“Grandmothers believe in positive vibes only.”
That’s the message behind Grandmother Stories, a TikTok account that Josiah Leong created with his 90-year-old grandmother Wan Soo Moi.
In his introductory video on Tik Tok, he shares how he often feels that it’s him and her against the world. Says the 32-year-old architect: “Now it is the time to share his grandmother’s positive vibes with the rest of the world.”
With over 19,000 followers and 780,000 likes, the channel has grown immensely since it was started in 2021. Now, the grandson and grandmother duo use their channel not only to spread positivity through their humorous and lighthearted content, but to also talk about important issues such as mental health, relationship red flags and ageing.
Stories that resonate
@grandmotherstories #ad One thing remains across generations – we all are in need of support! ❤️ #OkForReal #TikTokSG ♬ original sound – grandmotherstories
One of their videos that went viral was on mental health.
In the 58-second clip, Josiah asks his grandmother about stress and postnatal depression and she replies frankly in Cantonese that during and after her pregnancy, she was moody and frustrated but couldn’t show her emotions due to the circumstances. She shared that she often had to bottle up her feelings and often was left with no more tears to cry.
One of her comments that resonated with me was when he asked her if she ever felt stressed. Her reply? “Of course all of us do. Even a king faces stress, what more just commoners. It is inevitable.”
The clip was viewed more than 300,000 times and received almost 3,000 likes.
One user, EL, praised the duo for their advice on positivity on an important topic while another user ozriekz wrote: “i am happy that i am able to understand what she says without the subtitles. listen to grandma’s advice, she’s lived long enough to see it all.”
A strong bond
It was evident through the clips that the duo shared a strong bond. Although it is common to see grandparents (especially grandmothers!) and grandchildren being so close, it is rare to find them creating content online together.
As Josiah still lives with his parents and his grandmother, it really helped him bond with everyone in his family.
In an interview with Our Grandfather Story, Grandma Wan shared how Josiah would often tell her to talk to him about her problems if her children didn’t want to listen to her.
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Josiah explained that probably his parents had already heard his grandmother’s old sorrows too often but that he found these stories fine and that he genuinely enjoyed her company.
This highlighted the bond between two generations separated by almost 60 years worth of life experience but are yet very similar in character.
Josiah even commented that if they were from the same generation, that they would be good friends!
Creating content together
Josiah shares with The Pride that he initially started posting clips with his grandmother on his Instagram stories and realised that many of his followers adored her stories.
It was only during Chinese New Year in 2021 that he started posting on TikTok as he felt that it would help him spread more positivity with his content and “share his grandmother with the rest of the world”.
Initially, creating content was not an issue as he would just upload his Instagram content on his TikTok channel. But now, he creates fresh content with his grandmother, something that is easy to do since they are still living together in the same HDB flat.
“Most of our videos are not planned, it’s spontaneous,” Josiah says, adding that his grandmother is a natural on camera, which made making content with her a breeze.
Often, he just needs to set up the camera and start the ball rolling with a question. Other times, he captures normal everyday moments between the two of them.
These days, he posts less as he is returning to the office more often. Nevertheless, the duo would upload a clip at least once a week.
As for how he comes up with different video ideas, Josiah says that he is always on the lookout for trends and important issues that he feels Singaporeans would be interested in.
That process ensures that each of his videos gets at least more than 1,000 views each. His best performing clip — one with his grandmother commenting on how his “thin ears” means that whoever marries him would be very fortunate, prompting a delighted laugh from him — netted 3 million views!
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Josiah admits that one of the more tedious processes is the editing he has to do for the videos: He has to subtitle most of the videos in English as Grandma Wan speaks mostly in Cantonese.
One of his more recent viral videos is the new home tour Josiah did with his grandmother.
He plans to move out with his fiancee to his new home soon, so he showed his grandmother his new place for her approval. Even with the fresh start Josiah captioned the video, “I made sure to be still a stone’s throw away from grandma.”
“Positive Vibes Only”
Josiah says that one of the main reasons he does such content with his grandmother is the simplest, yet most important one.
“I just want to spend as much time with her,” he says.
Without sounding too sombre, Josiah emphasises the importance of spending time with our seniors before they are gone. Even with his other commitments, he still makes the effort to spend time with her and create content at least once a week.
In an interview done with Home Ground Asia, Josiah said: “Spending time together, recorded or not, is something that she deeply appreciates at this age.”
He shared in that interview how “his grandmother’s friends have expressed their happiness for her, congratulating her for being so ‘well-loved by her family’.”
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The support that he receives from his viewers is a motivation.
As the channel has grown, they have been approached by organisations such as the Temasek Foundation to talk about mental health.
It shows how this grandma-grandson duo’s influence has grown to such an extent where viewers are interested to hear their opinions.
Watching their videos, I realised how important it is to spread positivity in our society. These videos could make someone’s day while teaching people the importance of family.
Josiah shares that nowadays, with so much negative news, it is so important to spread some positivity — little acts of kindness can go a long way.
@grandmotherstories after this she said angbaos are better than flowers. #tiktoksg #asiangrandma #fypsg #tiktokmalaysia ♬ Make You Mine – PUBLIC
As the duo said, “May we both bring positive vibes only, a reminder that love always triumphs.”