Hello, this is Wan Ching again. It's been many years since I contacted you, and some of you might have forgotten me.

Through the collective efforts of people around the world, fellow Singaporeans and I were spared the ignominy of being terminated by the Cytrons in 2042. Indeed, loads of measures, some extreme, were put in place for robots to be managed by us. I'm satisfied to report to you today that Robotics no longer poses a kernel of the threat it did to us in 2042. In this respect, we're safe, and that particular case is closed.

Barely 5 years on, we're now in the year 2047. The pressures of education did not stop me from attaining a place at the Integrated Universities of Singapore, where I'll be a freshman this year. Although we’ve moved on from the catastrophe 5 years ago, and I know I should look at the world with much more optimism than before, the amount of reflection and thinking I’ve done compels me to look in the eye the surmounting difficulties that my generation and I still have to face. Perhaps I should describe in more detail to you the lifestyle that I lead now.

I face my freshman year with much hope and trepidation at the same time. Most of my high school classmates will be attending other universities around the world; some by choice, but others by external pressures. My best friend Sherry will be heading to Canada because her father has been posted there for 5 years on job rotation. Similarly, for Gin, my childhood friend, she’ll be heading to New Zealand to join her parents who are now working there. Another of my buddies, Grenardine, will be enrolling in Beijing University. She was identified by her mentor very early on to have a special talent in Chinese translation, and was herself convinced that this would be her path in life. As for me, my parents had spent a huge fortune 3 years ago engaging a renowned mentor for me to personally guide me, develop my talents, and unlock new opportunities for me. Dr Parkinson is an expert psychologist and was able to land me several job attachments in the past 2 years due to his vast network of contacts. He wants me to have a strong foundation studying Economics here, and promises to link me up to the London School of Economics for my postgraduate studies. I trust my mentor and I do not want my parents’ investment in me and him to go to waste.

Every year, citizens debate if national pride has decreased. I, for one, find myself doubting my love for the country and my friends no longer feel this attachment anymore. It is not helped by the fact that their working parents traverse borders every few years due to the mobility of their jobs. I am a little more rooted because my father still has 4 years left on his new 10-year local contract. He might apply to be relocated to London once the contract expires to join me there when I complete my undergraduate studies. I hope this works out, but you never know with the private sector these days, which focuses so much on benefits and self-interests. Even the government wants us to take responsibility of our own lives and have ceased all kinds of handouts and welfare benefits. They make us sign contracts when we get our Identity Card at the age of 12 to remind us that we are now old enough to be legally responsible for our actions. They make us sign contracts at the age of 18 to remind us that we are now old enough to be subject to corporal punishment. And I’m told they make you sign contracts when boys enter the army to pledge their lives to the nation, when one gets married to commit oneself to procreate and build the nation’s population, and even when one is terminally ill: to donate one’s organs. Yet, they do not commit to take care of us; private enterprises have taken up virtually all welfare services under their wings, but these companies place their own interests first, still. There is no such thing as a non-profit organisation these days.

Contracts, contracts, contracts. The relationships between the self and the country, between the self and corporate entities, have reduced to that of a literal social contract.

I am glad that I still have my loving family in this increasingly corporate, individualistic and self-reliant world. Once my freshman year starts, I’ll have to find new friends again, and will only be able to meet Sherry, Gin and Grenardine in our little virtual conferences on TouchTime. On TouchTime, we can see each other, talk to each other, and even virtually touch each other (through pulse sensations), but it’s just different from being there for each other. I’ll miss them, for sure.

We’ve also signed up for a SecureFriend Cloud, where we can share data, pictures and experiences securely between us. This will be my second paid online cloud services account, the first being my family’s SecureFamily Cloud. All of us still have Facebook accounts, but nobody in the right frame of mind publishes on Facebook information that is too personal anymore. It is just too risky and our government will not regulate online media; we have to be personally responsible for our own actions. Besides, we all know that our potential employers in the future now have legal access to our education history, employment history, references from our mentors, as well as our personal life stream published on social media tools like Facebook. The Secure suite of tools such as SecureFriend and SecureFamily are one of the few paid services these days that guarantee privacy (for how long, nobody knows), and these come at a hefty price.

This is also one of the reasons why I’m determined to be self-employed in the future. In a world so concerned with self-interests, I’m no longer assured that any future employer will take care of me in the long run. Being my own boss will allow me to plan my own time, be in charge of my own work choices, have my own working hours, and build my own portfolio. I do not need to be tied down to contracts like my Dad is, and I can be self-reliant and decide my own retirement years. The only contract that I will need to sign is my promise to myself that hard work on my own can bring success. It is no surprise that in a recent survey done by a private company, 77% of Singaporeans aspire to be self-employed.

I am increasingly convinced that in my world, one can only trust oneself and one's family. I am the master of my fate. I am responsible for myself, and no one else is. And perhaps, I'm not responsible for anyone else either.