Avoiding the Social Media Trap

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A couple of weeks ago, I did an Instagram giveaway for one of my handmades.

So I just went through the motion of asking people to share my post on Instagram, so as to qualify for an entry in the giveaway. Coupled with the requirement of being a follower of my Instagram feeds. One of the Instagram accounts that I am connected to recently did a giveaway, so I blindly followed suit thinking it will be nice to have more followers.

Right after the giveaway winners were drawn, items mailed out to the winners. Then it dawned on me.

Why will I need more followers?

I have never planned to monetize this blog, so having more followers on my social media channels or readers to this blog don’t make a difference. In fact, from last year, I have ceased taking on product or service reviews and I have been turning down invitations for any launch or event.

So why have I stopped doing reviews or to cover activities that benefit my child or the family?

I am embarking on an effort to simplify my family life. You can say that I am depriving my child of being exposed to ‘new and fun experiences’, but I am leading the way for him to learn that joy and contentment doesn’t just come from external stimulation or experiences, but true contentment and joy comes from Who we are spending time with, and NOT What we are seeking it from.

The other reason is, I do not wish to participate in any form of activity that measures this blog or the ‘performance’ of my social media channels.

As a blogger, I think it’s all too easy to fall into this social media trap, where most look to our blogging metrics to define our self-worth in terms of what we think we have accomplished in the blogging world; though our blogging reach, social media followers, or from awards.

The recent reported spat between 2 popular lifestyle bloggers was a good example. So what does it mean to be a ‘top blogger’? If we look beyond the nice-to-haves; being paid to blog or not having to fork out money for some things. Popularity from the blog, or any form of success that we see from our pursuits, do tend to feed the ego.

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I think this quote by Henri Nouwen puts it very aptly, how our ego can be our greatest enemy;

When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable. In short, we are worthwhile because we have successes. And the more we allow our accomplishments — the results of our actions — to become the criteria of our self-esteem, the more we are going to walk on our mental and spiritual toes, never sure if we will be able to live up to the expectations which we created by our last successes. In many people’s lives, there is a nearly diabolic chain in which their anxieties grow according to their successes. This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction. – Henri Nouwen

 

I realized that as we age, we have less and less opportunities to experience the feeling of success from what we do, and social media can often give the instant gratification and re-create the feeling of success. It’s the same kind of feeling that we get from positive evaluation of good results, thank you-s from others, or having a popular blog. This immediate feedback of LIKES, Shares and hits on the blog and social media posts, not only gives a value to what we do online, but eventually who we are.

So what does it mean after saying these things?

I think metrics are good indicators of how we are performing on a certain task, in this case, blogging or interaction on social media. However, these metrics or the popularity of your blog or following can’t be the focus of your self-worth or success.

Our self-worth, is shaped by the mundane things that we do, the daily decisions that we make as a mom, wife, daughter, sister and a friend. Getting approval from others from what we write on a blog or through social media, isn’t going to provide us with a sudden revelation of self-discovery.

Self-worth is formed through the slow prodding journey that we take towards being a person of value.

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As for what this means for my blogging journey?

I will continue write about what I am able to see beyond what’s right in front of me, finding meaning and faith to this thing called life.

I will still do giveaways on this blog, on Facebook or Instagram. But the focus will be through sharing  ideas, joy and hope with others, or simply just giving away what I have hand-made or things that I like.

So even if it is just 5 or 50 people reading this blog, I am encouraged to keep on writing in this space.

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Portraits of a Singapore Mom Blogger 3

Adora 13

‘We weren’t poor but we weren’t rich, so we didn’t have any real heirlooms to speak of. But before the house got sold, we all went back and looked around (it’d been vacant for a while) and I just sat in the kitchen and cried, and picked up some old drinking glasses and plates, just to remember my grandma by.

We also found a pile of her kebayas, so one of my aunts collected them and distributed them to each of the ladies in the family. So  I have a set too. I also asked to borrow my grandma’s kerosang to use on my kebaya at my wedding. It made me feel very comforted that Mama was with me in spirit on my big day.”

‘Today, some frown at me when I’m out with my family. Because we’re an inter-racial family. I wonder if my ancestors, back in the 15th and 16th century, had to undergo the same stares because they were Chinese and Malay/Indonesian families. It’s thanks to them that we have a Peranakan community today.

Most Peranakans (Nonyas for the ladies, and Babas for the men) trace their roots to the Straits Settlements (if you weren’t paying attention in History class, that’s Penang, Malacca and Singapore for you); my own family is from Penang, though sadly, that’s about as much as I know. 

We weren’t full fledged ‘live in Joo Chiat shophouse, wear kebayas and bake kueh-kueh all the time’ kind of Peranakan family. We were more of the ‘cook a couple of Nonya dishes, like our spices, sprinkle a few Malay words in our daily speak’ kind.

But Peranakan I am, no matter how watered down, and this is my story.’

Adora 14

What is your earliest memory of your heritage? 

‘I have so many memories of my childhood, and the bulk of them are of the years I spent at my grandmother’s house in Katong. I was cared for by my grandmother, Mama, and she cooked the most amazing dishes.

Mama never had a food processor or a grinder or a blender. Everything was done by hand, the old fashioned way, with a lesung. I remember her squatting in the kitchen pounding away. Chilli, turmeric, ginger, garlic…If I close my eyes and think hard, I think I will be able to hear the sounds. 

She always wore her kebaya for big occasions, but for daily outings, she would wear her muah (the skirt that goes with the kebaya) with a self-sewn top. She made all her clothes; I remember my parents will buy her cloth every year.

I never knew I was ‘Nonya’ / ‘Peranakan’ / ‘Baba’ until much older. All I knew was that I was ‘different’. My friends didn’t seem to know what Garam Assam or Sambal Pedas were and I found that to be strange because my grandmother cooked them so often that I thought they were very common dishes. Come to think of it, I had all these spicy dishes even as a kid! The adults would eat with their fingers at dinner time, but the kids used utensils. Except if they wanted to appear grown up. 

I also found it strange that my friends referred to objects by different names that I. “Towel” to me was “tuala”. To wash one’s bum after a poo was “cebok”, armpit was “ketiak”, to get a second helping of rice was “tam bah nasi”. I wondered why we called our aunts Mak Koh/ Ko Besar and Koh-chik. It was only  in my teens that I realized they were Malay words; I always thought they were Hokkien words, because that was the main language my grandmother and I conversed in.’ 

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‘I also remembered playing cherki with her while waiting for my school bus. It’s funny because none of her children know how to play it. and I was the only grandchild out of 14 who knew. I would like to think that I was the closest one to her, because I stayed the longest with her.’

Of all the things you have learnt from your parents (in terms of tradition or culture), which do you feel was the most valuable? 

‘They were more family oriented. My parents always reminded me to respect my elders. Everyone older than us had to be greeted and invited to eat at meals (e.g, “Kong Kong jiak, Mama jiak, Dad jiak, Ma jiak) – so the youngest in the family would have a long list of people to address before actually eating!’

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What is that one thing that you intend to pass down to your children in regards to your heritage?

‘I will definitely pass down my grandmother’s kebaya to my girls. And my wedding kebayas. My husband is French-Canadian, I am Peranakan-Chinese, so the kids are um, well, a good mix of stuff. I want to be able to tell them as much of their culture as possible, so when they are asked, they wouldn’t simply say, “We are Eurasian”, but rather, would be able to elaborate on their rich backgrounds. Oh and if they want, they can have my lesung as well :)’

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***

Adora shares her light-hearted stories on everyday life as a mum of her lovely girls at her blog http://www.gingerbreadmum.com.

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The Lesung

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The Lesung, also known as the Asian version of the Mortar and Pestle. Is used for crushing and grinding spices to prepare rempah or samba belachan for Peranakan dishes. Unlike a food processor where all the spices can be thrown in and processed together, using a Lesung means that the ingredients need to be slowly lined up for pounding.

Starting from the hardest ingredient, candlenuts (buah keras), before ending off to the softest, i.e., soaked dried chillies.

‘Mama never had a food processor or a grinder or a blender. Everything was done by hand, the old fashioned way, with a lesung. I remember her squatting in the kitchen pounding away. Chilli, turmeric, ginger, garlic…’

This Singapore Mum Blogger occasionally uses the Lesung in her kitchen, and intends to pass her Lesung together with her grandmother’s kebayas to her children as heirlooms.

Who is she? Find out tomorrow from my 3rd post in my series of  ”Portraits of a Singapore Mom Blogger.”

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