Instagram Superstar

Social media work for me because I am lazy as hell. There are people I know in real life that I have not seen in years and I like to keep it that way. Not a reflection on them; I am just lazy to put on going-out clothes. When we go out we also have to talk, which I sometimes don’t want to do. Used to love going out but these days I like quiet. Everything I do is quiet. Not sex. And, not eating. 🌝 But I’m not the slurping kind. I go chew-chew like a train. There’s this guy at my workplace who once ate noodles for breakfast and I could hear him slurping away enthusiastically and loudly and he is seated about 2 meters away. It was quite gross. Bleargh~ He also has that breathe-through-mouth face.

Anyway. I digress.

My best friend wants to be an Instagram superstar. I am usually supportive of her endeavours (except, if it involved drugs. I’d drop her faster than Taylor Swift dropped Selena Gomez from her ‘squad’) but I don’t really like Instagram. I’m old. I’m a Facebook-but-not-fake-news kind of person. Not everything is Instagram-worthy.

At this point, we are trying to learn everything we can about Instagram. I know some things, of course. In fact, I switched to an android device from a Blackberry 5 years ago because I wanted to be on Instagram and look at photos. Then I realised I didn’t really like having strangers randomly liking my posts so I made the account private. Then I also realised when I privatised the account with only 100+ followers there wasn’t much engagement.

So these are some things I’ve learnt about Instagram. They probably might not help you become an overnight superstar (I almost wrote supervisor), but maybe you can bear all these in mind.

Banned Hashtags on Instagram

Okay I don’t have the link to this but you can check out a couple of websites (don’t be lazy, just Google!!) that list down the banned hashtags. Banned meaning if you use these hashtags your posts might not appear on people’s feeds, subsequently decreasing your reach, and if anyone searched for that particular hashtag nothing will show up. Some banned hashtags I can remember include : #newyears #girl #woman (mostly anything to do with women or body image) #teens #girlsonly #lingerie #tgif (what the!) #snapchat (this makes sense, come on people!) anything porno or unsavoury. #eggplant #curvy (does this mean I can’t sell plus sized clothes?) So don’t use these hashtags. You also can’t use tags that aren’t related to the post, or tags for a prolonged period. It would just come across as spammy.

Using Bots would get you into Trouble

One of the things my best friend and I are working on is to increase followers and likes organically. There’s actually no reason to want to buy followers and likes. 1) We don’t have extra money lying around to justify doing this, so we are happy Instagram doesn’t allow it. 2) We really want genuine engagement. We want to know posts to which people positively respond. Don’t use bots. You might risk getting banned.

Timing is Everything

I don’t like posting anything on Saturdays. I am sure there are marketing people seated in a cubicle farm in the US that study all these things, and the insights might apply to only people in that region but Singapore Instagrammers can also follow certain guidelines. Some days are really more popular than others. Saturdays are out especially when you have a small number of followers. Wednesdays on Facebook work for me, never tried it on Instagram. So once I come up with a cough chart with details I will share the insights. Free.

Photos People Like

This is just my observation. It might not be true. I am open to debate. It might not even apply to you if you resided outside of Singapore. Mostly Singaporeans like photos of/such as:

– Food (especially nice photos of food)

– Babies or kids

– Luxury items/Socialites flaunting luxury items

– Local or regional celebrities

– Activities and events (art, sports, exercise/fitness)

– Colour (we are not Kanye West, so go easy on black/grey and start experimenting with every colour on kuler)

– Travel (doesn’t really matter where; cheap and good is fine, expensive and lux is fine too)

They mostly don’t like sales-sy photos, (true for all platforms) so if you use Instagram for business you might want to be less sales-ly. At this point I don’t know how to be less sales-sy so watch this space.

Looks can be important, but they are not everything

I say this because I had a colleague who posts really high quality photos. Everything is on fleek. She also can be categorised as beautiful. But people don’t really care enough to double tap her posts. For someone who has at least 300 followers, her likes are in the range of 1 – 10, especially with no hashtags, which is not even 10%. Likability is definitely a factor, plus she hardly likes anyone else’s posts, which is weird because this is social media. You have to be.. social.. There’s also this guy I swiped right on Tinder once and for someone who is actively involved in media he gets really lousy engagement. And I realised it’s cause he comes off as pompous. People don’t like that, you can be inspiring, yes, but you must appear to be just like us. Not too fake.

When I discover more insights I will share. Now I have to take a shower to go to my day job. 🌝

What’s Been Happening

To make a long story shorter, I’ll do this in bullet point form. We are gonna see April soon, and my last post was in January.. and a lot of things happened between then and now.

  • My mom passed away in mid-February. I considered writing a post about her but my worries were many; anything I wrote then would have been too little, or too much, and then I went through a period I didn’t want to think about it, and then I also went through a period where her death was all I thought about. There was no point writing about the memories. I am in general not a sad person, nor an extremely cheerful one.. stoic maybe, troubled maybe, but sad and/or pathetic aren’t words I’d use to describe myself. It has been quite difficult to adjust especially when many rituals are gone: an example is in the mornings before leaving the house for work, I’d be in my underwear looking for clothes to wear while having entire conversations with her. This would go on for about 40 minutes before I finally kissed her goodbye and said things like ‘I will miss you’ or we’d go back and forth with I love yous. So the first day back at work was tough. I remember just sitting there staring at my computer the whole morning trying to process. It has been getting better lately, but I still have moments where I would curl into a fetal position and just cry. These moments are unexpected and sometimes triggered by something totally random.
  • Leading up to my mom’s death I was a mess. John was very supportive, so was Su. There were a lot of moments that frustrated me. I had a relative try taking photos of my mom with tubes all over her body. I of course spoke up and told her I’d prefer if she didn’t post anything on social media. I don’t normally give a fuck what people post on Facebook, there’s always an unfollow button and no hard feelings, but this was my mother. I’d never do this to anyone’s mother or for that matter, anyone. Apparently speaking up was not a positive thing to do because the culprit (haha) did not attend my mom’s funeral. If she needed content to boost likes or engagement on her Facebook I’d gladly share ideas. I also didn’t care if she didn’t attend the funeral. I would however prefer if my mom dying weren’t the subject of someone’s Facebook post.
  • I also had people who tried to demonstrate they understood my culture, but there is a difference between cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity. I don’t really care if you know certain things about my culture, because half the time I don’t even know about them.. or practise.
  • A colleague of mine lent me two books to read. They’re on business and motivation. I have really short attention span these days, and getting motivated is the least of my concerns, so maybe I should have mentioned it’d be a while before the books made their way back to his hands. Reading diet really unhealthy these days, so I try to compensate by reading articles on the www.
  • Told John a while ago about how-to books that I read. Usually I know the ‘what’ of things. Books usually explain the ‘what’ clearly. But most fail at the ‘how’, which is quite funny (crinkle nose) because that’s kinda the whole point I bought the books in the first place.
  • My brother and I are working on writing a book together as a tribute to our mom. Lately I’ve been busy at work, so this is the weekend leading up to Easter so I have an extra off day and plenty of time to work out the first steps to actually writing the book, but all I’ve done so far is eat. I have a book on my lap now but I am not sure if I’d doze off in a couple of minutes. 🌝

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, whoever you are. ❤️

Sydney.. is the place to be

I have not been blogging for more than four months because I was going through a tough time in life. Yesterday was Sunday, and although I really wanted to stay in bed all day, I forced myself to: clean out my bookshelf, throw some things out from the fridge, take a walk around the neighbourhood, go to the supermarket, knead some dough, let it rest, do laundry, and make dinner.

I thought all these activities would tire me out, but oh how naive, it didn’t ‘cure’ my anxiety or insomnia one bit, and I groaned when I awoke an hour after I ‘successfully’ fell asleep. I need to see the doctor.

Some acquaintances have been telling me oh you need therapy, oh you need to relax, oh you need to stop smoking so you can buy a nice car, oh this and that. Let’s just say this: I didn’t choose to have trouble sleeping, I didn’t sit down, pore over my choices, and then decide HEY LET ME BE THIS SAD AND ANXIOUS! IT’S PROBABLY FUN!

Anyway.

I went to Sydney. I had never been to Australia before this trip because I never had any reason or interest to visit. I was also aware I probably would not enjoy something village-y after Yogyakarta, which I will write about soon, and I really wanted to relax. I flew to Sydney in the wee hours of the Friday morning before Christmas, reached slightly after lunch (still Friday). Immigration was a bit slow. It was officially summer already, but because of how and where Sydney is located, it got pretty cold in the evening. I had a moto jacket for flights but never thought to bring anything else jacket-y or warm.

A lot of Singaporeans like to mention that Australia is racist. I never travelled much but have to say never been discriminated against except one time in Shanghai some guy on a bicycle spat at me and Mimi. It was a racist spit because he half-yelled ‘MALAYSIA!’ before spitting. Should have whipped my passport out!

I (thankfully) did not experience discrimination in Sydney. Maybe because the place I stayed (Bankstown) had a lot of Vietnamese restaurants and other Asian types around😊

I am on mobile so don’t know if the formatting would be weird. Here are some pictures:

Price-wise for food, Sydney can be a bit expensive compared to Singapore. The portion is of course larger than Singapore’s, and I had Greek food the first night I was there. Loved the Haloumi cheese sticks, not so much the chips (fries), but LOVED the calamari souvlaki and lamb wrap. It was a bit too much for me, though.

I also wanted my fair share of touristy things, possibly because I knew people were gonna ask, ‘Did you see this and that?’ When I came back to Singapore I thought about it and realised I didn’t give a rat’s ass. If I didn’t go, I didn’t go! Nobody should care, because I certainly don’t.

So I went to:

1) Take a ferry to Darling Harbour

2) Take a ferry to Watsons Bay

3) Visit Featherdale Wildlife Park

4) Visit Blue Mountains

5) Buy sashimi at Sydney Fish Market

The rest of the things I did were not exactly touristy.

I went to Newtown to look at Gould’s Books (store). One thing I love about Sydney is the signs are hilarious! You would never see such things in Singapore because we are mostly business-like. For example:

I just thought it was funny. I can imagine people in Singapore going ‘Why must say it is for humans? Isn’t that implied?

And this one:

And Kiss and Ride. Google it. I had to turn around and take a photo because all these things amused me.

Also, I saw a lot of graffiti. The Singaporean in me was a bit ‘hmmm’ but I got used to it. And I was fascinated by the power lines and the massive space in Sydney.

Pictures of the ferry rides:

The Sydney Opera House is actually beige/something not white. I always thought it was white.

Went to the wildlife park en route to Blue Mountains. We saw all kinds of birds (pelicans, ibises, cassowary) wallabies, wallaroos, kangaroos, dingoes, koalas, wombats. For 2 dollars a cup you can feed the marsupials. Not the koalas who were mostly asleep.

I will continue later. Now I need to quickly go home and study for an exam I’m taking soon.

Why I Don’t Like Hanging Out with People Now

I have to go get ready in just a bit so I thought I’d blog something before scooting off. Barely five minutes ago I was on the crapper and my mind wandered to a thought of this person I used to know and talk to all the time and she had since moved to Europe.

I grew up in a Malay household (I have to add ‘very Muslim’; I went for religious classes almost every day: 3 or 4 days were for Quran recitation and 1 was for learning the Islamic principles). I wouldn’t say I was or am religious but my parents made me go for all those classes. I enjoyed them.

I went to a local primary school, which had about 50 other Malay kids in my grade, and I was friends with maybe 3 girls. One of the girls’ parents and I still bump into one another from time to time, and we always exchange pleasantries and news. The rest of the Malay students I never really cared for and I could safely say they saw me as ‘weird’ or ‘quirky’.

Somewhere around May 2013, the Malay classmates from primary school had a reunion of sorts
(but it wasn’t a single event), and being naturally curious I turned up to all those gatherings. They had like 3 or 4 of those. I attended all.

I am sometimes easygoing. Easygoing meaning I don’t rant about work (which I think about, and am at, all the time) and I don’t think about whether I would be uncomfortable being seen hanging out with particular people (uneducated, Malay speaking, crass jokes sorta people).

Anyway to cut an unimportant story shorter, through my interactions with them I didn’t feel at ease because everyone was always talking about another person/other people behind their backs. We had a WhatsApp chat group with thousands of texts going back and forth each day. I can’t remember the topics because I would participate only when I was available, and sometimes I could not really follow. And I’m a smart person if I could say so myself.

Some of the things I didn’t like about people:

The One-Upper

That sort of person who would one-up anyone. If you had to care for a sick cat, they had 2 sick cats plus an old hamster somewhere to care for. If you broke up with your boyfriend and were feeling a bit upset, you’d never understand the one time they were a passenger in their boyfriend’s car around Singapore, got kicked out of the vehicle, got dumped, and then ended up in jail the entire weekend. You have $20,000 debt, they have $50,000 debt. Their stories might not  necessarily be true or even realistic, but trust them, they have had it worse.

The Screen-Shotters

I do this a lot with my friends. I see something I don’t like, or find hilarious and take a screenshot and then send to a friend and then we laugh at how mean we are. However, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a screenshot of what someone else has said about someone and then purposely sent it to the let’s say.. a victim.. (the person being talked about). It happened a lot and there were times I reacted negatively, and got all gangsta and “call me call me i’ll show you something to talk and screenshot about!!”. I have moved past this stage I don’t generally care about these things anymore and I refuse to join any group chats. Unless they’re about exercise or we’re related by blood.

Appearing Interesting or Successful

I have a friend who is currently experiencing some form of quarter-life crisis, and he is experiencing it in his early 30s. I experienced this crisis around the time I turned 19, and from ages 19 to 24 I went back and forth thinking about offing myself. These kinds of reunions aren’t good for certain people, because we blossom at different stages in life. In 2013 I was gonna turn 26, and I had not achieved any success in my professional nor personal life. I had nothing to show those people I went to school with 20 years ago. Because I am generally a straightforward person I didn’t really bother putting up appearances. If we were gonna walk to the coffee shop for Indian I would be in my jammies and tousled hair. I’d wear shorts to smoke with them. I generally didn’t talk about money. And then the people who kept up appearances ended up looking like frauds because people are mean. They will pull you off layer by layer and see you for who you are. Not because they care and want to know or understand your core, but because they have nothing better to do with their time, so they will mess with your life.

It was exhausting. But this is the Malay life.

I got sick of the whole charade, got out of the group chat, went back in a few days, got back out, deleted some people, and moved on by being wise about selecting who I would want to associate with. The Malayness of it all creeped me out, but I learnt some important lessons and chief of those is to not hang out with people I don’t like. Hehehe.

OK vamos baby I have to go.

Pearls of Wisdom (Kata-Kata Mutiara)

Even though I may come across as an idiot at times, there are other times I give sage advice to my friends. Times I call ‘Moments of Epiphany’ and ‘Non-idiot’.

Recently, a person I would call a friend was facing challenges at work. One of the chief complaints was the fact that his superior at work completely messed up his work review and bluntly admitted that the review was not submitted to Human Resources on time. The review was critical in determining his merit increment.

I hold the opinion that three things wentwrong here:

1) Superior did not submit documents by stipulated timeframe (this itself was whatthefuck)

2) Human Resources did not follow up with superior in question (another what the fuck)

3) My friend waited too long to raise the issue (a minor what the fuck)

I encouraged my friend to ask his superior first before moving on to talk to Human Resources. Give the superior an opportunity to right the wrong. After a few weeks of evading my friend’s questions, on top of the four months since the review, the superior finally submitted.

As a result my friend was disappointed. His mood changed. He started to question himself, his professional capability, and his self-worth. He felt angry. He felt cheated on.

“But I did everything he asked me to,” he said, with a mix of sadness and anger.

“Even if you were vegetarian that doesn’t mean you would not be mauled/murdered by a bull,” I coolly replied while wincing.

“Are we doing quotes of the day?”

“Just saying”

He then became unmotivated at work. He did not want to lunch with anyone, and wanted to use his lunch time to lick wounds. He would leave his desk the moment the clock struck 6pm.

Occasionally I check in with him out of concern.

“Still eating by yourself?”

“I need me time,” he texted back.

“Okay. You know what they say. In the company of other people, take care of your tongue. When you are by yourself, take care of your thoughts”

“Are we still doing QOTDs?” he replied with an emoji.

“Just concerned”

I have been working since I was 19. My first supervisor at work was an asshole, and I was too inexperienced then to come out of a bad situation unscathed. I still remember I always wished he would die on the way to work. He is still alive. But the world would not miss him. :p

I just hope with encouragement from his loved ones, my friend would rise above this bad work situation and come out stronger, more professional, and wise.

Things I Hear (and see) At Work

I have worked in the education sector for close to six years now. When I was 19, I worked in the government sector. I was fired three years after that.

I did something else for close to ten months and then I got a job in a polytechnic. Gig lasted almost 3 years, and then I worked in another school for 6 months. The second gig was not fun. Then I was jobless for another 6 months, and then I got a job at my current workplace. Love it. Stressful? Sometimes. Fun? Yes.

Shit I Heard/See

There are many schools in Singapore. I work in post-secondary schools so you would think people would be clever-er. They are not! (spoiler alert)

  • The One With JPEG

In one of my gigs my job was to ensure that course notes were printed and delivered on time. There was a short course on how to fix the a/c and this old guy (the instructor) came to give me his notes. Around 200 pages of JPEG images. He saved his ENTIRE course notes in jpeg format. Who. The. Fuck. Does. That?! My computer would not allow me to print in sequence with a click of a button so I had to sit there for at least 30 minutes to print all. This was worse than the time I chastised someone for printing ONE PPT SLIDE per page. 297 pages. What a waste of paper! You need almost 150 sheets of paper!

  • The One With Competitors

I had a colleague with three school-going children. She was very Malay, and when I say this I don't mean the good Malay. I mean the kind of Malay you are glad you see only sometimes. I was telling her over breakfast that my brother went to NTU, but he went to an art school before that and her face drew a blank. "NAFA?" I said. "Private art school," I explained. I mean come on. LASALLE was and still is probably the most popular, and then you have the Chinese school NAFA! How could you not know when you work in that sector? My mom of course knows. She paid for it! Anyway makcik bodoh la.

  • The One Without The Slide

I had this superior once who was quite annoying. I don't know whether it was age, or it's just him, but he invited an agency over to do business with us. I was not invited to this particular meeting but at the last minute he made me attend. So agency gave the briefing for the school (my workplace) to take over this portion, and I sat through the meeting in my pjyama pants and flip flops. Deputy Director was ready to say yes. So I said "Where are your slides on the numbers?" "Oh we didn't prepare that" Me: "Well I need to see them. I need to know how much money I can expect to make a year" "Oh. Okay. We don't have that slide" "Why not make that slide and come back and present it? So I can see whether it makes sense?" "Oh okay"

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!

This was the same boss who said my bringing in the business would be parked under Business Development. I signed a company for SGD 20,000 per course for 8 students and they were doing it four times and I did the business over email… no phone calls.. no handshake necessary, just three-liner emails and quick fire response.

I still hate that boss. He is a nice person but at work he was rubbish.

  • The One With The Barking

I'd like to think I am a reasonable person. I do not get upset when I receive emails from angry students or mothers, and what I do is defuse the situation. I usually do this with emotion out of the way. Then after work I'd just bitch about it to my loved ones.

One time a student wrote in CAPS: "[My name] DO YOU WANT ME TO BARK LIKE A DOG! (plus expletives) So customer service sent the email to me and cc-ed my AVP and SVP to deal with it.

I didn't respond to the student directly but shot customer service, my AVP, the SVP, and my supervisor an email about 1) getting Planning (the fellas in charge of timetables) to explain the frequent change in schedules (which was the crux of the issue) and 2) coming forward to support staff (i.e. me) when they face abuse from students. Everyone scrambled to apologise to me and made Planning deal with student. I no longer received any emails from customer service.

I also have terrible stories about front desk and customer service in general but I am tired now I want to watch Bojack.

Things That Make Me Miss New York

I Netflix a lot for someone who is busy. Currently I watch Shooter. I don't think it has an excellent rating but I like shows with guns.

Other shows I like include: The Blacklist, Suits, Elementary (the first three seasons), The Good Wife, comedy specials such as Trevor Noah's Afraid of the Dark, John Mulaney The Comeback Kid (I also enjoyed New In Town), Sarah Silverman's A Speck of Dust.

I watched BoJack Horseman earlier this week and I saw:

See painting behind the female character (Diane Nyugen). Isn't that… a.. Matisse?

Shown in Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

And then a couple of months ago I watched The Blacklist.

Tom Keen in a laundromat. The same one I went to the Sunday I flew back to Singapore. I spent almost 2 hours doing laundry because I didn't want my mom to have to wash 10 days worth of clothes.

I miss New York! 😦