October 25, 2009

Mean World Syndrome is a phenomenon where the violence-related content of mass media convinces viewers that the world is more dangerous than it actually is. It prompts a desire for more protection than is warranted by any actual threat.

Mean World Syndrome is one of the main conclusions of cultivation theory. The term was coined by George Gerbner, a pioneer researcher on the effects of television on society, when he noted that people who watched a large amount of television tended to think of the world as an intimidating and unforgiving place. The more we desire “interesting” headlines, the more related media will be generated and in turn, we will view the world through a pessimist’s view. Television reinforces the worst fears and apprehensions and paranoia of people.

From, the top headlines are “Baghdad Car Bombs Near Government Offices Kill 91”, “Two Murder-Suicides Rock New Hampshire”, “Trains collide in Egypt, 18 killed”, ” U.S. Service Member Killed in Afghan Blast”, ..etc. They all have one common factor- violence.

But really, who is to be blamed for this? We, as consumers, demand these gory headlines. Truth to be told, the media is just doing what they can, as producer to capture larger market share. “If it bleeds it leads”. The media loves violence. Television, radio, and film will for the most part have much higher ratings if it’s about a bunch of people getting murdered rather than something nice, like somebody saving a cat from a tree. Ultimately, it’s a statement about America’s fascination with violence. This is the sad truth.

Will mean world syndrome exist in the future? The answer is tied to as to whether we, as consumers will continue to demand for these media content filled with reports of worldwide violence. Do not be surprised if your kids next time ask you “Daddy, is the world really that horrible?”


Tick Tock

October 18, 2009

There are two perspectives of time – polychronic and monochronic.


  • Do one thing at a time
  • Concentrate on the job
  • Take time commitments (deadlines, schedules) seriously
  • Are low-context and need information
  • Are committed to the job
  • Adhere religiously to plans
  • Are concerned about not disturbing others; follow rules of privacy and consideration
  • Show great respect for private property; seldom borrow or lend
  • Emphasize promptness
  • Are accustomed to short-term relationships


  • Do many things at once
  • Are highly distractible and subject to interruptions
  • Consider time commitments an objective to be achieved, if possible
  • Are high-context and already have information
  • Are committed to people and human relationships
  • Change plans often and easily
  • Are more concerned with those who are closely related (family, friends, close business associates) than with privacy
  • Borrow and lend things often and easily
  • Base promptness on the relationship
  • Have strong tendency to build lifetime relationships

In one of our lectures, the instructor asked our class if we are always late or punctual for meetings. I was one of the few who put up their hands who said that they are 60% (or less) punctual. She then classified me as someone with polychronic personality. She is no fortune-teller but she is 80% right.

I, for one, am highly distractible and subject to interruptions. I have been writing this blog entry since 10:30 AM (now is 12:24 PM). In between, there is airline manager, fish a fish, and random comments on facebook. Now, I am juggling with MSN conversations, Microsoft word, and Youtube. I planned to finish this entry by 12, but just 40 minutes ago, I realised it is an impossible task, no matter how fast I type, so the new deadline (for myself) is 1PM.

Like I said above, I am mostly a polychronic individual but I admit that I am monochronic to a small extent as well. I would sometimes head down to the library near my house to study, as they have the reference floor where it is usually the quietest. However, there will always, always be some irritating people who chit chat loudly without giving much thought to their surroundings. I would always be the person who has to constantly ‘shhh’ them because I value rules of privacy and consideration. In the first place, if they want to chatter among themselves, they should not even be in the library, moreover the reference section! I am even secretly hoping that the library board will make rules addressing this issue soon.

I show great respect for private property. I seldom borrow or lend. Last week, when I was about to go home from my tutee’s house, I realised that my ez-link card had no more value and I only carried notes with me. Her mom offered to lend me $1.50 for the bus fare and insisted that I should just take it. The next week, I returned $1.50 to my student, telling her to only give her mom after the lesson. Although it is a small sum, I do not like to borrow from other people, especially when it concerns money. Even if I do, I will always return it as soon as possible. The only people whom I usually borrow things from are my closest friends.

Therefore, I feel that there is no one whose personality is absolutely polychronic or monochronic. Even a monochronic-inclined person will be late at times. I am currently trying to achieve the balance between the two to suit different occasions. It would be interesting though, to know if there is any individuals out there who is absolutely polychronic or absolutely monochronic. Are you?

p.s: I finished this entry before 1!


October 10, 2009

Eco-terrorism is a controversial term applied to acts of violence or sabotage committed in support of ecological, environmental, or animal rights causes against persons or their property. It has also been used to describe financial losses incurred through boycott and protest activities. One of the organizations that have been accused of eco-terrorism is Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The FBI in 2001 named the ELF as “one of the most active extremist elements in the United States”, and a “terrorist threat,” although they publicly disavow harm to humans or animals.

In 2008, one of the latest ELF arsons was reported on the morning of March 3, when explosive devices set fire to four multi-million dollar homes from the 2007 Seattle Street of Dreams in Echo Lake, Washington, costing $7 million in damage. Authorities described the act as “domestic terrorism” after finding “ELF” spray-painted in red letters, mocking claims that the homes were environmentally friendly: “Built Green? Nope black! McMansions in RCDs r not green. ELF.”[62] A criminology professor replied saying: “The real unfortunate thing is many citizens will empathize with ELF because their goal is the environment.”

ELF has all the characteristics of a groupthink. They use “economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment”. Their means are not limited to harmless protests, but they even burn properties just to get their message across to the mass, which is against the law. Their defiance against the police shows illusion of invulnerability and their belief in group’s own morality. ELF also believes that their “enemies” are the ones at fault and they are only serving them justice, a sign of shared stereotypes.

ELF has good intentions of protecting our Earth, but they use the wrong methods to express their views. This proves that even with good intentions, organizations with groupthink symptoms will still be detrimental to the society. In your opinion, especially environmentalists, do you agree with ELF’s way of “educating” the mass? Will there be any good from an organization with groupthink symptoms?

In my personal opinion, there will never be any benefits. This is due to the simple fact that these organizations fail to look at things from another perspective, which is crucial in an effective communication.

Credits :

You + Me = 10

October 3, 2009

We have often wondered how a relationship works. Perhaps that is why I was a little sceptical when my instructor taught us about Knapp Model of Relational Development. Is it really that easy, so much so that it can be compacted into (what seems to be simple) 10 stages?


It starts from initiating and ends at (obviously) terminating. The whole relationship process can follow from stage 1 up to stage 10 or skip stages here and there.

In my personal opinion: most marriages are either at bonding, or stagnating, puppy love usually skips the whole relational maintenance (keyword: usually), and relationships from mid 20-s mostly go through pretty much most of the 10 stages. You can disagree; I would be thrilled to hear other point of views!

Love has always been a special word. I think that it plays a special role in Knapp’s model as well. The more one feel for the other party, the higher the chances of them going through most or if not, all of the 10 stages. Crushes or infatuations are easy and quick to intensify but to hold past ‘relational maintenance’ stages, it would need something more – commitment.

I am not saying that crushes cannot go through all the 10 stages. They can, but I feel that they will reach ‘coming apart’ stages pretty quickly as well as compared to serious relationships. For us, who have had the luck to be in love, know that the hardest stage of any relationship is probably the last stage.

On a lighter note, you might wish to catch Paper Heart, a story about what love is to different people, and how you might just find love even if you’re a Charlyne ;>

In communication, there are both verbal and non-verbal aspects. For the latter, it is receiver-oriented, which means that it is the reader who will attach meaning or nonverbal cues. If you were to give a thousand folded paper cranes to a Singaporean, she will probably raise her eyebrow in confusion. On the other hand, a Japanese would be delighted to receive your exorbitant gift (yes we are still referring to the same paper cranes). Their reactions are independent of your initial intention for the ‘gift’ – whether you meant it as a genuine present or just showing them your origami skills.

Paper cranes can be considered to be an objectics or artefacts. In Japan, when you present someone with a thousand folded cranes (usually your loved ones), it can mean several things.


Folding a crane takes time, patience and understanding. These same qualities are vital for a marriage to last. This is why the symbology of 1,000 hand-folded cranes decorating a wedding is so powerful.

The ancient practice of a man and woman folding 1,000 cranes for their wedding is called sembazuru. The tradition itself is called Tsuru wa sennen. The time and energy put into the hand-folded cranes symbolized the patience and trust necessary to sustain a happy marriage.


When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, Sadako Sasaki was only 2 years old. She knew little of world politics or wars. All she knew is that her young life was destroyed. She developed leukaemia as she grew up.

Sadako latched on to the legend of the crane, and the tradition that if she folded 1,000 cranes she would be granted her dearest wish. Her wish was for world peace. As she lay in her hospital bed she folded crane after crane, hoping her wish would come true. Unfortunately, the leukaemia was too much for her young body and at age 12 she died. Her classmates folded the remaining cranes, and she was buried with her full 1,000 cranes.

If you are wishing goodbye to a loved one, or hoping for a happy ending to a project, those thousand cranes might be a way to commemorate the attempt.

Credits :

The paper cranes are used to reinforce, substitute or even complement sender’s message. For example, in the case of Sadako, it is used to both reinforce and substitute verbal communication. Her classmates would find it more appropriate to bury an artefact to commemorate their beloved friend’s passing as compared to a verbal speech from every single friend. This is an example of how much meaning an artefact can carry.

Every culture has their own meanings for certain artefacts. For each individual even, there are always some things/objects that will have a special meaning in them.

The debate is whether one is more important than the other. Verbal or non-verbal? Do actions really speak louder than words? Or is it the other way round?

What object is special to you?

7 Deadly Sins

September 20, 2009

The different ways men and women think have sparked endless discussions for as long as we have existed. Books have been written (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray), songs have been sung (Foreign Language by Anberlin) and now movies have been made.

Sometimes, communication is not as simple as A+B=C or as standardized as all the models we have been taught. For instance, in the dating world, the psychological noise present is in the form of emotions – pride, love, hope, etc. This affects the encoding and decoding of messages. For instance, the sender will encode ambiguous messages due to pride and this will in turn, result in the wrong interpretation of messages.

Even if messages are clearly encoded, there is still potential for miscommunication. For example, in the movie “He’s just not that into you”, the girls tend to misunderstand verbal/non-verbal cues from the opposite gender for the simple fact that they have been taught to be hopeful from all the fairytales they read since young. All these are potential may cause a snow-ball effect, straining their relationships through the unresolved misunderstandings.

Human emotions may cause effective communication such as through persuasion in rally speeches or other media communications designed for a cause (The Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore). However, when other emotions (such as those mentioned above) come into play, will it disrupt communication instead?

We have been taught the different forms of noise present in communication models – physical and mental. In my opinion, there is another form of noise – emotions, which is a far greater threat than any other which has been taught.

After all, no one is devoid of emotions.

Throughout our lives we have seen hundreds of thousands of commercials, but really, how many can you recall vividly if I ask you to at this point? Not much (for me at the very least). It has nothing to do with our memory capacity whether or not we can recall information/messages within seconds. It has to do more with the way they present the product, how touching/funny/useful they are. One of the funniest commercial I have seen is the “The Cadbury Eyebrows”.

It is funny, witty and original. The concept is simple: twisting of eyebrows, simple music and two props (watch & balloon), and variations of camera angles. It is able to capture the audience’s attention and retain them for as long as the duration of the video (which many other advertisements fail to do). Why is it so special then?

The very act of twisting eyebrows tickles our logic and curiosity. It captures our attention because it is fresh, something unheard of. This alone is enough to guarantee the undivided attention of the consumers. We, as humans, are naturally curious. We would wonder if it is really possible to twist and “control” our eyebrows to such great extent and move them in any way we want to, therefore the video has logos (logical appeal) or rather, it challenges our logic. Coupled with a good dose of humor which is, essentially, pathos (emotional appeal), this video certainly made its mark in consumer’s mind.

As we all know, an element that is crucial in all communication models today is feedback. Most commercial in the form of videos is seen as a replica of the first model of communication.


Consumers are seen as passive on the receiver’s end. They are only able to decode the messages through the video, not have a simultaneous exchange of messages with the sender. This video is one of the few that managed to add that special element, feedback, through many emerging DIY Cadbury brows videos that are easily available on youtube ( One of them, is done by a reputable singer, Lily Allen.

A competition was even organized to mimic the idea of this video a month back, here in Singapore ( All these can be viewed as positive feedbacks from the consumers.

Silians, 3rd in “Do the Cadbury Eyebrow” competition.

Cadbury producers certainly delivered an effective message to the mass, which in my humble opinion is simply, “Cadbury exists”.

The video did nothing of the sort to promote the chocolate itself, as a desirable or superior product as compared to others.

In conclusion, in terms of communication, the producers did an excellent job. As for a firm producer, it may not have been as effective in promoting the sales of Cadbury chocolates. Whether or not these two variables (being aware and the act of purchasing) have a correlation, we do not have a definite answer.

On a side note, Heineken’s advertisement is both memorable and promotes the product. To equate Heineken beer with shoes, clothes, and jewellery? This is certain to evoke some reaction from women. It may even reward Heineken Company with higher market share with regards to female consumers. To the general mass, it portrays Heineken beer as an indispensable, highly valued product through the use of simile.