Do we really care about safety?

May 19, 2008
Little India, SingaporeImage by nimboo via Flickr

Those of you not in Singapore might not have heard of the Mas Selamat incident. Basically, Mas Selamat was allegedly the head of the Singapore branch of Jemaah Islamiah, and he escaped from the detention center a few months ago.

When the incident first happened, there was a lot of press about it. Everyone was talking about it, it was a huge concern. Someone even started a Facebook account for it, stirring questions about whether people – especially youths – were treating the issue too lightly.

The thing is, there has been no word about the issue for a while now. All the press has died down. The posters are almost completely ignored. Is the threat gone? No, because he’s still out there (as far as we know). But yet nobody seems to bother anymore.

Which leads me to wonder – is it really safety that people are worried about? Or is it a worry about the unexpected? Because if it is really about safety, there’s no reason that the worry has died down. People aren’t really worried about safety breaches. People are worried about unexpected safety breaches. When it comes to public perception, it’s not truly a matter of how serious or important the breach is. It’s how unexpected it is.

The unexpected is what really stirs people up and gets them talking. Once you’re no longer new and fresh – once you’re no longer unexpected – you’ll get ignored, no matter how important you really are.

How do you ensure you don’t become borign and get ignored? How do you stay ‘fresh’?