Alvin Wang did nothing wrong, as the truth is economical and he shouldn’t settle for second best.
By Belmont Lay
The question everyone seems to have an opinion about on this fine and glorious Monday morning: Did Alvin Wang, the guy who wanted to appeal into NUS Computer Science using his funky website, willfully misrepresent himself?
Basically, as the story goes, Alvin didn’t get rejected by NUS. He REJECTED NUS.
Because he got into a course that he did not want.
So, he is appealing to get into the course he wants.
Understood, so far?
Lesson #1: The truth is economical
Well, if we were seated in the court of law and Alvin was testifying against perjury, then yes. He would have made a mess.
But this case involves the court of public opinion and a freaking website on the Internet, where he has to reach out to as many people as possible but the problem is that everyone online has the attention span of a three-year-old.
Because if Alvin willfully misrepresented himself, then the entire advertising industry is a lie. (In fact, all women have cellulite and the only way to get rid of it is to amputate both limbs. True story.)
If you had two seconds to get someone’s attention to a cause, what would you do? Or, in other words, what would Jesus do?
Write a thesis? Fill your call-to-action statement with a lot of commas, hyphens and open and closed inverted commas fitted with sub-statements using the passive voice?
You would, of course, come up with something that would zap straight into people’s brain and shake it up!
You and me, and everyone in this world with a CV is a walking billboard of deceit. We advertise our finer points to our employers. Period. The end.
We very frequently fail to tell people our shortcomings. Like how you tend to oversleep or get too tired after lunch to function reasonably without being an annoyance to everyone in the office.
You cut to the chase, get straight to the point and make yourself stand out.
What’s wrong with that?
Putting things in perspective
And an adjacent finer point: If you feel indignant enough to pick on Alvin’s ass, I do hope you remember the DBS High-Notes 5 debacle from 2008.
Because I don’t remember you jumping up and down feeling as indignant back then when banks were being economical with their risk assessment of structured “investment” products and having some fun with money belonging to retirees.
If you’re jumping up and down about Alvin’s motives now, you ought to be jumping higher then. Because that shit was simply more real and it affected people MORE NEGATIVELY.
Or to quote a lady whose savings was in jeopardy: ‘We felt swindled. We were told this was a low-risk investment,’ she said.
Look, collective indignation isn’t a fixed commodity.
But it should be used sparingly.
And to critics who say that Alvin wasted a lot of people’s time:
Lesson #2: Why settle for second best?
The next point is fairly straightforward.
Why do Singaporeans feel a need to settle for second best?
The mantra as of today is: “Can get into university but cannot get into a course of your dreams? Take it anyway!”
This line of thinking is a malaise that is eating us at the core.
Look around you. Tell me you don’t see it?
“Oh we cannot have a First World Parliament? Let’s just settle for a PAP majority then!”
“Oh MRT is broken? Let’s buy a car… and drive straight into an Orchard Road flood as water gets up to here whenever it pours!”
If Adam Smith’s baker were to work on the logic that people don’t mind settling for less, then bread would really taste like shit.
There is simply just no motivation to be good, let alone BETTER, at being a bread-maker, computer programmer, artist and yes, even a banker or policymaker.
And don’t tell me that you can face your current wife/ girlfriend and say that the reason you are together with her now is because you got spurned by a hotter girl? She is, in essence, second best?
If that’s the case, you really deserve to be slapped.
If that isn’t, then you intuitively know what I mean when I say you don’t just settle for second best.
You work hard and long to get what you want. (Always remember: What constitutes as “best” is subjective. Everyone places their own value as to what’s “best” FOR THEMSELVES.)
And by working long and hard to get what you want, you become a better person who will benefit other people.
This is what makes people awesome and what makes society even more awesome.
Check out what I mean when I say you should not settle for second best: