Lifestyle

Being Online Is Tough: Social Media Resolutions For 2016 That Will Make It Easier

2015 has been a fascinating year on social media for Singaporeans — we caught the #GE2015 fever and had “Un-un-un-believable” stuck in our heads. There’s been some bitter episodes, but also some moments of pure genius that kept us entertained along the way. As the end of the year approaches, here are some sincere (and admittedly, somewhat idealistic) social media resolutions we think we should keep in 2016.

1. Spread kindness

This year has seen some tough times for Singaporeans, but with difficulties came an outpouring of kind acts, many of which were documented and praised through social media. During the major train breakdown in July, some Singaporeans stepped forward to offer free rides for those stranded, and these acts came to light through Facebook and Twitter.

Whatever the challenges of 2016, let’s keep up these little acts of kindness, and share the joy online.

2. Be creative in unexpected ways

Singaporeans have shown themselves to be a creative bunch on social media. Earlier this year, local Instagram user Ng Weijiang broke artistic boundaries with his ingenious use of the platform’s tiled interface to produce some stunning visual imagery.

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Image Credit: Ng Weijiang’s Instagram page

We’ve also seen young Singaporeans use social media for good, with creative projects like Humans of Singapore and Waiting for Lorry — both deeply moving and refreshingly humanistic portrayals of the people who contribute to this country. If you have a creative vision, social media might just be the platform for you to make a splash. Hopefully, 2016 will see our social media feeds filled with more creative awesomeness. 

3. Debate, but don’t mindlessly attack

Social media has often been vilified as a chaotic, uncivilised space, but the events of 2015 have proven that there is potential for people to come together to talk about issues that matter. Recently, a young Singaporean Muslim’s post on tackling the ISIS issue went viral, and started a whole chain of discussion on the nature of ISIS, and whether any religion can truly be accountable for extremists.

While it’s debatable if Sulaiman’s views are right, he does show that it is possible to articulate one’s views in a calm, measured tone.

Unfortunately, social media also gave airtime to some thoroughly misguided voices, like that of ex-Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng, who denounced a Malay-Muslim playwright for speaking out against racism. Moving on, let us resolve to promote quality debate on social media, without resorting to potshots just to get our voices heard.

4. Be wary of the fine print

The need to be discerning extends beyond just knowing the terms and conditions of the apps we use. The “most used words” app went viral on Facebook recently, reaching 16 million shares. Yet there has been recent panic over revelations that the startup behind the app, Vonvon, gained access to a ton of personal data, including users’ Facebook photos, everything they’ve ever liked, their IP addresses and information about their device.

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Image Credit: mtv.com

While Vonvon has responded that it will not sell any data, it’s hard to tell just how much of our privacy we’re giving away with the use of such apps. If you’re fine with trading your privacy for a bit fun, then all’s fair. But if you’re worried about your data being potentially sold to third parties, perhaps it’s time to start reading privacy policy statements. Let’s try harder to be guided by a critical eye in the social media apps we use in 2016. 

5. Above all, have an awesome sense of humour

Amid the highs and lows of the year, one thing that has remained constant among Singaporeans on social media is our undying sense of humour. Earlier this year, Singaporeans went viral internationally on Twitter with their #SG50shadesofgrey tweets.

And we haven’t even mentioned new apps like Dubsmash. Youtiao666, an Instagram account filled with hilarious Dubsmash videos by two Singaporean girls, has caught the attention of international publications like the Daily Mail.

Humour has been a strength for the online Singapore community in 2015, and the year in itself has been full of learning points — to be nicer, to embrace the chaos of online discourse and to be more savvy about privacy issues. But if nothing else, let’s remember to keep laughing as the new year approaches.

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