Thoughts on the quarter-century

“My peers and I come from a time of great changes, whether we realize it or not. I was born in 1987 on the day a stock market correction. I vaguely remember the first Gulf War. And then the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. The panic over the Y2K bug and anxieties about a new millennium. 9-11, the War on Terror, the dot-com bubbles and bust, SARS. More bombings. The rise of China, then BRICS then all sorts of emerging nations in elaborate acronyms. And then of course, the still-unraveling economic crises. Where our parents talked of the Soviet Union, we talk about Russia. Where Communism was real, but only theory for us. Where “tag” and “poke” meant physical things, not mouse-clicks. That we now hold in our hand computers more powerful than the ones that went to the moon. In Singapore, we once feared too many children, but now fear too few. Where we now allow casinos where once they were taboo. We now have the flourishing of the arts, where nature now does not always give way to development. These developments have led to all sorts of changes in the society, where the social and cognitive fabrics are being rewoven on very different terms. We don’t know what the new rules are, and there is no final pattern to refer to. Those graduating in recent years have had to deal with the character of disruptive change ever since university days and before. And increasingly, even more so in the years to come. Change – amplified and deepening is the norm now more so than ever before. My peers have dealt with them. The skillsets, visions and stories we have are the result of having to deal with this very essence of deep and intense change. To those surfing on the waves of these changes, disruptive change is not something “major”. Disruptive change is “meh”. We live it, embrace it, and move on to the next one, or create it. There was no manual for how to use Facebook or Twitter, or any of those platforms. There were guides, but even these guides could not be sufficient for the explosion of uses for these media. We don’t know the ultimate game that we are playing; the game we play now is the one that keeps on going, and the aim is not to let it stop. We just have to decide what game is it that we are playing in the first place.”

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