2020 was shit. Well, actually not…

If I look it in perspective:

  • Office was moved. Lots of knowledge/experience gained from setup.
  • Company’s domain was finally transferred after a 2 year delay.
  • Sold my flat in Singapore
  • I broke my previous 5km record.
  • Went to Stavanger, climbed Prekestolen
  • Saw Kvelertak.
  • Came out as a non-religious person to my immediate family.
  • Got a Nokia 🙂
  • Saw a porcupine up close.
  • Moved khoreograffiti to a new hosting provider. Hosting via Arch Linux now with docker. whee… 😎
  • Celebrated 22 years with my soulmate. Never been better 🙂
  • Last but not least, I got a slight increment.

And also, I booked a naturist holiday, but had to abort it due of covid. And I only got my full refunds from flights and all 9 months later.

If 2020 wasn’t shit because of covid, things might have turned out a bit differently.

I might have gone back to Singapore for a visit. Stuff like selling my flat and organising my finances might have been less stressful. But that will not expose the highly inflexible and inefficient way a certain bank is doing things.

Maybe I might not have came out as a humanist/agnostic to my parents as the opportunity wasn’t there to present itself. Remote correspondence does make you more bold in some ways you’ll never do so when you are face to face. Either that or the tendency to interrupt (my dad loves to do that a lot) is much less.

I miss talking to folks and friends, although I have resigned to the fact that they will never empathise where I’m coming from. I might have left meetings that I would have attended in a sour/low taste. Sometimes, you need disappointments in life to understand that the path you took is the right one.

There is a lot of What-Ifs. But to be honest, I want to progress. There are so many areas in my life that I would still want to improve – I don’t want to be another person that strangles my dreams because I’m ageing. Fuck age. It’s really all in the mind. And the pressure is really strong in some quarters.

My Norwegian has gotten better, though not as fluid as I would like it to be yet. I want to try the 10 km next in my runs. Technically, I want to steer the company to greater heights and to work better with colleagues. And something to look forward to, I hope to get a new home. And also, hopefully a graduation from a permanent resident to a citizen – the journey to that has just begun, it’ll probably take more than 2021 to realise.

These are the aims that I have for now, small aims, but I rather have them deliverable than to plan to do a lot, but never even touching close.

Hopefully, 2021 will be better than the year before for me and for everyone.


I was recently asked a question privately:

how did you manage to discover what you enjoy doing?

It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve probably didn’t notice until people pointed out to me. So I’ll attempt to answer this, but before that a bit of background.

Well, when I was younger, I like making things. Like model planes, ships etc… I find that I like the satisfaction of doing something just for myself. It’s my own pride, my own joy. This basic concept fanned out to work. I like programming for the sake of making things. But then I discovered that what people like may not be in line with what you like. Sometimes, you have to just grudgingly agree to put feature Y in the software, or to just agree to use this method, because someone else wants it.

Fast track to a few years later. You think that the most efficient way is the best way but somehow people prefer inefficiency than efficiency at the loss of familiarity. It reached a point where I don’t enjoy coding any more because it does not feels like it belonged to me, but rather to folks who don’t know what they want, don’t know how they want it, and don’t appreciate the effort that is put in to increase their productivity but yet want to put their stamp in something they did not create.

That’s where I switched to systems administration. In system administration, the main customer are the machines. How the machines talk to the folks was out of my scope, but how the machines talk to each other fell on my scope. Unfortunately, there are still folks that think that machines should talk the way they think they should talk, there was so little why, but there was so much “just do it because I say so”. So while the job is satisfactory, dealing with people was not. Each person has their own view of how they carry out a job. Not many share the fact that I live to work rather than work to live. And for those who do, they are just aimless, the direction is dependant on one’s mood and all.

So I discovered that if I could minus folks from my job, or if people respect my boundaries, and let me carry out my work. I will enjoy what I’m doing. Actually, I do. I like making things. but really, what I really like is when the things I make serves a good purpose rather than be diluted or sidelined because of politics, ego or just aimless leadership. It’s really nice to be recognised, not necessarily appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I like working with people. But unless you are working with folks that share your interest, there is no way that you can really enjoy what you are doing.

Same with music, I like making music, but because people that I make music with seems to think that music should come with an agenda. Or just to fit their own style but it does not evolve naturally. I don’t know. It kills the joy of music when you always have your contributions rejected because it’s too avantgarde, too not-them, too weird. It’s hard to find people to play in a band that share the same beliefs and direction. Same with companies, same with careers. I actually gave music up so that I can concentrate on my job. I still like playing music, and would not rule out a chance to return if I can, but only if I can find the right fit and mix. Until then, I’m just a system administrator.

So after working for a long time, I would like to think that I had finally reached a point of my career that I could be proud of.  It is definitely not perfect, neither is it the most well paid job, but it’s the most fulfilling role I’ve played so far. That’s because in my current job, I run my own shop, I am my own boss, and I’m my own employee in my department (yeah, I have helpers, but in the end, I’m overall responsible).

So it goes with sports as well. Running, skiing are both sports that I can compete against myself. I realise I like things when I have control over them and when the real person I’m competing and answerable to with is myself and no other. For once, I did not run or do anything for anyone, I have the freedom to stop if I feel tired, not up to it, or just wanting to exercise at my own pace without being ridiculed or marginalised.

Once I cleared with that concept, I begin to conquer my derision and enjoy it. In my years in Singapore where I had to run because of IPPT and the army, I really detested it, hated it like poison.  Because I have been pressured to perform, it’s not competition against yourself, but against what people have set the yardstick on. And that’s not very enjoyable to me. And now, not only could I run, I could set records that I could never had imagined myself doing.

In conclusion, this is just my personal viewpoint. I know there are others who love being managed by people, they love working with people. And I really respect them because I don’t think I can get really near that directly. Indirectly, yes, not directly. But I guess, it’s up to one to find out what makes one tick, is it art, is it doodling, or maybe it’s something else that folks would shun away from – like community work or volunteering for help during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are also others who claim that their environment is what they make out of it and I shouldn’t use my environment as a scapegoat.

That’s true if you have a strong will.

I will admit that I did not. But what I went through gave me a stronger one than I have. 

To each his/her own, still, I do feel that it is important that  one has to discover what is fulfilling to oneself. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to live a meaningful life, for then life becomes procedural, meaningless, and the whole process of living is just there to please everyone.

And if you try to please everybody, you’ll eventually end up pleasing no one, least even yourself.

2010 – 2020

It’s the year 2020.

Some folks call it a decade, some decry that and call it incorrect, and that the definition of a proper decade ends this year and starts in 2021.


Global warming

You can’t please everyone. This last 10 years from 2010 to 2020 has been a period of being politically correct, being sensitive, being vegan etc…love the world.  Yet you see everyone still behaving as if the world is alright. In fact, that has taken a new twist and everyone is super ‘woke’ or ‘charged up’ about being someone than actually becoming someone that really matters. 2010 to 2020 has been a year which saw people putting all their energy, and I mean all of it into very minute things – Things that may not be as impactful or important but they are things, but not much energy into things that really matter.

It’s like everyone is aghast about climate change and political correctness and people believing that advocacy is the only way to do things. Well, advocacy is just 20% of how things are supposed to be done, but most folks forgot about the other 80% because they spent 100% of their energy on advocacy and they have nothing left for implementation.

In the world, there is still income disparity, we are still not there with gender equality, and we even seem to have trouble with the definition of gender (or for the lack of it).  I sometimes wish people will stop having ideologies and do something rather than just term things for a lark or just so that one group would feel more secure or/and fashionable. It is not wrong to desire a better place to live due to environmental/social concerns, but in doing that, you make everyone’s life 10x more difficult, begs the question of making the environment better in the expense of living. That should not be the case.  While it is true that extravagance leads to waste and obliviousness can make one insulting, but swinging to the other extreme makes you just as guilty. 

And then the things that were innocent and harmless are being exploited by the politically-correct sensitive crowd (aka the so-called warriors of social justice) just to fuel needless FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). 

There’re so many instances of this, google it yourself.

If I could sum up the last 10 years in a sentence, it would be that everyone wants to be a pretty and sensitive prick (and drag everyone along with them).

2010-2020 is also the decade of falsification of information, as well as using that accusation as an excuse when all facts failed. It’s like my parents telling me to look to God for guidance when they run out of reasons to decipher a situation logically. Similar tactic that is used by a lot of evangelical religious fanatics into situations which they felt they have ‘lost control’ of. 

Personally speaking

Personally, these last 10 years have been the better 10 years than my previous 10 years :).

I moved to Norway, am in the process of relinquishing my citizenship, changed jobs 3 times. This is my 2nd year at this current job that I have – but what can I say – except I really like what I’m doing. It’s not ideal to my dreams, but it’s the closest to it so far of all the jobs I’ve taken in my life.  Normally, by the 2nd or 3rd year, one would sort of feel whether one should continue working in a company or not.  But this is a growing company, and I, a system admin/engineer or whatever, grows along with it.  Lessons are learned, losses inflicted – physical, relational and financial wise, but all these give valuable and priceless lessons in my career.

It’s also the decade of self-discovery and reliance rather than something/someone that is believed on by many. It is also the decade I stopped believing in man-made things that are touted to bring peace, joy and fulfilment.  It never did, and ultimately, I am more fulfilled by believing in myself and my immediate family. That said, I’ve also become more accepting towards people of different beliefs. Because people have the right to believe what they want, but do not have the right to impose it forcefully upon others.

Because of this self-awareness, I’ve conquered many of my fears, weaknesses and sometimes things that seem to be a weakness stopped being one when I stop looking at them as a weakness. Such irony. Running, for example, is one of them. I’ve always had the opinion that I can never run as fast as someone else because of track record and my low self-esteem. But once I realised that I’m my only and worst enemy in all this, I started challenging and in the process of trying to better myself found myself become better than I thought I could be. This is only when I stopped using running as something I must achieve but as something that I must enjoy.  Same with sexual insecurity, same with the things that I used to fear.

It is my hope that I will continue to progress in the next 10 years. Especially when it comes to social skills and my work which I find currently lacking somewhat. As for running, I hope to achieve even greater heights to where I used to be, but only because I enjoy challenging myself rather than letting labels affect me, I just want to do as much as I can, rather than what society think I should be doing. Because society is untrustworthy, it’s fickle.  It’s not something that I can depend on with my heart and my soul. However, I am grateful for the nicer (but rare) and matured folks that come my way in my life – you guys/gals are what makes the difference between the diamonds and the fake gems shining in society today.

The place called Home

Coming back to Norway after over 14 days in Singapore is a strange experience. In a way, it was the same the other way around – from the tweets that I tweeted when I arrived Singapore then.

However, it was much more familiarity and comfort, rather than familiarity and discomfort. While it is true that in Singapore, to go out, I could just dress up simply and go. Here, I’ve to think about much more things before I go out, the cold, the outside temperature, whether the ground I walk on is slippery or not etc…

I walked Kohi this morning, and I forgot that I was not in Singapore anymore, so I went out with just hands that I had put hand cream on, without gloves. It was around 1°C and the pain on my hand and fingers that followed was familiar… :). So yes, welcome back to Norway, the cold, the expectation that you have to take care of a lot of things yourself. In a way, it’s a refreshing change, in a way, it takes getting used to again.

The sun. Just a few days ago, it was the thing I hated, detested and wished it gone. Now it is the one that I welcome with open arms, I can also now run at noon, without worrying about the humidity or getting heat stroke.  There is still snow here, although it is much less than when we left. The “rooftop marsipans” are largely gone now, and now we can see the grass again where there used to be ice.  Temperatures now are above zero, although still below 15. The leftover snow on our walk paths showed how much they occupied the path when walking. And talking about walking, yes, I had to get used to walking Kohi again, his gait when he was about to poo – prepares me for the newspaper and poo bag that I have to bring out to clear his poo. And when meeting other dogs, yes, his aggressiveness, dealing with other dog owners insecurities and fears, as well as his own etc..

Folks smile. I forgot how it was like, I smiled back. Yes, it’s been a while, I had always had grouchy, haggard faces greeting me the past few days. It’s spring perhaps, people are comfortable being themselves, their true nature. Of course, there’s also Norwegian spoken here that I have to remind myself to pick up again versus English that is spoken in Singapore.

And yes, a lot of things have to be independently done again. No longer can I just go out and buy ready cooked hot food, no longer can I just visit the nearest shopping centre like it’s a step out of the house when I needed things. Now I had to consider the fact that boutiques no longer open on weekends or have restricted weekend opening hours. And the fact that I need to buy my own groceries, bring and pack them in my own plastic bag, which I had already used for nearly a month. That and dealing with food that expire about 2 weeks, rather than months, making my own meals for my missus, me and my dog is a stark reminder that we make our own lives, we owe no one to make it for us.  Yes, I have to make my own breakfast and dinners, food has to be made not just bought now. There were some hiccups when I forgot some of the sequences that I used to remember for my breakfast earlier. A good thing is that there’s not so much oily foods now, and we could now control what we eat.

Home is also familiarly comforting. I can finally walk around in the nude, sleep in it, go to the toilet if I need to in the middle of the night without worrying that I’ll be caught in “inappropriate attire” by others, without worrying about what others might think. Come out from my shower without a care or anything covering myself. I’m free. So free. And the bed, yes, I missed my bed.

And then there’s the familiar extremes. Switches that mean off in Singapore mean ON here, taps that work the other way, extremes in water temperature – where there’s really HOT water and ICY COLD WATER, unlike in SG where there is just lukewarm (in its coldest tap water setting)

Yeah, it’s good to be back, it’s not perfect, but it is nice to be home.

Familiarity And Change

Life is strange.  On one hand, we look forward to change, and on the other, we find comfort in familiarity. Familiarity breeds contempt, contempt is a catalyst for change, which happens and then we embrace it with open arms, only to struggle because we were too comfortable to embrace change. Sooner or later, when change slows down, we become familiar again and the whole cycle repeats itself.  It basically sums up what I think most people go through in life. And sometimes, I wonder why we do this, or rather why we react to change and familiarity this way.

Had a dream one night where I saw myself  in the estate of Queenstown, Singapore. All the familiar things  came back – the overhead bridges, the Queensway underpass, the church where I used to go and the familiar scent of Singapore food. It overwhelmed me and I woke up feeling a bit nostalgic yet sad at the same time, also feeling depressed. But when reality kicked in, that depression gave way to anger mixed with guilt.

This sense of familiarity is probably what many advertisers use as a psychological bait to entice people to get a product. Why? Because there’s comfort in this, there’s comfort in knowing that all familiar feeling, and with comfort, it brings a smile. In this era where change is happening even faster than ever, we grow weary struggling to keep up, we want to stop everything and just cuddle in that familiar comfort.

The psychological vitamin of familiarity’s comfort is also used in political agendas. Interviews and speeches from the prime minister of Singapore have appealed to the nostalgic nature of things to entice Singaporeans living out of Singapore  to return.  Nostalgia. We seem to be very enamoured by it, we collect old music and reminisce, we remind ourselves of that comfort when we taste, see, and experience familiar things. It just seems … comfortable.

Yet, familiarity breeds contempt eventually. Too much of a good thing is likened to quick sand, where you will eventually sink when you do not move.

Last week was a week of sorts. I had resigned from my previous company (let’s call it X), I started on my new job as a systemansvarlig (system administrator) again. It looked like a demotion of sorts, from an engineer to an ‘administrator’, but that’s really just a title. In actual fact, I think I have gotten promoted in the role that I usually play as an engineer to something much, much more.

X was a good place to start, and the past (nearly) 2 years there have been valuable technically speaking. It was a good place that I can take hold of some technologies and just apply them and see what are the possibilities that they can change. A lot of stuff accelerated, a lot of stuff were resolved, or thrown out because it was too unwieldy because a better solution had been found.

But a lot of things still remained unchanged. And soon, it became apparent, that the greatest resistance to technology are fear, uncertainty and doubt.  There is so much that could have been done, but only limited to resources, and often than not, one is so consumed by the operational parts of the equation that we become a slave to it. By the time we awake and are truly aware that the whole process needs an overhaul, we are so mentally tired by it all that we no longer have the energy to evolve things.

And then there’s the social part of the job. I’ve been in an international setup before, there were prejudices and stereotypes, but people generally tried to get along.  And people who work as immigrants in a country that provides them a job, home and security ought not to bite the hand that feeds them.  Even if they don’t feel nationalistic, there is no need to be insular and raise a stink because one thinks themselves as better than the people one has a prejudice against, let alone the people who provide one with income.  There are people who immigrate for the many reasons. There are those that are just here to earn a living, without any intention to remain. And there are those who want to not just earn a living, but to see themselves are part and parcel of building up of a nation economically and socially.   I probably belong more towards the latter, where my (ex) colleagues were more towards the former. It was generally ok working with them, but in the long run I probably know I will never fit into their ideals.

So I got myself this new job. It’s a largely Norwegian company, of course with people from all over, and English is spoken in some communication channels but its heart and soul is Norwegian to the core.  What’s more interesting is the scope of work that I will be doing. It’s basically what I was doing in my last job before I left Singapore. Familiarity. Yes. This job is more inward looking, improve internal operations, maintain internal systems etc.. The last 2 jobs were mainly customer facing. This time, it’s inward facing, with information technology being the engine that is not the final product but a key element in the manufacture of it.  That’s the difference.

So it’s deja vu, and at the same time, I’m glad I went through the last 2 companies in a way. The experience does help, in fact, I already find myself applying some of them within my first 2 weeks of this job and it got some jobs done much quicker than it ought to. It also gives me a chance to build things from scratch where I had always been in a situation where someone more technically experienced had set the groundwork and I’ve to pick up where the person left off. Now, I get to do this all from bottom up. It’s scary, yet at the same time exciting.

And knowing me, I would want things to evolve. People, demands change all the time, and therefore, one needs to evolve accordingly. If one finds too much comfort in familiarity, one will just die standing. And like I mentioned earlier, contempt will quickly come settling in. On the other hand, if one evolves too much, you’ll just be drifting aimlessly like a ship without a rudder or a sail.  I guess the philosophy in working life is to ascertain changes and learn to accept them. Technology is the tool that will make the difference, it’s not the end to itself, but a catalyst for change to happen.  And when that time comes, I hope to have the wisdom to see it in that light.

A New Hope

Yeah, title is a parody of this 😛

Relatert bilde

If 2016 was reluctantly promising, 2017 was when reality hits home. Maybe 2018 will be when I see the future with a new pair of glasses.

Yeah, new job, and I can’t wait really, at the same time, I’m also a bit afraid.  Actually, I should not be, because fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate…to suffering.  There are many resolutions to be made at this time of the year, and of previous years, only to find them broken down at the end of every one. Maybe there are some exceptions, but most of the time they seem to remain resolutions.

I would rather focus on what’s learnt during 2017 to propel me for 2018.   Job wise, I know I made a mistake, career wise with my current employment, but I would like to think that I learn from it. And learn from it I did, quite a bit. Technically, I would say, I’m more aware, more self assured, although collaboratively and socially, I think I have ended up more disillusioned than before.   As one film puts it,

“The greatest teacher, failure is.”
Yoda – Star Wars, The Last Jedi

I will write more in a separate post in the future regarding details of why I really chose a new job (though still as a system administrator). In short, i do hope to have a better environment for being integrated in Norway in this new endeavour.  Technically, it’s also challenging and hopefully, if my interview at this new company promises, I’ll be dealing with something I always hoped to be able to do – hardware and Linux desktop support , rather than just software improvements and customisation.  Basically, I’ll be doing what all my current colleagues is doing (and possibly more). It sounds daunting, but the prospect of working in a pure Unix and Norwegian environment is really the deciding factor. I only hope it is as good as it sounded.

Speaking of failures, I  just hoped I can pass my Norwegian exam too which I took a month ago.  This was the first time I took an exam in full. The last time I did was a bad mistake when I forgotten my oral test schedule and after that, I was so affected by that logistical cock up that I didn’t want to take any more exams for the next 1-2 years. Yes, that’s my shame taking hold of me, using guilt to hold me in ransom. This year, I told myself that I had to take the exam, if I wanted to excel in Norwegian as my current company is not an ideal and suitable environment to integrate into Norwegian society. It was just too ‘internationalised’ to be of any assistance.   So I wised up, read through the logistics for the exam proper, and made sure I got everything correct. Now it’s only me, my efforts and some luck that will see me through when I get my results in January. I’m trying to keep my fingers crossed, but even if I did not make it, I know the next time round, I will be more prepared for it, and maybe I could even attempt to try the Bergen’s test.

Life wise, it could have been better, my health really took a turn for the worse when I had a major gout attack on March 2017. That, coincided with the fact that it also affected my running targets, and I think the self training made things worse that it could have been.  I hope 2018 would be a better year though health wise. It really sucks that I can’t enjoy a proper holiday without worrying whether I’m taking too much food with uric acid content, or an occasional social drink or two. Looking forward,  I’m glad that I’m now actively taking medication for gout treatment and watching my diet sensibly. Sadly, no more beer. Wine and liquor are ok though 😀

Yeah, I’m hoping that my health would be better so that I can gain back the confidence to do a lot of things, to try out new things, and not to be fearful of what ifs, but rather seize the chance to make a difference in my life here.   In my new job, I will switch to a more routine timetable, no more scheduled weekend sacrifices, no more working with people who clearly are only looking for a scapegoat without an inch of desire to excel in their job. In other words, I’ll have my weekends back, I don’t miss the off days, no, not one bit.  And then, from all these, I could finally start plan and work my life around something predictable rather than a time period which is ever changing.

Relationship wise, with Marianne, I think we have progressed much.  I’ve never felt more closer than we have ever been (and it’s not just physical, it’s more than that). There’s still a lot of room to grow of course, and I look forward to it.  I think I would say that our relationship is mature, although there is still so much to learn and to make it better.

I think this was the year that Marianne and I really took time to ski together. And one of my projects was to teach her to ski confidently. This was quite successful when we went to Hemsedal for a short winter vacation, despite some initial hiccups. Seeing her overcome her initial fears on skiing, really made me smile with happiness. I think it was a good thing that we went to Hemsedal, instead of continually trying out around Holmenkollen or at Råholt, in our own backyard. The trails at these places, while interestingly challenging, can be a put off to people who just want to learn to ski, to enjoy success in small things. Hemsedal (at least the beginner slopes) is really tame compared to the terrain on the last 2 places, and is a wonderful ground where one can learn to ski without being fearful of the unexpected.

And skiing is just one of the few things we see success in, there are many other things in this relationship we have, which I shall be keeping private. But all in all, it has been a really progressive year, despite the insane schedule and job woes that we both sometimes experience.

From spousal relationships to family ones. And that, has someone remained stagnant. By stagnant, that meant that nothing much has changed since 2016 ended. Which is kind of sad, actually. With my sis, communication has improved much. And I like the fact that I can now talk to my nieces more than just talking to a child, but to teenagers now.    Parents wise, sadly still the same, frustrations still abound, they still think I’m a lost cause and are trying to ‘save’ me via Christianity using all the tiresome, but familiar baiting techniques.

I guess this sums up 2017.  A lot of it had to do with work and health really. Part of the motivation to make myself better in Norwegian integration stems from the fact that I want to get a job in a Norwegian company. Ironically, I got the job even before I sat for the exam. Still, passing the exam was not a prerequisite for the new job, but it was rather a gauge of where I stand, language and culturally wise. Despite the fact that Norway now has a right based political slant and many migrants do fear for their future, I actually think it is a good thing that things are tightening up. I relish the challenge and I will want to face it head on, instead of worrying about my future because of my incompetencies in this area.   That sums up how I will want to face 2018, address my weakness, face them with courage, and progress further with making myself more a respectable migrant of this land. And hopefully, in the near future, being a citizen would be something that is capable and natural progression of the course of living here.

I look towards 2018 with hope, a new hope, that I can progress more as a person than 2017 which had been a disappointment in some ways, though a learning one in many others.

Is religion still relevant in today’s society?

Religion is put in a rather bad light nowadays, it is being blamed for terror attacks, human rights violations as well as perpetuating sexual inequality.  

Translated from an article : “All muslims are not terrorists, but most of the terrorists are ‘muslims'”

It seems that religion is no longer being used just to improve one’s moral lifestyle, but it is now used for political, selfish, corrupt agenda. It is supposed to help people, but because of it, its believers are now marginalised, persecuted and abused. Take Islam for example, because most terror suspects are “muslims”, Muslims all around the world feel the discrimination. And on the other part of the spectrum, the Rohingya people are being constantly persecuted and their rights given to the Buddhists. And of course we heard of the many homosexual people who are badly treated, abused in the so-called traditional Christianity based countries.

I look at religion as a form of group thinking based on unity in thought and morals with an assumption that everyone shares the same mindset. And once you have this, there will be always be territorial struggles, prejudices, conflict because religion is generally greedy and self serving by nature. I think it is possible to have a belief system without subscribing to religion’s restrictions. For example, I can still be a good person while having pork or beef (even on Fridays). I can still be a morally nice person while I have attractions towards the same sex. It is called humanity, we are diverse in beliefs, but we are one united front in preserving the human race. And that is what religion is sorely missing nowadays. Embracing diversity in the face of its traditional beliefs.

Twitter – Aesthetics and Social Psychology


Twitter changed its UI recently.

And it caused a big hoo haa on the web.  Lots of folks were dismayed that they now have to spend more money and time just to resize those icons onto those round containers. Square icon lovers were aghast against the new direction in which rounded icons took. People who had round faces that had Twitter’s square icons cover up much for them suddenly found themselves exposed, thus faced  avatars were quickly replaced by pictures of pizza, Sauron’s evil eye and other round objects resulting in even more pseudo identities. No one wants to be identified after Twitter’s UI upgrade that amplified everything that is to hate about being round.

Yeah, I jest and exaggerate a bit.  But you know what the worse thing is? It is that the users do not have a choice to go back to the old behaviour. Yeah, there are choices where you can install plug ins or add ons above twitter’s official clients to get back the old behaviour, but these are more like hacks than something that should have been officially supported.

That brings me to the philosophy of Twitter nowadays. I speak for myself and this is my own opinion but I think quite a few do share with my sentiments that twitter is no longer the small and friendly social platform that we hoped it should have been.  I have never used the official Twitter client, but it wasn’t as if I had not tried.  I just gave up because it was really hard to use and it’s not natural to me. What’s worse was that I don’t have the capability to adjust things on Twitter’s interface to make it suit my preference.

Thus, I have always used 3rd party clients. And when they start restricting choices/stopped evolving to meet Twitter’s ever growing list of restricted features, I had to switch.  Currently, I’m using TwitPane. It’s pretty bare bones, but it’s flexible.  And I’ve been a Twitpane/twicca plugin user for a long time. Plugins are fun. They sometimes automate things and do stuff unlike that belief that you have to “write an API” just to tweet a tweet you tweet often.

I have penned some of my thoughts here.

And it’s not just Twitter, sadly that is doing this. Google (infamous for their read-only policy for their API) and Facebook (tie ins, we control what you view, we want to be big brother approach) are also in the “corporatization” of social media.

I don’t know, but they have really taken the social out of social media, and replaced it with what they think and label it “social”.

how sad.

If this continues, we might really need to revert back to the IRC days.  IRC was cool, just that probably its user experience was quite archaic which can be counter intuitive and occasionally gets in the way of being naturally social.  If current social media giants take a step back and see what was social they had lost after all that interference as compared to IRC, perhaps they would get a grip and make social platforms social again.

To the social corporations, I have this to say:

You can’t own something that is social,  you facilitate the platform, but please do not facilitate until the platform loses its social functions altogether because of facilitation overload.

Social Psychology

Talking about social, and away from user experience, here’s a different part of the user experience that cannot be resolved by css or other web UI tweaks.

This is about the social psychology of Twitter’s influence.

Social psychology is defined on Wikipedia as the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.

On Twitter, this is the part where it is probably the science of why there are interest cliques, the phenomena of social influence on product marketing, and the wonder of people reactions to things.

Emotions like rage, pity, empathy, encouragement, sadness, cheerfulness etc..  are collectively expressed over an event based on a tweet. It is therefore interesting to observe the collective influence of just a few choice words. And then there’s the influence of “influenzers” and “social justice” (SJW) or keyboard warriors and why they play an important role in this social ecosystem.

Like I’ve said, there are people who are influencers,  and then there are those that also get influenced easily.  So it is natural on Twitter to collectively feel/react for certain things.  Like the “covfefe” fiasco, regardless whether it was deliberate or accidental, it sure bought a lot of laughs and scorn at the same time collectively for many Twitter folk. It also bought a lot of creativity and speculation. But it is a good example of people reacting collectively.

There were also instances where sensitivities of a country is being misunderstood and unwittingly “insulted”.  Especially stuff like food and its disputable origins in the Singaporean context. And also when SJWs start reacting vehemently whenever there is any excuse of anything that can be made racist or culturally inappropriate. RAGE seems to be the fad nowadays on Twitter, like if you are not raging, you probably are strange or a social media misfit. It’s like it’s the next in thing tantamount to a rage room where you go and smash things.

To be honest, if it was an occasional rage against the machines, I guess we could live with it.  But when it happens on a regular basis, you wonder what’s happening to the world we live in. Do we just live for rage? Or is the world making us so angry all the time that we do not know how to smile and laugh any more. It does seem like everyone aspires to be an SJW of sorts. And this is an interesting article about them here which I agree somewhat, although the focus of this blog entry is not to dwell on this.

And then there is the unending echo chamber twitterers.  It has been said by quite a bit of folk that to them,  Twitter is basically an echo chamber – where you just tweet your own thoughts for your own benefit, for your own pleasure.

Basically, it just means that to many, Twitter is just keyboard masturbation.

Well, personally, it is a good thing – having something as a form of diary/echo chamber, where you can verbalise your thoughts freely without inhibitions, but you know what they say (myth, yes) with regards to masturbation – Too much masturbation and you’ll go blind.  And figuratively, yes in this context.

Too much treating of Twitter as an echo chamber will make you blind to the fact that there are people out there who share the same thoughts as you, but have progressed onto other things, who have matured, who have seen the light and maybe do not share such dark thoughts.  Therefore, Twitter should be more than just a place for mental masturbation, it is a place to share, to discuss, to empathise, to have an opinion with without arguing mindlessly. It is social.  If I want to just have a place where I can just pen my thoughts rather than have everyone reacting to intimate facts like (OH I DIDN’T KNOW CALEB HAS NUDIST TENDENCIES), I might as well just setup a private wordpress blog or even make it protected just for family members or close friends where I know everyone agrees with me.  If WordPress is too yesteryear for you, there is also Journey. which has an Android app, Chrome app among a shiny new modern interface with zero effort setup and cloud syncing and all the wonderful works.

This is subjective, but I never advocate (and I think Twitter used to share this viewpoint) Twitter accounts being protected. I mean, i can have a public account and can pseudo-microblog it until it becomes really an alter ego of me, not my real self. Isn’t that almost the same as being protected? Sure, one can agree that by being protected, I can be my truthful self and I can hide myself from assholes and trolls who have nothing to do except to shame and criticise you as a form of sport.  However, how much can you really hide to be honest? Nowadays, people can just screenshot any private account and it becomes public already. What’s worse is that the probability for being misunderstood can be even greater because the probability of taking it out of context is much more.

I personally prefer to block or mute people rather than set my account to private.  And I think that is everyone’s right and prerogative. But I can understand that people have different ways of looking at the situation and also, you need not deal with the negative connotation of being blocked (hence, muting sometimes is a good way to have some temporal respite).

It is thus no wonder that some people eventually want to quit Twitter altogether. Imagine being in a rage room 7 days a week or in a cave full of echo chambers daily.

Therefore, it is understandable that people who post interesting and read worthy tweets eventually commit twitter suicide. If you are not being angered far too often, you will also be “drowned in the echos” and get very lost and disoriented.  I agree and empathise. But I could also offer an alternative. It is the friends you choose to follow and the ones you choose to put aside that would save your sanity and not lose faith in such a wonderful platform as this.

For example, on my Twitter account, I have grouped my followers into groups/list that:

  1. I think I should follow closely
  2. I think I should just read when I’m bored
  3. I should not read unless I’ve nothing else better to do or I want some provocation in my life ?

Sure, this takes effort and it’s initially tedious, but it does help keep my sanity in check.  But what if you find yourself hooked on arguments that go on and on and you’re stuck in its tangled web. Note that you have every right to stop when it gets too annoying for you, or just do something else altogether. Technically, there are of course many other ways some folk have done this to prevent Twitter fatigue, as I would have called it.

I mean, it’s really reflective of the world offline isn’t it? Just because the world is full of bad news and terrorists now, does that mean you become emo and depressed like the world ought to be according to their intent? No, definitely not. You go read a book,  exercise, bake,  have sex, do something that you enjoy doing or at least with someone intimate that you know that can have control overall or somewhat.

You can’t avoid the world and it’s rubbish, but that does not mean you have to quit the world.

The world was created for you, it is what you make of it, don’t make it make you.

Similarly, with Twitter. It was created for you (hopefully, it stays that way), it is what you make of it.

Don’t make it make you.