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Social media spats: Do we really need to spill the tea?

This week online, there were a couple of social media spats swirling about keeping netizens glued to their screens, popcorn at the ready.

The first is a “he said, she said” saga of a pet parrot that flew into a home in Khatib, prompting a man and his family to care for the bird. When the owner came to retrieve the pet, there was some miscommunication over compensation, which led to a rather harsh exchange of words.

TL:DR Parrot got lost, parrot got found, finder mentions money, owner gets upset, everyone loses.

Here’s the longer version of what transpired if you really must know.

Money and miscommunication turned what would have been a wholesome story (“hi, I found your pet”, “oh thank you so much, I was so worried!”) into a drawn-out affair where both sides end up making barbed comments about each other online and to the media.

The man who found the parrot put up his side of the story online. Image source:

Here’s a question: Why do we sometimes find the need to have to complain online about every encounter in our lives?

I understand that it is important to raise legitimate issues and concerns, but sometimes, perhaps we might want to take a step back from posting an angry comment or making a passive-aggressive statement too quickly.

Don’t immediately hit the post or send button. Take a walk, take a nap, or even just take a breath. Then see if you still feel that your comment needs to be aired so publicly.

Talking about barbed comments, more than a month after Zoe Gabriel went viral on TikTok for being shamed for calling a Charles & Keith bag a luxury item, she was the recipient of yet more negativity online.

This time, someone posted what she thought was an expose of the 17-year-old “Charles & Keith girl”, as more people would know her.

The netizen insinuated that Zoe “wasn’t as poor as she makes herself out to be”, prompting Zoe to post a TikTok to clear the air.

@zohtaco💗♬ original sound – zoe 🦋

Other netizens spoke up for Zoe as well, which led to, surprise surprise, mudslinging and name-calling online.

I’m not entirely sure what the netizen’s goal was, to dig into someone’s family background to “expose” them for something that they have been upfront about.

Frankly, it seems a little salty to be this invested in trying to debunk a generally wholesome story about a teenager getting some social media clout.

What I especially did not like was how the netizen referred to Zoe as “the Charles and Keith (sic) Pinoy girl”.

There are ways to legitimately raise concerns. Lowkey playing the race card and dehumanising people with labels is not one of them.

Better united than divided

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in yesterday’s address in Parliament, we are better united than divided.

He said: “In Singapore, when faced with a divisive issue, our approach has always been to find a middle way, bridge the differences, strike compromises and heal divisions. Not grand posturing; not playing cultural or identity politics; not dividing and polarising people.”

“Our instinct always is to keep Singaporeans together. We have to keep on thinking and acting like this. Please do not take our harmony for granted. It is a very precious thing, and very fragile. We must continuously work on it, and build up our social cohesion and national strength.”

Sometimes, in our busy-ness, we don’t always pay attention to what goes on in Parliament. Even the clips that gain traction online tend to focus on snarky soundbites and clashes between government ministers and opposition members.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his 50-minute speech in Parliament on Apr 19. Image source: MCI

So we tend to overlook the positive stuff, because it’s not dramatic.

But this bears repeating: Singapore’s social cohesion is a fragile constant work in progress. It’s never a situation of “oh we’ve achieved it, yay, we can rest now”; it’s more like “we’re good, we can get better, let’s not slacken off”.

To do that, we should continue to call out inequality and unfairness, but in a way that encourages dialogue and mutual respect.

As President Halimah noted in her address to open Parliament last week: “every Singaporean must feel that they have a stake in our country. The fruits of our progress must be shared fairly, and no one should feel left behind.”

She shared key things about social safety nets, seniors, sustainability, public housing, our national identity and helping the vulnerable. It’s a good reminder to focus on the important things in life.

Helping ex-offenders with digital upskilling

Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development interacting with one of the participants from the pilot batch at the Acronis-HCSA Computer Classroom. Image source: HCSA

Talking about taking meaningful actions, earlier this month, HCSA Community Services launched a new facility to provide the needy with digital skills and job opportunities.

The charity helps vulnerable groups such as ex-offenders, abused teenage girls, and single parents enhance their employment readiness and upskilling.

Located at HCSA Highpoint Halfway House, a residential shelter for homeless male ex-offenders, the classroom offers multi-disciplinary IT upskilling courses in a joint initiative between HCSA, Yellow Ribbon Fund and cyber security firm Acronis.

The 12-seater Acronis-HCSA Computer Classroom offers courses in Microsoft Office, e-mail composition and other fundamental skills for the digital workplace, as well as job interview training. It is open to all former offenders, not just residents of the halfway house.

The first batch of participants comprising 10 ex-offenders completed the ICDL Microsoft Office courses held over six days earlier this month.

Calling for Singapore Silent Heroes nominations

If you know of any people who have been quietly serving others without fanfare or need for recognition, you can nominate them for this year’s iteration of Singapore Silent Heroes.

Nominations for the annual awards, now in its 10th year, with multiple categories like Heart of Humanity, Pioneer of Promise and Compassionate Foreigner was officially launched last month and will close on May 30.

These cats have no BTO problems

@janetcashcashchin How about MiaoDonald’s? #cathouse ♬ My Day – Oneul

And in this week’s wholesome video, check this out.

Cats love cardboard boxes. Show a cat a box and chances are, you’ll see a pair of eyes peeking out at you from inside before long.

Community cats often don’t have places to sleep but cat lover Janet Chin took the project to the next level by creating elaborate cardboard homes for them – she has a whole array of them on her TikTok channel.

She told Mothership that she came up with the idea of dressing up the boxes so that cleaner won’t mistake them for trash and throw them away.

Judging by the effort put into her work (every home is unique), it is certainly a labour of love!

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