and giving you hours of gameplay. Games of today are downloaded straight into your phone, costing about 99 cents and available for short term bouts of fun, anywhere. It is no wonder that game sales have decreased.

Reading a book?

I find it so amazing that a hand phone is not just a phone today. Advancement in technology has changed the function of a phone. Making calls are just one of the ways to communicate. This buffet of options for the user can cause what I call the “Impatient generation”: technologically savvy users who are so used to this amount of integration and speed of processing that we take it for granted and cannot accept anything worse, no matter how slight.
Imagine using a 56k modem to visit a friend on Facebook, with about, 100 pictures?

Teenagers in your area annoying you?

Angry Birds, anyone?

All images and videos are not owned by me but by their respective owners.


Good Night, and Good Luck.

The third parent in our household is the television. This electrical box has watched me grow up and has appealed to me at every stage of my life. Let’s see what’s on the boob tube today?

All these are the current shows that are playing on Channel 5, shows like “Desperate Housewives”, “Drop Dead Diva” and “90210” to name a few. So what kind of World do these shows portray to us?

The women of Wysteria Lane sure know how to throw a party! Can you imagine blasting off a shotgun from your HDB flat window to your crooning boyfriend below? Impossible! I can just imagine the mass hysteria and confusion that would ensue.

Drop Dead Diva (DDD) is interesting as it takes on the lesson of stereotyping. This anti-hero of a show shows how a “dumb blonde” learns to accept her new brunette and overweight body and the series showcases the stages of her self-actualisation. Don’t you find it interesting how although this show does break the stereotype, it actually fortifies it first by casting the opposite of a blonde, skinny model to be an overweight, brunette lawyer! Yes, I understand the good intention of the show and how the main character’s realisation does come later, but why choose these images for the opposites? They are answering to the known stereotype image of a “dumb blonde” and found the opposite to be the brunette, I guess its to achieve common ground with its viewers quicker.

Now, but how “real” are these shows? Could you sing on the streets and get shot by a shotgun in Singapore? Could you throw a paperweight out of a window in CBD and get away with it? (in the DDD video) Nope! But what happens when the line between dramatization and reality is blurred?

I refer to the Cultivation Theory by George Gerbner (1976) on how television influences and “cultivates” us as we grow up watching it. This channel of mass media communication changes with the times and adapts to appeal to the mass public of the present. Although we can say that we choose what we want to see and take, the people that create the programs on television study and know what we want to see. They could be using Logo, Ethos and Pathos to persuade us to buy something, or even send subliminal messages through product placement in your favourite television series. With the dramatization of life, it is no wonder “Mean World Syndrome” exists! I could get hit by a falling paperweight in CBD!

With the function of a family being diversified by the government and now even the television, it leads me to wonder just how much we are influenced by it. No one is left out of the cultivation, as the the different timeslots cater to different ages and how the different shows appeal to different taste. All cultivating us slowly, as long as you turn the television on. So, how many parents do actually have?

Want to score? Learn form “House”!

There is no escape from the television, it sits in every home waiting for you. Next time you go to a house party, turn on the television and notice how the interaction between people change.

All images and videos are not owned by me but by their respective owners.

..and here’s Ollie with the weather.

Top story today: The US commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal , has been removed from his post. FOX and Al Jazeera news, one based in US and the latter in Doha, Qatar, covered this story on their front page.
Click on the pictures below for the link to both their stories:

On first look, it is interesting how the choice of words used in the headlines differ so much. Using the words “sacked” by Al Jazeera gives a much more shameful notion compared to the word “relieved” used by FOX. If you read both articles, you would have noticed a difference in impression that is given of General McChrystal. In my opinion, the poorer impression is given by Al Jazeera, using terms like “poor judgement” in regards to the general while FOX is seemed to be trying to “save his face”, showering him with mixed reactions by the officials.

Now that the decision to remove the general is made, I would think that the recovery would be the next issue the government is facing. Who will take his place and how would the people of Afghanistan and the others in the World react to the next big decision? Repeated news coverage by FOX raises the importance of this issue and gets its viewers thinking.

Check this related article out, found on the side bar of the “most read” news, regarding the impact of General McChrystal exit citing him as one of the key players of the US strategy in Afghanistan.

Watch this video on FOX’s coverage if the newly appoint general, Patraeus, is qualified for the job.
Is Petraeus the Right Man for Afghanistan?.

All the coverage gets the readers thinking if such a loss of an important figure was worth it at all and if in fact General McChrystal’s actions was dire enough for removal. The video shows their opinions in defending General McChrystal. Watching it made me realise how there is so much press freedom in the US! Media hegemony, supported by the Marx view, really shows here how economic power overrules political power. The guys at FOX can really speak their mind, even towards the president!

Now the agenda setting function is taking place, with FOX giving extensive coverage about General McChrystal’s actions and the US administration reactions. All these prime the viewers to think about, not what to think of, Obama’s quality of a president, the decision making skills of the US government and its strategy in Afganistan.

How about Al Jazeera’s coverage?

I find it so interesting that one article from an influential magazine can bring down the career of a General so important and influential in the relationship between nations. This really showed me the power of mass media and how the moderate effects theory causes all the reactions in the mass media to sway or maintain the perception of its viewers. Also, did you notice how both news companies shifted the spotlight from the general and his removal to the ability of President Obama? It’s getting the viewers thinking!

Let’s keep it simple guys, like this:

All images and videos are not owned by me but by their respective owners.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?

An interesting thought that hit me at this week’s COMS101 lesson was how Edward T. Hall has a theory of how one’s culture can be reflected by how one behaves when he/she is challenged.

Introducing “Room101”, a locally produced variety show that pits its contestants with weekly challenges where losers will face elimination, giving up their chance of an adventure holiday with a friend.

I refer to this challenge as it represents the views of Individualism vs Collectivism by Harry Triandis’ as well as the classic dimension of cultures by Edward Hall.

Though the players in the game know that the prize is only for one (individualist goal), the short term goal of winning the week’s challenge in the video becomes a group goal (collectivist goal). We can see great readiness to cooperate in the groups of three, who were once competitors.
The conformity to cooperate, forging a high interdependence and even self-sacrifice for in-group members can be witnessed in the video (4.15min, where Farid is pushing Elizabeth forward). Even this episode’s challenge had a reward equal in distribution, where being the last to complete meant elimination of the entire team.

Ethan (1.28min), an interesting character in the series, strikes me as more of an individualist. Although he had conformed to the week’s goals, his freedom of speech and honesty amongst his group members show when he instructs them how to say the group’s cheer (1.32min). At 2.25min,
his struggling toward the objective with a speech of how “I AM GANDOLF” also gives his cultural background away, as mentioned by Edward T. Hall. At this moment you can see his “separation” from his group mates behind him. His difference amongst the rest interprets to me how an individualist, can stand out of the crowd and seem like a misfit trying to conform with the others, even having a reaction from Natasha to “shut up” at 2.29min.

Using Edward Hall’s theory of the classic dimension of culture, my assessment of the players in the game also tells me that they belong to a “low contact culture”. The players in the game are highly verbally expressive, especially when the round started. At 3.10 minutes in, the first group to win expressed how excited they were etc. An interesting point to note is how personal opinions of group members are told behind their backs and not confronted to them.

How about this one?

“Classroom 101” is highly similar to the situation we are facing in SIM. During our terms in school, we too are put into groups to adapt a collectivism culture amongst the team members. At the end of our studies in SIM, our results are of our own and they represent a singular student. When the stressful moments of disagreements and deadlines hit, we may witness the control mechanism of our friends, reflecting their cultural background/standing. The individualist may have his/her own goals, seem out of place, not working together with the rest.

My take is how although freedom of the individualist does seem to be special, creative and at times ideal, collectivism is not necessarily negative as the groups seen in the video above completed their tasks together quickly with a common goal. Projects in school can be completed faster by delegating work with quality checked by the importance of social validity and mutual sympathy for one another. An occasional individualist can give us refreshing views and perceptions that both sides can benefit. Is there a society that is truly one but not the other? I feel the situation followed by the role that we take on (hence the size and proximity of the society) shows our current stand amongst these two concepts.

The theory of Individualism versus Collectivism can also be seen from the classic “LEEROY JENKINS!!” case study from the World of Warcraft online game. Now, can you spot the individualist in this video?

All images and videos are not owned by me but by their respective owners.

All your base are belong to us

Do opposites attract? Check out this trailer for the upcoming Cruise and Diaz movie “Knight and Day”.

What an interesting pair up of characters. Cameron Diaz plays a lady suddenly caught in extremely dangerous situations ever since bumping into the character played by Tom Cruise. By just watching the trailer, I can tell that this movie will rely on the two aspects that most movies have: main story and romantic character development. This is interesting because you can see the DeFleur et al framework of three taking place. The “Engagement” aspect where Diaz bumps into Cruise and finds him attractive, to the “Management” aspect that I foresee will be shown throughout the movie. Whether there is “Disengagement” or not, we shall see when it shows in cinemas.

We can also look at it from the “Relational Formation” and “Development” point of view and notice how the five aspects can be applicable in this movie. Firstly, as mentioned was the “general appearance, how Diaz had a good impression when she first met Cruise.
Now, the interesting part of this movie is that they emphasized on the “Dissimilarity” aspect. The two characters in this movie are totally different. What type of relationship are they having? The trailer hinted that he chose not to kill her but keeps us in suspense because the viewers do not know why he did so. A harmless lady paired with a lethal agent on the run. This combination adds to the humour of the movie to watch how these two opposites “attract”! From the trailer we can see that a relationship is forming between them, which I also feel is due to the high proximity of the two characters, with Cruise constantly meeting up with her amidst the danger.

Now, the interesting thought is how their relationship once established in the movie meet with the aspects of “maintenance”. How much will Cruise disclose about himself? How do they resolve their conflicts of their different lifestyle and perceptions? Will it be resolved in a functional or dysfunctional way? I’m very curious to see how their relationship develops in the movie!

When we think of relationships, we tend to see:


Or This!

But did you have this in mind?


Check this out:

Strange huh! Imagine being married to a game. How would the “Formation” and “Maintenance” processes of a relationship then apply?

Now I feel that if the formation aspects were applied it would definitely be one sided. The Japanese man is the relationship starter and the virtual character in the game fulfils his aspects of, for example, general appearance and similarity.
The maintenance aspect is also hard to imagine. How is the virtual character going have disclosure in the relationship? How is conflict of different perceptions going to take place? The form of communication that takes place is programmed into the game. Stripped of the interface, the Japanese man is actually having a relationship with the Artificial Intelligence of the program!

But since there is no feedback of the Japanese guy from the virtual character, is it considered a relationship?

I guess we must look at “relationship” in a different context. What we have been focusing on in COMS101 is inter-person relationship. I would perceive this situation of what the guy feels the “relationship” of the virtual character is to him. The guy may perceive it as a relationship, when in fact the game has no say (or can’t, say)!

But imagine this, if a scientist were to create a robot to mimic himself in exactly every way that he communicates, e.g. verbal and non-verbal characteristics, and plant it with the culture and perception of the creator in the A.I to react like how the creator would react to situations, is it a valid form of relationship if this Japanese person marries this robot?

The robot, is going to be something like this:

Wanna kiss?

All images and videos are not owned by me but by their respective owners.

Lying may be your favourite position

The interesting thing about communicating is everything else you are not saying. I have always had a strong interest in non-verbal cues, the subtle messages that you bring across to the receiver for interpretation, which may not always be intentional. It is said that verbal communication only brings across 7 percent of your message with the non-verbal brings across the rest. That’s 93 percent of the message left to what you don’t say! Here are some examples how non-verbal communications can give us away, even before the verbal conversation begins!

Kinesics, the study of body language and facial expressions, are my favourite.
Click on the picture to watch (in new tab):

Watching you!

From my favourite new show, “Lie to me”, this clip shows how the character played by Tim Roth is an expert in detecting liars, or people who are using “adaptors” to hide their emotions. The micro-expressions (the hidden smile, shoulder shrug and the concealed scorn) that show on the criminal’s face when asked a question that evokes his emotions only appear for a split second. Did you identify it the first time around? All these expressions often show on our faces when we communicate with others. Try identifying your friends’ micro-expressions!

Now check this out:

Oculesics, the study of the eyes, intrigues me greatly as they say that the “eyes are the window to the soul”.

Have you ever seen a fake smile?


Take your finger and block of his smile. What emotion does his eyes portray?

Now, on to physical appearances. As I stated last week about perception, our taste very much depends on the selection and organisation of the information communicated to us. As soon as we step out of our doors, our avatar communicates a message to those around us.

What do these people communicate to you if you saw them on the way to school?




Hot! (in a non-bisexual way)

From these examples, you can now see how non-verbal communications can give you away!
The interesting issue is, what are you really telling others, even as you speak to them? These non-verbal cues are often subconscious and happen every day around us. Remember your last conversation? What did you think of the receiver before you spoke? Was there an attempt by you to hide an emotion about something? Were you able to control your “adaptors”? Have you ever felt that the person you are talking to disagrees with you, without him/her actually saying it? All the answers to these questions lie in non-verbal communication.

Do take note, however, that Kinesics can be misleading sometimes. Someone may scratch his nose because of a real itch instead of a reaction to lying. Sweaty palms could be due to genetics instead of nervousness.

I feel that knowing these non-verbal cues help enhance your communication with others as it tunes you to become more receptive to the real needs of the people you talk to. It could help you identify when someone is lying or feeling uncomfortable, giving you a signal to stop or change the particular topic of discussion. This subtle skill, which some are naturally more receptive to than others, is very essential at any point of communication, be it at work or even at home. Plus, you learn to be a great liar! If 93 percent of communication comes from the non-verbal cues, can you imagine how much more you can learn about a person by paying attention to that 93 percent and understanding his/her real emotions?

The greatest liar of all, perhaps, is Homer Simpson:

All images and videos are not owned by me but by their respective owners.

Hairy Crab, anyone?

Good day everyone! First, a video!

Did you feel a sudden rush of familiarisation for what MysteryGuitarMan was playing? The mixture of initial “music” he was playing just felt wrong to me, like off beat random notes and rhythm put together. As with tendencies in perception , I guess I judged too quickly on what he was playing, rather than what he was doing: recording and playing a song backwards!

Ok, now that that’s done, I would like to show you a picture:


Yes! Women with armpit hair!

Personally it REALLY turns me off! Looking at this perception of mine, I think of the influences that have caused me to feel this way. Of the 5 factors, I’m thinking that mass media, my social network and environment had an important part to play to making me feel so disgusted by that picture! Since young, television had been showing me this:

My girl friends too have either shaven or waxed armpits. A normal day on the MRT or the bus would not get me face to face with a lady’s hairy armpit too.

The interesting thing is that I think this has been organised into my prototype of what a woman’s armpit would look like. It’s quite sad actually, cause isn’t the process of having hair there natural? I mean, then why is it normal for men to be seen with armpit hair then?

In Singapore, it’s normal for men to sport armpit hair but not for women (right?!) Just to play safe and check that it has become a social norm, I went to google for Singapore based forums online about views on women with armpit hair:

You can view the site here.

Judging from the posts, I would say that my perception about this issue in Singapore is considered normal, hence my influence of selection due to the environment around me.

Now however, I heard that if we went to France, the women there apparently are accustomed to not shaving their armpits at all! Anyone care to enlighten?

This armpit issue calls for much debate:

It’s a natural process

Why is it acceptable for men here to have armpit hair and not for women?

Is it even normal for men to have armpit hair present? ( I know of guys who have hair and guys who do not. Girls none so far.)

I call for a poll!

I have been shocked before on the MRT seeing long strands of hair sticking out from a lady in front of me. It wasn’t because of the hair, it was because there WAS hair! I have been disgusted by another man’s armpit hair too but it was because of the hair! There is a difference!

Writing this post forced my gag reflex to go off a few times. It really is interesting to see how I feel disgusted by the mental image of a lady’s armpit hair to that extent.

This is the power of perception, which is the purpose of my post. How we form a perception about something as trival as armpit hair reflects on how we take in and select, organise and interpret our suroundings. This can be said of many of our views, from the silly to the most important, which also varies our taste from person to person. The difference in perception can also be the cause of conflict. However, expansion of new ideas and views should always be welcomed, but not necessarily agreed on. What is the perception of our leaders in the government? Do we have the same perspective for most issues? If not, why and how will we deal with it? Will it be possible for the World to have common perception if only one standing culture exists?

Anyway, if Singapore passed a law that none shall shave, my persistence of first impression will cause my supreme discomfort in trying to shake of the perception I already have.I am very interested to hear and compare what a girl and a guy feels about armpit hair of both sexes, and why. Girls, why do you shave?

*Pictures and videos not owned by me but by their respective owners.
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