Tired of Posting on Social Media? Yeah, Me Too. So I Stopped.

Something about social media never quite sat well with me.

Is it the fads and the pretentious-ness?

Had a bowl of raw fish doused in soy sauce on brown rice and surrounded by ‘super-colourful’ shredded vegetables for lunch? So has its culture of origin, for a long time.

Colourful Food

What about that dessert made with a purplish ‘berry’ that is touted to be one of the greatest ‘superfoods’ around? Just to let you in on a little fact - the fruit of the Açaí palm is a drupe, not a berry. You’ll also get similar nutrients if you regularly consume colourful fruit and vegetables. And the reason you’re paying so much for it is due to marketing hype.

Acai Bowl

And please don’t get me started on the drink that costs as much as a meal, made with milk (which you can easily get from any supermarket) and black sugar (easy to get on a nearby island off the most populous country in the world).

Black Sugar Milk

Maybe it’s the narcissism.

Five selfies of yourself at different angles in the same spot, accompanied by a post like ‘Shrimp cocktails are my favourite appetiser.’ that has nothing to do with the picture? About as much sense as using chopsticks for picking up water.

Or perhaps it’s just the sheer volume of it all.

Over and over, the same types of mundane, senseless, boring posts surface and flood our devices. I found that I read about 10% of the ‘posts’ that come up on my Facebook timeline, maybe 15% of my Instagram feed. If even that. I’ve never seen the point of Twitter.

And yet, I keep hearing people tell me how important it is to post regularly on social media, how it has brought them leads and clients, how it is essential to maintaining an engaged audience.

And they’re not wrong. It’s true. These aren’t opinions. They do work. In some cases, very well indeed.

And yet, I couldn’t escape from this growing thought that I had - social media, at least the version of it that I saw, held vastly different values from me.

I’m not interested in putting my life on display, much less hope that others will find it even vaguely interesting. I’m quite satisfied just knowing that I’m interested in what I’m interested in.

I don’t see the need to tell everyone what I’m thinking all the time.

Validation? No, I hardly care whether others like what I say. More often than not, they don’t, because I like to look at an issue from multiple points of view while a large number of people just want to keep the narrative they have in their heads.

So I did what I thought was most logical. I stopped posting for the sake of posting.


And now, I feel free. I no longer have the nagging thought of ‘It’s been 3 days since I last posted something! Get something on the web before you are forgotten!’

I did post a couple of pictures on Instagram a few days ago (or has it been a week?) only because I felt like it. And I noticed that the engagement level of each post wasn’t very different from when I posted (more) regularly.

Which means to say that nobody particularly cares whether you’re posting or not. I’d say that’s because there are lots of posts anyway. Yours, unless you are some sort of celebrity or public figure, hardly makes a blip on others’ radar.

One thing heartened me, though.

A very few people noticed. And they, in a concerned tone, asked me about my absence. I didn’t tell them all the underlying thoughts I mentioned here, but I am grateful that they cared enough to ask.

It gave me a slightly different perspective on this whole social media thing.

My posts don’t matter to the vast majority of people. But they have managed to capture the notice of a very few.

And because I recently had an epiphany, which I’ll talk about in my next post, I’m not about to quit social media. I will, however, be posting only with a purpose, not just to satisfy the ever-hungry content machine.

Social Media Posting

Gen X? Millennial? Caught in the Middle?

Am I a Gen X or am I a Millennial?

According to Wikipedia, 

There are no precise dates for when this cohort (referring to Millennials) starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.

Being born in the early 1980s, by this definition, I could be considered an early Millennial. At the same time, I may be a late Gen X instead. Again, according to Wikipedia,

There are no precise dates for when Generation X starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s and ending birth years ranging from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

Of course, the truth is that neither group is truly defined by their age. It has always been more of a set of characteristics and behaviours.

That said, there is likely no such person who embodies every single trait (and stereotype) of either group. Humans being humans, we are mixed bags.

I wondered about this when I noticed my reluctance to adopt now-popular social media platforms when they first started out. I knew of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like almost as soon as they became available to the general public but I was never among the first to use them.

Perhaps this has nothing to do with whether I am Gen X or a Millennial and more of me being a bit of a laggard (as opposed to the early adopters).

Even today, I am apprehensive of hiring transportation from private cars, much preferring to get to my destinations by regular taxis (even if I have to book them).

At the same time, I am no slouch when it comes to technology. I have been customising, upgrading and/or fixing up my own computers since I was a teenager, I trawl the Internet for information on maximising my use of computer programs or fixing technological issues that I face (usually very successfully), and I insist on being able to customise my own technological devices - a core reason for my refusal to use a particular brand associated with the fruiting body of the Malus genus.

I recognise some stereotypical Millennial behaviours in myself, such as:

1) Researching product information on the Internet before making a purchase

2) Insisting on finding meaningful work

3) Disliking other people taking up unnecessary amounts of my time

Yet, I hardly exhibit other stereotypical Millennial behaviours, such as:

a) Viewing social media 'influencers' with large followings as celebrities

b) Embracing the Sharing Economy

c) Desiring a workplace that is social and 'fun'

It got me thinking: Aren't behaviour molded by cultures? Since the Millennials are the ones growing up with all this technology around them, is it any wonder that the behaviours forged by technology are picked up most quickly by those who are most deeply immersed in those same technologies?

With high Internet speeds, we become less patient. With mass production, we find blending in easy. With ready information anytime anywhere, we become less easily satisfied and more skeptical of what is presented before us.

The behaviours of a stereotypical Millennial, then, aren't so much to do with when the individual was born but, more likely, how readily they he/she has taken to the available technology. After all, there are 'aunties' and 'uncles' who exhibit the very same behaviours we ascribe to Millennials, and who embrace the fast-paced, high-tech lifestyle of the 'young people'.

So, am I a Gen X or a Millennial? 

I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? 


Especially For Authors: Getting Your Message Out There!

It is never enough to merely write and publish a book. The next step is to get it into the hands of others. That's where it gets tricky. Thankfully, I'm getting guidance and advice from the best in the business.

1) Design Graphics for use in social media

Whether your book is published by a mainstream publisher or you're a self-published author, it needs to be seen by other people, and there is no wider audience than on social media

Weeks to months before printing, the cover of the book has to be finalised and it should be designed to catch the eye. Thus, unless you're a designer yourself, get one to come up with a custom design for you.

Yes, sites like Canva are very useful for putting your own graphics together and I highly recommend them for your regular posts on social media. However, this isn't just any typical graphic. 

A professionally designed book cover allows you to stand out from the thousands of uninspiring book covers out there. When people see your cover, they will associate it with you and what you represent - your brand. Do you really want them to come away with a poor impression of you?

Once your book cover is finalised, use its colour scheme for graphics associated with the book (and, by extension, you as the author). These graphics may include social media banners, profile pictures, marketing materials and so on. Keeping things consistent is the key here. Again, I recommend that you get a designer to do these things for you, at least for the first run. You can do your tweaks and changes on your own later.

These graphics will make your book more visible over social media and invariably lead to increased interest in what you have written, which leads to more people reading your book. 

2) Tell Others about your book

Along with the appropriate graphics, write an introduction for your book. Tell others what it's about and what they can learn from it. Show them how this book will improve their lives / make them happier / allow them to do things they didn't know they could etc.

A side-effect of telling others about your book is that you have now publicly committed to this project. This makes you much more likely to complete it, especially since others will keep asking when they can get a copy of it.

Another useful side-effect is the attention those outside of your circle will start to pay towards you and your book. One of these people may be linked to media outlets and help you gain yet more publicity. 

With regard to publicity, look for opportunities to share what you've written about - be it through workshops, speaking engagements, media appearances and so on. While you are keeping a lookout, continue to update your captive audience via social media.

You aren't expecting every single person who hears about your book to get a copy but the more people hear about it, the more people will want one. Don't keep such a great work to yourself. Share it with others and let them benefit from your book.

3) Give Copies of your book away

What? Really?

Yes. Give them to people who helped you on your book-writing journey, to your clients (current and potential), and, of course, to your loved ones.

Run contests on social media where you give a copy away as a prize. Give one to that brave soul who first stands up to answer your question when you are giving a talk. Give extra copies to people who know others who may benefit from your book.

You are trying to get your book into as many hands as possible. Though it may seem like an expensive way to do so, giving the book away works. Very well.

Throughout my journey as an author, I was constantly reminded that book sales aren't what I should focus on. They will come and they are important in keeping authors writing (otherwise, we'll have to find other paying professions), but my main priority should be in getting my message out there.

After all, that's why I wrote the book in the first place.

Your Opinion Doesn't Matter (or Does It?)

A number of things have been hitting our headlines in the past week or so, while I've been out of Singapore.

The most intense bit of news (at least based on the frequency it seems to be appearing) would be that of the now-publicised Lee family dispute. While I have my views on the matter, I will not speculate or discuss them until more facts arise. 

It's always tempting to grab any bit of information that supports one's worldview and shoot off a quick opinion piece or blast a scathing reply on the comment sections. However, it's almost never the best thing to do. Without calmly sifting through the information, putting the pieces together or asking more questions, how can we expect to form a well-informed opinion?

Of course, this is an unavoidable consequence of our ever-connected world of social media. Everyone has an opinion and many people think that their opinion is as valid as anyone else's, so everyone else should listen to what they have to say.

This, of course, cannot be further from the truth. 

First of all, not all opinions are equal. Some opinions are more valid than others.

As an example, a doctor who has been practising medicine for 20 years is far more qualified than even, say, a highly-regarded lawyer to say whether or not Vitamin C helps us recover from a cold.

An experienced electrician would be a far better person to ask about your flickering lights than an insurance agent.

A trained chef will be able to give you better advice on how to keep your steaks moist while grilling them than an IT professional will.

Experts in a field are far more qualified than the general population when it comes to their area of expertise. As such, it stands to reason that their opinions in those areas are far more valid than ours.

Secondly, the freedom to express does not equate to a freedom from responsibility.

Yes, we are able to post what we want where we want. Some people take this to mean that they should speak or type thoughtlessly without regard for others or for their own image.

Anything you post on social media or in a public setting is now part of public domain. You cannot suddenly decide that you are no longer going to take responsibility for what you say/do there. Neither can you blame a moment of folly or a 'slip of the tongue/thumb' for your comments or writing.

If you are going to put up information or opinions, then you will have to take responsibility for them. If you can't or don't want to, then keep them to yourself.

Thirdly, we can agree to disagree.

If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary. 

Just because someone does not agree with you, it doesn't mean that you have to always convince them to agree. It's fine to question and debate. Let's not degrade a possibly fruitful discussion to name-calling and insults.

Every disagreement can be an opportunity to learn instead of a mere bone of contention. We can learn of different viewpoints as well as how different people think.

Just as we want to be heard, shouldn't we allow others to be heard as well?