22 September 2008

A Miserable Index

There has been much in the blogosphere in Indonesia at least examining how miserable expats are in Indonesia and if expats are so miserable why don't they just go back to wherever they have come from.

This got me thinking as to whether there was come kind of miserable index that could be used to give a verifiable and measurable number for how miserable someone is.

It seems that the miserable index is based on one criteria alone, namely: if you criticize the place you are living in, then you must be miserable.

I often criticize Indonesia and the way things are done. I often criticize my home country of Australia too. I am not miserable on Indonesia and I am not miserable on Australia either. I think as a resident and as a citizen this is a right that I have. My criticisms are constructive and aimed at seeing things get better.

However, I wonder whether other people wonder when an Indonesian criticizes Indonesia whether they are doing so because they are miserable or whether they are doing it because they lack patriotism? My personal opinion is that when an Indonesian criticizes Indonesia they do so because they see something that the do not agree with and would like to see it changed for the better. Therefore, to suggest that criticizing your country is tantamount to a lack of patriotism is ludicrous.

I am not miserable! I am not going to stop criticizing the things that I see to be wrong in Indonesia because some anonymous poster (maybe using a pen name maybe not) thinks that I am unhappy.

Thus endeth today's sermon!


the writer said...

I think expats are destined to bitch about the country they're currently living in. I find it quite normal. It doesn't mean that the country they're living in is bad, or that their home country is far superior in everything else, but we tend to complain about things we don't understand, and naturally, being an expat, there are tons of things that puzzle us, day by day, just because we were not born there.

Rob Baiton said...

Writer One...

Perhaps. The interesting thing for me was that it seems that if we do then we are miserable (and if we don't then we probably do not understand).

It is also interesting that there are plenty of people who think that if expat Indonesians criticize Indonesia from abroad they are lacking in patriotism.

The arguments as far as I am concerned are wrong all round.

But what would I know ? :D

tere616 said...

Expat tend to do so not because they are miserable. They do so because people always have the tendency to do comparison, and everybody will do that.

The worst part of an expat is when they never see the good part of the country where they live, then it's miserable for me.

My anonymous told me that I have the inferiority complex syndrome because am always make the comparison with other country, lack of patriotism.

Well who cares, am with you Rob :-)

Rob Baiton said...


It is not always a comparison.

People often ask me whether I think Indonesia or Australia is better. They assume that Australia is better and cannot understand why I have chosen to live here as long as I have.

My answer is always, "You cannot compare! It is like trying to compare milk and beer. You can drink both but they will never taste the same!"

There is good and not so good (bad) in both. Yet, it is like everything else, the experience is what we make it!

Ben said...

I am with you on this one Rob.

Here's the thing:
There are a lot more people who enjoy reading your opinion than those who don't.
Unfortunately those who do are silent majority, while the grumpy ones will write and comment all over the place.
Their opinion is then interpreted as a 'mainstream' opinion. It's not.

And about being patriotic, to even label critics as unpatriotic is not only wrong, it's so 'Ge0rge Bush'...

For sure there are expats who are actually miserable, but just as the same as there are some indonesians who are miserable here too.
Just because one miserable expats wrote something, doesn't mean all expats are like that.
On the same token, just because some indonesian bloggers criticized expats for being miserable or unpatriotic, does not mean all indonesians think that.

There's a lot of love out there, mate. Your blog is ranked 560 out of 7000 or more blog in blog-indonesia.com.
What does that tell you?

Anonymous said...

I would say you have never actually suffered.....you have had a dream run. The test will be when you do find a period of (economic) hardship in your so far lucky life...... see how u react then - a timewhen its a matter of do or die!

Rob Baiton said...



I do understand all that you have said and agree whole-heartedly. The piece was really a reflection of things that I have been reading and a response to that.


I wonder if you are the same anonymous that posted on another of my blog posts?

You do really need to say who you are or adopt a pen name so that I can distinguish you from other people who choose to be anonymous.

I am guessing that you most know me personally judging by your comments. Seeing that you seem to know that I have never really suffered, that I have had a dream run, that I have never suffered economic hardship, that I have had a lucky life, and that I have never been tested.

This all seems a little unfair because I do not know who you are. Although, maybe I should interpret your comments as those of a person who has suffered, who has not had a dream run, who has never been lucky, and who has been tested in a do or die situation. Then again I would only be guessing.

You come onto my blog you criticize me for all manner of things including being lucky and having a dream run, yet you do not have the courage of your convictions to identify yourself.

Brett said...

It is worth reading the criticisms that are levelled at us expats and then cross-reference what these critics say about pretty much everything else. They are BITTER, twisted, f---ed up and generally nasty, horrible people. Hope they're fasting, coz bitch is gonna burn in hell!!! ;-)

the converted said...

Sorry to offend. I am not sure if my anonomymity has offended miost or my words. I am sorry to be so (personally) critical. That's just my way. I am interested in how someone reaches and "publishes" a viewpoint rathter than the viewpoint itself. I hope you just dont think I am stirring. I would argue that by explaining where you are coming from better you help to explain your viewpoint better. Of course this continually appendaging is impossible/not practical, so most people (your readers) come to accept that you are a reasonable sort of guy and read you that way (and you come to assume that you are a reasonable sort of guy as well). But are you/I/ we reasonable sorts of people??

Rob Baiton said...


I notice that there is an anonymous comment on the sex discrimination post is that you before you converted? If not I am certainly attracting an anonymous crowd!

Not offended, but rather bored with the idea of explaining myself to someone who is anonymous and not willing to go a few extra yards to distinguish themselves from others.

Now that you have converted I am more than happy to go the few extra yards to explain myself or the positions I adopt.

I am not adverse to personal (or for that matter professional) criticism provided it is constructive. I do not see the point in criticizing people just because you can. I am of the belief that criticism needs to be designed to elicit something better from what existed before.

Viewpoint in this case is very much personal opinions. How does one reach a personal opinion on something, experience of the subject they are talking about. This might be first hand or it might be second hand by reading an account by someone who experienced it first hand. It might even be an oral history passed down from generation to generation that at some point is written down in the form of a book.

The viewpoint I adopt in the miserable index I think is clear enough in terms of where I am coming from.

To better explain where I am coming from what do I need to do. Do I need to post my CV and salary history or do I need to post a more detailed biography of my life over the past 38 years?

See, this is the thing with being anonymous or using a pen name. You are of the opinion that better explaining where you come from will make it easier to explain the viewpoint or the opinion. I really know nothing of you so how can I really understand what your viewpoint is and why you choose to analyze my writings from such a perspective?

Yes, I think in many ways you are stirring. Stirring in the sense of you are looking for answers from me without revealing anything of yourself. It is almost like I am being vetted anonymously.

Are we reasonable sorts of people? Way too philosophical! Yet, the simple answer is, "it depends!" I think I am a reasonable sort of a person, therefore I am! Most people would consider me to be a reasonable sort of person, therefore I am! Some people might consider me to be unreasonable, so perhaps I am.

All subjective!

Rob Baiton said...


I always read what is said. It is always important to know how a part of the community is viewing your existence within their community.

I was just trying to work out the "whys" to the questions I was pondering and soliciting feedback by writing about it here.

I find it interesting, the stereotyping that is. The idea that people who do not know me assume that I am miserable about my existence.

the converted said...

I do not see the point in criticizing people just because you can. I am of the belief that criticism needs to be designed to elicit something better from what existed before. says RB

this is a fine sentiment. I dont totally sit well with it, but more importantly (for you surely) is that its not the main matter of this blog, and further I dont think that it will ever be the content of any popular blog.

I guess for curious fellows like me, I can only glean the ethics of the game of criticism by watching you and others criticize.

these are pastimes, some blog, some observe, some do both...

Rob Baiton said...


I think that there are plenty of blogs out there that are designed to rant and vent without any desire to offer up an alternative to what they criticize.

It is always good to have pastimes and hobbies, keeps the mind fresh!

Yes! Some blog, some observe, and then there are those that try and do both.