Yes, I have an exam tomorrow, so I’m supposed to be studying. But who says you can’t study and write at the same time, especially when it’s literature? I must stress that I’m no literary expert: just an amateur who finds literature exceedingly immersive and would like to comment on it.

Of course, with literature, there’s got to be a piece. And guess what I have? None other than the epically complex Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. (+ two dots on the ‘e’.) It was a long read for me the first time round, but the parallels and the ‘contradictions’ in the characters (etcetera etcetera) drove me on. The month preceding my read of Wuthering Heights, I had not been able to finish a single book. (Dont’ ask why.) But this was unlike any other – it really showed me how amazing literature could be.

(If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights, you should, but here’s a quick synopsis: Mr. Earnshaw goes on a trip only to return with a child he found on the streets, whom he christens Heathcliff. His children, Catherine and Hindley, dislike him at first, but then Catherine and Heathcliff grow to be close friends and fall in love, whereas Hindley becomes Heathcliff’s enemy. As the story progresses, Catherine ends up marrying Edgar Linton because she thinks marrying Heathcliff would ‘degrade’ her. Heathcliff disappears, and the rest of the story tells of the consequences of this action, and ends describing the present: the situation of the generation after Heathcliff and Catherine. Oh yes, and there’s an outsider – Mr. Lockwood – that facilitates the telling of the story.)

That was only the beginning. After discussion with my friends and after doing research, I began to see themes and characteristics that I’d never noticed before. Take the parallel between Heathcliff and Catherine’s declaration of love for one another as an example. In the earlier chapters, Catherine tells Nelly, the servant, it would ‘degrade’ her to marry Heathcliff, at which Heathcliff leaves and disappears from her life for a few years. After that, however, she declares her love for him and says, ‘Nelly, I am Heathcliff’. However, it is too late and Heathcliff has already gone. After Catherine dies in the second volume, Heathcliff declares his love for her, saying ‘Be with me always…it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’ And…oh, if you want to know more, just read some of the journals on Wuthering Heights. There are plenty that will give you insight into the different aspects of the novel. And yes, those two are Catherine Earnshaw (Charlotte Riley) and Heathcliff (Tom Hardy). It doesn’t entirely adhere to the book, but Hardy played the part of Heathcliff quite well. You can watch it on Youtube in 14 parts here.

That’s probably it for today – hope you liked it! 🙂

Surveys – do they really work?

Surveys are used by companies to collect market data, by the government to better understand its people, and even by students for school projects and the like. But how effective are surveys in assessing the true situation? Do they accurately reflect general opinion, and can we use survey statistics to draw trend conclusions?

I received a phone call today that requested I take part in a survey on reading habits. Unknowing of what was to come, I agreed on completing it. However, I soon discovered that I wasn’t telling the complete truth, and that I was getting a little irritated. You see, there were a few questions I didn’t want to answer and so told them I didn’t want to give them the answer. But, like any interviewer, they kept pushing and so I just made up an answer to satisfy their wants. And the survey was really long too at 20 minutes! Come to think of it, I think it would have been better for both parties had I just hung up on them instead.

The question here is: was it wrong for me to lie in the survey? Lying is principally wrong, yes, but under this circumstance, could it be excused? And following up on that, can we really trust opinion surveys when people may lie to cover up for themselves, or because they don’t wish to disclose personal information? And what if they are just trying to be polite?

Yes, I’m ranting.

Just something to think about next time you’re conducting a survey: please be considerate. I know you may desperately want some information from an interviewee, but if you try to push it out of them the information might very well be misleading and it won’t help you at all. Oh, and good luck – especially if you’re doing a phone survey. 🙂


On the Internet as a Communication Tool

 I feel pretty guilty about not blogging anything serious over the last few months, and so have resorted to publishing academic essays instead. 🙂 I’m really sorry about this, but exams are in less than two weeks, so fingers crossed I’ll actually work on a concrete commitment after that!

As the Internet becomes more accessible, its function as a major communication platform becomes more significant in our lives. Communication is more convenient, and it brings improvements in many aspects of our lives. Work gets done faster, and people can know more on what is going on around them. However, there are also disadvantages of having the Internet as a means of communication, as the extreme convenience will lead to communication of lower quality and a younger generation with poor communication skills.

Communicating through the Internet is so convenient, one can easily get carried away. People take advantage of this convenience and, bearing in mind that they can send another e-mail any time, do not think through the message thoroughly before sending it. Topics become more trivial and rash messages can have dire consequences. For example, people are less likely to think through an argument before responding if it’s held online, especially if they can remain anonymous and evade responsibility. They may not be afraid of immediate consequences of their actions either because they are not speaking face to face with their peers and so are not under immediate threat. This deterioration in the quality of communication may lead to unstable relationships built on trivial topics, and a lack of depth in thought in general.

The convenience of Internet communication also lessens the incentive people have to communicate face to face with others. People may not treasure time with another person as much because they can easily communicate through the Internet any time. The younger generation which is used to this type of distanced interaction will grow to become more antisociable and may have difficulties interacting with others offline. Lack of interaction with others will in turn cause deterioration of mental health as well as an increased number of hermit teens. Although the Internet is becoming increasingly important, offline communication skills are still of utmost importance. If we grow to rely too much on the Internet, these disadvantages will inevitably grow out of proportion, and the Internet will have lost much of its original value. What is important is that we use the Internet in moderation, and that we use it with care. Only then will we be able to keep the detriments to a minimum and enjoy the true benefits of using the Internet as a communication tool.