I’ll begin by first apologizing for what you are about to read, more for my disjointed thoughts than anything else. (ADMIN: Oh yes, this one not related at all with Terato tech operation. But we do love animals)
If you are Malaysian, I believe you should be quite aware of the toy poodle issue.
It all started when a woman picked up this thumbdrive at a local shopping mall, and found this video of a man forcing this toy poodle to stand on its 2 legs – a feat that was quite hard for the poodle, and led to it being abused in the video. (edit: some of my friends ask why the person chose to keep quiet. Interesting question XD)
The outcome – nationwide outrage, especially from animal lovers. Now, that’s not a bad thing, really. It’s not very often you get to see Malaysians standing up for something like this, and a single video on Facebook was enough to unite so many people under one common cause.
I was one of many followers of the case ever since the video first surfaced on FB, and I find the most interesting bit about the whole issue would be what some consider as ‘the peripherals’ of the issue. The ones that remain hidden in between many lines of text.
2 articles led to me writing this. Dawn Jeremiah’s article made me understand the issue more from an animal lover’s POV but this article here truly resonated with some thoughts of mine that has been around for quite some time, and reawakened them.
I come from a generation of people where going online means not using your real name, not disclosing your personal details online (where people can use them against you) and we are not so comfortable with online transactions, even though we use them quite a lot. So yes, we are the the very people you see on FB with either almost nothing on it, or info so ridiculous we totally redefine “poisoning the well.”
It’s interesting to note how a dog can move people into collective action and civil engagement, something Robert D. Putnam of Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital might be interested in. Some points the essay highlighted was about how there is a decline in civil engagement in America and I feel from my personal observation, it might very well be the case for Malaysia as well.
And this is why I was interested in the whole issue. I even joined a few fan pages to see what people do in regards to this case. And I am horrified.
To summarize what is usually posted on the pages:
– threats of violence against the man in the video and/or his girlfriend (the one recording the video)
– inefficiency of the Government in acting to this case
– more threats of violence
You get the idea.
Since most of the text were in Chinese, Google Translate and the occasional ‘friend who happens to be online’ had to translate for me but I assure you most of the text was very unpleasant to read.
Quoted from Dawn Jeremiah’s article:
“Authentic or not, this is as far as laymen can go. What else is there to do, take matters into our own hands?”
It’s true. This is as far as laymen can go, legally. Ironically, many of them did bring the matter into their own hands. There were quite a few profiles posted on the pages, and I can see the group members posting hate messages to the people who was alleged to be in the video. Cyber-bullying is the new online evil, and access to online info just makes it easier to vilify a person.
Fun, 29, claims he was actively gathering information about the case but then someone created a fake account of the alleged abuser and put his picture on the profile.
Without checking the facts, people started bombarding him with unsavoury comments although he looks nothing like the abuser, Fun says.
And to add insult to injury,
He is no longer receiving any abusive messages but he notes wryly that not even one person has apologised for abusing him earlier.
As an observer of the case from the start, he says, he has seen how the story has been twisted so many times.
Isn’t it scary what people can do, or threaten to do while masked behind the anonymity of the Internet?
It is perplexing that the very same people who often try to show that they actively believe in fighting for a cause, are also the ones who usually join a Facebook fan/cause page and do absolutely nothing about it. It is unfair to expect everyone to go all out or anything but I still find it disturbing.
Civil engagement because of Sushi the dog, while commendable, still shows that many Malaysians have not really embraced the many benefits online social platforms can offer, and even when they do, they are not yet ready to engage the platforms in a civil and orderly manner as is evident on many political websites – it’s always a case of us against them, with proponents of opposing thoughts labeled mercilessly as dogs (or any other personal insult(s) to discredit any points, if any lah, brought up).
What could be used as a platform to better reach the masses remain just an unused platform, much like the many offline platforms already provided. The true power of what could have been remains a ‘what could have been’.
It’s almost like we’re encouraging a certain type of dogs – the ones that bark, but never bite.