The Haze: What happened between 8.30 & 9 p.m. on 24 Sep 2015
The Haze is here and we’ve all gained new knowledge on surviving it. I mean info on which is the best mask, how to read PSI, using a wet towel with a fan etc… these weren’t stuff that our mothers taught us. Yet I learnt something else from this haze, and from the Social Media realm that we are all living in. I realised there’s a new definition to the word PATIENCE.
24 Sep (Thu) This was the day when the PSI hit the hazardous range. From the late afternoon at about 6 p.m. there were some whispers of schools being closed. Then at about 8.30 p.m, on many whatsapp chat groups, someone from some very reliable source says school will be closed the next day. Of course there were a few different someones. The messages were either copied and paste LONG text or a simple one-liner. In any case, everyone was eager to pass the message, and add a disclaimer that the official announcement would be out soon.
There were those who would just blindly copy and paste and inform the whole world. And there are some who would check MOE website, FB page etc to see if there’s any information that corroborates with this reliable source. Needless to say, there were none. For half an hour, the Singapore social media scene was abuzz with the most enthusiastic self-proclaimed reporters… parents were wondering and asking each other for confirmation, and it was really quite exciting. (Don’t ask me why, this no-school business would only give me extra hour of snooze. Yet there was a strange anticipation for a confirmation. And trust me, at that point, it wasn’t because of the very high PSI number!)
At 9 p.m., Channel News Asia broke the news. The various news agencies all posted this breaking news on their websites and social media platforms. It was confirmed.
So why were all of us so anxious to pass the message along? Why were we so upset there was nothing official from the ministry? Looking back now, I think I must have been quite mad too. It was only 8.30 p.m., even if the kids were tugged in to bed thinking there’s school tomorrow, the parents were all still awake. Was I afraid I would be left out of the information chain? That my poor kids would be the only ones locked outside the school gates? Why was there an urgency at 8.30 p.m.? What happened to patience to wait for the information?
I recall when SARS broke out and school was closed for 10 days in 2003. I was a teacher then. There were no whatsapp chats to copy and paste rumours. Not everyone had email access. So all we had was Channel News Asia. If there were any leaks from the ministry or from the press conference, the information just couldn’t travel fast enough for anyone to be anxious over. I can’t recall what we did that day. But I remember going back to school, getting all the phone numbers of the my form class. And we spent the next day just calling and calling every single home, or parent or guardian. Of course there were those who missed the message and still turned up in school. Yet, no one was frantic or upset about the dissemination of information.
Alas, in 2015, things have changed. Technology has decreased our patience levels. We want the info fast, and we want them accurate. We forget it’s ok not to be first to be informed. We need to realise that in this particular case, no lives or money will be lost if we find out even at 6 a.m. the following day.
Can you remember what happened between 8.30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on that 24 Sept evening?
You know what, we were watching a movie when the whatsapp messages came in fast and furious….in the end, I was so distracted I didn’t enjoy the movie. Should have turned off the phone completely 😛 but yeah social media has revolutionised the way information is communicated. We want it INSTANT, not just fast.
I was out of the country when the worst hit and actually only found out about the sch closures on Sat hahahahaha… talk about being slow 😛
Ai @ Sakura Haruka
I can’t agree more! Patience has gone out of the window along with civil politeness. Everyone seems to be concerned more about their own rights rather than how we can live and support another as a community.
Many of the parents at my son’s kindergarten had made their own decision not to send the kids to school the next day anyway (even without any official announcement) but for one single child. The parents took it upon themselves to make it very unpleasant for the informing teacher as well as at the school gate… so the child was allowed to go to school, albeit being the only child in the entire school that whole morning. I wonder how the little one felt all alone that day.
Oh yes…. it was quite memorable this year especially having 2 kids at home now! I remember it was hovering around the high 200s at about 7pm, and we decided to stay at home and order pizza instead. The whole house was shut down with air-conditioners and air purifiers on at full force while we busied ourselves with some TV.
By 8.30pm, my phone alerted the PSI hitting past 300 and I quickly phoned my parents and MIL to cover up because they don’t have air conditioners nor filters at home!
Gotta agree with you on the passing of info these days.. so many people are passing info without verifying whether it is true or false. Have you read the one that says that all workplace are shut down too? LOL
I heard from my husband today, “People wants answers fast through email but they want answers immediately when they realised you’ve read the whatsapp message.” What in the world? But it’s true isn’t it. Unfortunately, we cannot cater to immediate information when it comes to work. Sometimes, there will be a need to call for a meeting, to check up on answers, etc. Because of technology, every year passes a lot faster than before. I remember a year in the 80s used to be a nice, enjoyable year. Unlike now, “Huh? Christmas already? I thought I just celebrate Christmas?”
It was really crazy that day and everyone was sharing the school closure details like anything.
This is so true! I remember my phone buzzing alive at 9pm with messages from all my friends with kids in school just passing the message along…but also that my kid’s teachers emailed us at 10pm to let us all know that there was no school the following day. I didn’t see it as a lack of patience though – I was just grateful that there I am part of online communities that look out for each other.
Before the official announcement, we were making backup plans in case the school closes.. That way, we didn’t really have to wait for the news. But I must say the school updated the information pretty fast on their webpage and the teachers sms us that night too. Must have been difficult for them.
I remembered that night where facebook was filled with angsty people asking MOE why there isn’t a confirmation about school closure. I am not really affected (my kids are still in childcare), but I do notice that people’s expectation are a lot higher these days and they expected to be notified in the first instance..
Definitely, the works of social media. Whether the trigger from 1 angsty person to spread the mood/questioning, or 1 enthusiastic (blind) reporter spreading the news.
I do wish sometimes, that people can take a step back and let the authorities do the necessary clearance and protocols instead of flashing them with angry comments.