Overly sensitive? Never let hyperbole sway positive thinking

Different Spin 24th January 2014

A few days ago, I came across an article about Elle magazine’s “treatment” towards Mindy Kaling’s cover. The photograph of this TV actress and writer, is one of the four covers of Elle’s February issue. If you asked me, without context, I would say I have no problems with the cover and found Mindy looking very attractive in that picture. The quandary, as netizens have identified, is that the three photographs of the other women featured on the cover, does not look like Kaling’s. While the other TV stars (Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler and Allison Williams) pictures are shot three-quarter length in full colour, Mindy Kaling’s shot is cropped in close and printed in black-and-white. Almost instantly, the images received criticism. From this, they was inference that the magazine was being racist and mean.

“Was Kaling’s shot in black-and-white, because she is a woman of color?”, “Was she cropped, because she is an average size woman (and not stick thin like most Hollywood stars)?”

These were some of the comments found online.

Kaling, was reported to have loved the cover. “It made me feel glamorous and cool,” she tweeted.

In all honesty, I did not find any problems with the images – until I started reading the forum threads and articles. I was admittedly, swayed.

This made me rethink our situation at home. Are we reading into everything and overanalyzing matters? Are we becoming a society that nitpicks and is overly sensitive?

Last week, I added on to the statistic who watched the (in)famous “Najib-Kangkung” clip. Ultimately what our Prime Minister was saying was this: “When things are bad, you (rakyat) blame us (the government). But when things are good, you don't give us credit." 

Poor bloke. Never easy being the boss.

Yes. I understand
the message he was trying to convey. However, I think we are slowly becoming a community who thrives on finding faults instead of solutions. We are flawed humans who tend to notice the black spots on that white piece of paper.

It is obvious that that particular sound bite was edited out and blown out of proportion. He meant well, unfortunately the example he took to strengthen his case was, well, as limp as a soggy kangkung.

But with all the tension of late, I like to look at it with a glass half full. At least the netizens of Malaysia were united (regardless of their beliefs) on their social media pages. Even if it was just for a day or two, our timelines were #kangkung-fied.

I am a concerned Malaysian who fears the wedge of disunity is getting deeper of late due to sensitive issues that have been making headlines (and keyboard warriors busy). Being raised in a Catholic home in Sabah and having embraced Islam a few years ago, the much talked about “Kalimah Allah” issue has struck a personal chord in me. And because I refuse to be part of a herd mentality, I have decided to be proactive in understanding this issue thoroughly. So as opposed to just reading updates via my social media page, I have started attending forums and dialogues that discusses this topic on a more comprehensive platform; listening to both sides – basically, understanding why both parties feel they are “right”.

Now going back to the #kangkung issue. I was attending one of the forums the night water spinach became the most talked about vegetable of 2014 (for now).
As I was busy updating my twitter feed about the forum, I remember chuckling at a tweet conversation between YB Nurul Izzah and YB Abdul Rahman Dahlan who candidly acknowledged the green scenario and good-naturedly, laughed it off.

I felt a glimmer of hope, even for a fleeting moment that perhaps (some) leaders ARE able to see eye-to-eye despite their differences in politics. InshaAllah.

One of the downsides of the internet is social media drama (no wonder TV ratings are going down, but that’s another article all together). I think we are becoming hyper-sensitive. In the age of smart phones and computers and our love-hate social media, there is a compulsion to capture everything on camera or video to upload to our various networks (guilty, guilty, GUILTY!) and to share, share, share.
Events can take on a dramatic life of their own and can quite often, lead to hyper reactions without readers ever getting the full, entire story. I have read about online petitions known to spring up, calling for boycotts of businesses before the real story is revealed (remember the school children eating in toilets fiasco?).

Though the Internet is a wonderful medium and offers a wealth of information, it can distort the truth by the time it gets around to you.

As writer VeronicaS says, “Words can be used to heal, unite, inspire, encourage and ignite revolutions but they also be used to hurt, marginalize, denigrate and abuse.”

Mistakes always seem larger especially when someone is keeping tab. There has been a lot of bickering of late and the rakyat is not happy. When a nation with a multi-ethnic population is confronted with an economic challenge plus unrest over religious and racial matters, one can comprehend the angst and over-analyzing that takes place.

So, are we becoming a society that nitpicks and is overly sensitive?

Yes we are. But instead of finger pointing, let’s find a way to find solutions how to work together again and be, in all essence, truly 1Malaysia again. It’s only the third week of January. We can still all begin on a clean slate.

Daphne enjoys her kangkung belacan and complements this dish with sprinkles of fried salted fish. Her hopes for 2014 is that trust between the rulers and the ruled will be strengthened to overcome the challenges posed by the rising costs of living and to ensure harmonious inter-ethnic relations. #positive floods her instagram posts.


  1. You have a blog! U write well too! Do write more, enjoy reading your stories =) Take care and Happy Chinese New Year Holidays =)

  2. Great insight Daph
    Zaid Ibrahim's In Good Faith is a good read :)


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