I just submitted the application to Hofstra for a Masters in Accounting, and continued doing what I do best – scrolling through my FB newsfeed and reading up on the articles I missed. Growing up in a background that values a lot of hard work with a significant emphasis on education, I’ve always felt guilty doing “useless” mindless things like playing with my dolls, drawing, craftwork, and watching TV. That was still the era when smart technology hadn’t been invented.
I remember when my dad installed the first computer in our tiny rented apartment above a hawker center at Bedok, I never had any interest in it until one day when I saw him playing games on it. His excuse was that it helped him learn English. Maybe it did, but it for sure wasn’t the most effective way. I would slyly watch him from the side, and took mental notes on how he turned on the computer and operated the keys. My mom was still working odd jobs back then, because there wasn’t much you could do as a foreigner. One afternoon, she left for work and instructed me to study hard at home. I was probably around 8 years old, and being the good kid that I was, I had already finished my school work. So what I had left were the extra assignments that my mom listed for me to practice. Immediately after she left, I rushed over the the computer. I had contemplated on using the computer for a long time before that day, but never had the guts to do so. Just as I turned on the computer and opened that snake/ worm game (that ate little bits & grew & your objective was to grow as long as possible without tangling/ killing yourself – remember those games?), my mom returned because she forgot something. I was so dumbfounded to be caught in the act, and ashamed that I defied my mom’s instructions. To my surprise, my mom didn’t blow up at me, she just scolded me and shut off the computer before leaving again. Guess what I did? Yes. I thought there was no way she would return again, so I switched on the computer. Guess what happened? MY MOM CAME BACK. And worse, she bought a cup of bubble tea for me to drink. Because our family had financial constraints and was very thrifty, we never indulged ourselves much except for special occasions, so a bubble tea for me at 8 years old was an amazing treat. I couldn’t tell you how GUILTY I felt back then, like I totally failed in life. So I backed away from the computer in silence, and stared at the bubble tea. My mom was probably feeling kind of bad for me at that time, so she didn’t chid me. She might have also seen the funny side of the situation, because you could tell that I wanted to taste that drink so badly, but didn’t dare to make a sound because I was being a naughty lil kid. In the end she said: “try this”, and I happily obliged.
Throughout my teenage years, I have had many experiences hiding my “pleasure” time away, like shielding my phone with textbook covers, but I tried to be a good student above all. These days, the invention of World Wide Web opened up the functional & entertainment side of technology to include a wealth of information. Maybe now, my excuse for spending way too much time online could be – it’s for educational purposes.