Imagined or not

Anderson’s Imagined Community describes a nation to be a socially constructed community, where a new community identity is constructed when people perceive themselves as part of a particular group.

Anderson, B. Imagined Comunities, Verson 2006
Book: Anderson, B. R. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

So what part of a nation then is imagined?

Maybe how most of us may not know Schooling on a personal level, yet we were cheering for him during that breath-taking 100m fly final. Because despite our varying ethnicities, religions and beliefs, that historic moment brought us together as a nation. The role of the media, both traditional and social, is crucial here.

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Image showcasing basic information about Joseph Isaac Schooling

Social media not only serves as a tool for building online imagined communities, but also as a platform for us to reinforce existing imagined communities – the concept of a nation. We observed that various social media such as Snapchat and Twitter helped to foster stronger perceptions of national unity and commonality. Moreover, the use of hashtags and news feeds have helped community members generate shared conversations and interests.

SINGAPORE - AUGUST 18: Singaporean swimmer, Joseph Schooling (R) gives the thumbs up as he arrives at his neighbourhood in Marine Terrace during his victory parade on August 18, 2016 in Singapore. Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal when he won the 100m Butterfly final, beating Michael Phelps of the United States in that race at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
Image 1: Schooling touring around Singapore after his victory win
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Image 2: The twitter screenshot taken above shows the number of snapchats taken within minutes after Schooling won a Gold for Singapore in the 100m butterfly in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
We will explain it using the three key components of an imagined community:
  1.     Common Language
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Image 6: Snapshot of tweets about Joseph Schooling
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Several unique hashtags were trending after Schooling’s Gold win such as #SchoolingWinsGold and #OneTeamSG

  1.     Temporality

Affordances of social media enabled us to witness the Schooling’s victory and his parade together as a nation, such as through Facebook live videos and real-time feed updates.

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  1.     High Centers

Social media has made high centers in Singapore more prevalent. Immediately after Schooling’s win, posts by media organisations such as Channel NewsAsia, and public figures like Prime Minister Lee garnered thousands of likes and shares.

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So don’t feel surprised the next time your heart swells up with pride watching fellow Singaporeans achieving their dreams and pushing boundaries. Get ready to wave that flag high. Our community may be imagined, but our communion is real.


(284 words)


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