Tabi basa & greetings everyone. I feel blessed because I am able to read in order to learn; feel blessed because I am able to engage my creative side by writing (typing) to express my opinions and feel blessed because I am able to inspire others through my writing via this story series (blog).
In this letter, I’d like to write about something that has been bugging my mind recently. It is not meant to be an easy topic to be digested, but someone has to say it. I am quite used to people telling me that my writing are often heavy, but that’s how I like it.
THE RECENT SOCIAL MEDIA HYPE: THREADS
Thread is an app that was recently launched by Meta, designed by the same team behind Instagram. It was a fascinating apps actually. Its format, although most would say it is heavily-inspired by Twitter, is actually a cross between Instagram and Twitter.
It is not surprising that millions of people around the world are trying to get used to it, growing their account and hopefully, becoming Threads-famous.
I myself have my own Threads account https://www.threads.net/@claudiusweson so that I am able to see what it is all about.
GETTING TO KNOW ABOUT THREADS
Just like any other social media, you would need to take some time to understand how it works, its algorithm, expand your base and gaining some followers, and ultimately, you will be able to get some meaningful leads back to your business.
For example, if you are a photographer, you will be able to showcase your artworks there. More platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) means greater chance of people discovering your work.
Perhaps there are some people who uses different persona for each of those soc-meds platforms. Facebook for family-friendly items; Twitter for more blunt expressions; Instagram for more open-minded audiences and Threads? Still discovering.
HOURS UPON HOURS: DIGITAL CRYSTAL BALL IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE
Some of my friends spent countless hours at soc-med, especially Threads, just to see all those new updates there, and sleep late around 2-3am. Then they need to wake up before 7 am since they have to work at 8 am.
After working 8 hours per day, and in-between those hours are mixed usage of their soc-med, they went back home, tired.
While lying on their bed, smartphone are still glued to their hand, sticking right in front of their face. Smartphone is never far from them. Always within reach. Whatever they wish to know, it is right in front of them. Convenient, isn’t it?
WHAT’S WRONG HERE?
Did you notice what went wrong there? A lot of us actually are comfortable with the idea of wasting hours everyday facing their smartphone, just to doom-scrolling on these social media apps.
What is doom-scrolling? It is term used to describe the act of excessively scrolling through negative news on social media, such as TikTok, YouTube shorts, Instagram Reels etc. You’re basically scrolling up, again and again. Without you realising it, you actually spent the whole night scrolling.
The problem is, you are being fed (hence the term feed) with endless stream of trivial information, where almost all of it has no benefit to you (maklumat picisan), though initially you might perceive it as meaningful.
For example, why on earth would you need to know the latest Hollywood gossip? I don’t need to know about A or B celebrity.
After hours upon hours of usage, your eyes turn read, your breath is shorter, you’re getting tired and sleepy, but you don’t feel like stopping, as if your fingers are on its auto-pilot and you’re the passenger. Clock shows 3am, yet there you are, still lying wide awake on your bed. You’re supposed to go to bed four hours ago.
On day time, when you are not working, you became couch potato. No need to work extra. All you need to do is to sit back & relax, and enjoy.
Perfect life, isn’t it?
That begs the question:
ARE YOU REALLY IN CHARGE OF YOUR MIND?
It is easy to see that we are living an era where countless companies out there are trying to acquire your most valuable asset, which is your time. To be exact, your attention.
WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING THE WAR FOR YOUR ATTENTION?
To put it simply, if they managed to get your attention, they can influence your mindset, and ultimately, gains control on your thought and your worldview. That includes how you’d spend your money.
Everything is about profit nowadays. It’s all about the money. Ringgit, ringgit, ka-ching!
HOW THIS ADDICTION BEGINS (INNOCENTLY)?
Humans are a creature of habit, because that helps to make life simpler. Since everyone has a smartphone, and most of us have a social media, every once in a while, we’ll check it out for the latest news. Be it the notification from our new Threads account or our existing Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok etc.
But, something happened in our life. For example, you or someone important in your life recently joined an online competition. You helped to promote them, or you’re promoting yourself. Since you’re using Facebook to promote yourself, then by right, you should pay attention to every Facebook notification.
It might be some info from sponsors, supporters or some unknown mystery fans. You’d never know.
So, every 10-15 minutes, you’ll check your phone. Imagine doing it for 2 months. Congratulations! You have formed a new habit. Out of habit, even though the competition is over, but you can’t help but to check your phone on that regular interval.
Even if there is no notification whatsoever from your phone, but instinctively, your hand might reach out and grab your phone sitting idly on your table. Don’t you?
DAILY DOPAMINE FIX
Try going offline for a few minutes. Are you affected? Now try for few hours? Feeling anything yet? No? Good. Then you are not addicted.
My personal experience with some true hardcore smartphone addict is quite mind-blowing. The moment you switched off the high-speed wifi, he’ll get furious, as if it’s a matter of life and death. But in reality, he was just killing his time online, doing nothing substantial. He just loves to be online, musing himself to no end with those short form content.
SHORT FORM CONTENT
Short form content is a media that consist of short blog post, or video that is shorter than 10 minutes. The most famous short form content is a 6 seconds video, started by Vine, then that same formula is made even more popular & profitable by TikTok with its initial 15 seconds video, then 60 seconds.
On top of that, Tik Tok allows video uploading, sahring, editing, effects, likes & comments, pinned comments, soc-med sharing, direct messages (DM), duet, stitching, tags, live streaming, geo locations and analytics, things that really appeals to the current audience.
Best of all, it’s free!
THE PRICE WE PAY
WEAPON OF MASS DISTRACTION
Little we realise, despite being “free” from literal money, the weapon of mass distraction (smartphone) actually costs us a lot in the long run. The problem with this one, not many really think that far ahead. YOLO – Live in the moment – bila lagi? (if not now, when?) – those are good approaches. But one shouldn’t innocently apply it to everything, especially when it comes to gadget.
Responsible usage of smartphone means you uses it when you required to use it, or when you actually need to use it. For example, when you want to connect with your peers about work, following-up with someone or to work on your Facebook page/Instagram account etc.
However, you are considered distracted when all you do is to scroll up down your smartphone aimlessly, or using smartphone for the sake of killing time since you are too free.
Too free here is also quite vague. No one is too free or too busy actually because it depends on your priority. If your priority is to indulge in those entertainment, then you will inadvertently abdicate your responsibility and ultimately, your goal (if there is any).
Furthermore, it is becoming more and more for young adults to entertain themselves with beautiful pixels, blindly convincing themselves that it if for the right purpose. But a pixel is still a pixel, no soul is present. What do you wish to obtain again?
Weapon of mass distraction, indeed.
This stands for NO MObile PHone PHOBIA.
This includes the fear of being out of cell phone cellular range or being cut-off from internet connectivity or wifi.
Someone acting irrationally after being cut-off from internet line or doing their best to avoid from losing any internet / cellular range is highly likely to have nomophobia.
One of the most significant drawbacks of short-form videos is shortening of our attention span. With salvoes of information, entertainment, all those fun stuff at the tip of your fingers, it became a catalyst to an instant gratification.
We don’t have to struggle much to know more about something.
20 years ago, things are so much different. You have to really put in effort to learn about something. Imagine, learning about Physics, Chemistry and Biology. You have to visualise all of those in your head. Pronouncing mitochondria, amoeba or paramecium is a struggle to some. Finding literary materials about difference between H2Oand H2O is not easy and E=mc2 is still our wild dream.
But now, one only need to search for it online. Or should I say, just Google it. What most people mean was, just search it as any search engine. But we love to simplify things. Any 4WD cars, Hilux. Any toothpaste, Colgate. Any choco drinks, Milo.
In place of life’s convenience that we have now, we have to pay using our mental health. We are living in the era where we are actually have the highest survival rate, despite what mass media wants you to believe.
Also, no one is truly lost nowadays thanks to Google Map. You can just Google-Map your way out of the place you’re lost. Reduced dependence on your memory actually makes memorising things redundant.
It is actually different if you have to memorise things just to stay alive.
Note: Actually goldfish can remember things up to 5 months. But for the sake of idiom, I just use that title.
BYE-BYE BEAST MODE
When people say “Beast Mode”, they are referring to an aggressive persona one might assume when in competition, especially when it comes to physical competition; e.g. weight lifting, sparring.
During Borneo head-hunting days, one has no choice but to be strong. Dayak warriors in the past are strong, light, lean and swift. They focus on functional muscles, and the concept of building aesthetic muscle is unheard off. One has to be light & quick, but strong because that’s how they survive. Only the strongest shall survive. If not because of hunger, it’s due to predators or war.
Not only physical strength, but also spiritual strength. One needs to have spiritual strength because it will help to improve their “battle stats”, such as making them invincible, extra fast, extra strong and invisible. Just legends of the past, they are able to teleport between great distances effortlessly.
Some even meditate in caves for years, or learn the art from mystical sages just to gain an upper hand in combat or to plot their revenge against an enemy tribe.
Regardless of your tribe groups, if you are one of their best warriors, you will be rewarded handsomely. They are often likened to a tiger, or lion, due to their strong battle prowess & charisma as a tribe’s leader.
However, in the modern world, there is very little need for us to be like that. There is no head-hunting anymore. No strong reason to be strong. Why should you be strong, when you can just sit back, relax and sip your favourite drinks, delivered by hard-working food deliveryman.
No one’s going to attack / mug or threaten you, right? Right?
In the place of these convenience, most of our inner lions are slowly transforming into cute, little cats.
Hence, sayonara Beast Mode.
WHAT DID WE LOST AGAIN?
SHORTENING OF ATTENTION SPAN
A lot of people would say that they lost their attention span. In other words, they have to really put an effort in order to focus into something.
When I was in secondary school, I can spend hours after hours reading Jungle of Hope, an English version translated by Adibah Amin, a literary art by Keris Mas. Reading that book gives me joy. Until now, I remember its main character, Pak Kia and his brother, Zaidi. A struggle between old and new ways of life, traditional versus modernisation. The story revolves around Janda Baik & Ketari, Bentong, Pahang. I like how that story are so well-written that I can feel myself in their scenario. Reading it brings me joy.
Reflecting on what I used to accomplished, 3 hours of undivided attention. Now, stimuli is bombarding me every minutes.
I can’t really say I don’t appreciate it, but that’s how much we have changed. Our ancestors used to live a more slow-paced way of life. But now, we are in a fast-paced life, that if we don’t catch-up, we’ll be left behind.
Other than their attention span, they also “lost their willpower”.
SLOW DRIP OF POISON THROUGH ENDLESS FANTASY
What fascinates me is that through the power of social media or internet in general, we can actually see what we wants to see. We can live vicariously through the eyes of our favourite influencers, whoever that might be. There is no need for us to go to X location because we can actually see how it’s like there within few clicks on our laptop or swipes on our smartphone.
The internet provided with an endless fantasy. Isn’t that great?
Whatever we want to see, we can see it online: fast cars, sexy women / men, anime, any of those wild imagination of yours, you can see it online.
Without you knowing or realising it, our smartphone has become our modern-day digital hypodermic needle, delivering slow drip of poison to further entice you with these enthralling visions, taking further away from your destiny.
Why bother going through the pain of rejection in order to find a girlfriend, sacrifice your hard-earned money and get married when you can always Google those sexy women whenever you feel your biological needs call for it?
Why bother working hard to buy your new Leica when you can always watch camera reviews and check its image quality online?
Why bother hustling to make your dream a reality when you can always sit down or lie down and entertain yourself 24-7 without even break a sweat?
Life is good, isn’t it? Wait til reality hits you.
FOMO – FEAR OF MISSING OUT
Meanwhile, FOMO is the fear that is gripping a lot of peoples. If they don’t know the latest gossip, news etc, what’s hot happening at Facebook etc, they might feel bad. It is perceived as bad such that many would follow it up with compulsive behaviour to maintain these social connections.
For example, in photography world, you ought to buy the best and the latest and the baddest gear. Buy wireless, not DSLR. If you buy rangefinder, you’ll make your life difficult.
In movies, you should have watched this, this and that. In series, you must see this, this and that drama series. How to finish it in one night? Where there is a will, there is a way. Stay up & burn the midnight candle.
FOMO also another reason why a lot of people don’t want to stay far away from their smartphone. They have to know the latest news, despite its price.
Most of the time, it often weighs heavily on our mental health. Depression is at an all-time high now.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU DON’T CARE?
The Tale of Two Persons
Consider two persons: A & B.
A is a guy who never wants to miss out on anything, hangout or latest news. He has a reputation of being a walking Google. Ask him anything. For sure, he’ll know about it. In fact, he spends his waking hours trying to know as much as he can. He focus on broadening his knowledge sphere. He’s a fast texter too. Nothing left unreplied within few minutes.
B, on the other hand, is a guy who just do his own things. Not to say he’s quiet. He still can engage in a normal conversation just like any other guy, still has his own favourites. But, he focuses on his own thing: music. He likes to sing and play guitar. He can stay at his home studio for hours on end, just to perfect his craft.
When he’s in his zen, he doesn’t care about other things. That’s why a lot of his friends call him a slow replier, but he doesn’t really care. When he is asked about the latest gossip, he would bluntly say he don’t know. People would call him names but he don’t really care about it.
Ideal World Ending of the Tale
In an ideal scenario, A would be someone famous and B would be a famous musician & singer. But, giving this example a reality check, A ended up working in a multi-national company, same with B.
A can connect with anyone, whilst B takes a bit of time. A was often asked to organise events and becomes an emcee.
However, as for B, he is known for one specific thing. Though A can charm the crowd with his words and charisma, B can captivate the audience with his voice and guitar skill.
Few years later, B released his own materials at Spotify and Apple Music. While A? Not so much though probably he has a lot of demand to be wedding / corporate emcee. In the silence of the night, A often run the scenario “what if” in his mind.
What if I focus on this? What if I focus on that? What if I focus on those things? “What if” to no end.
While B, he just doesn’t care and just carry on with his life. Life is what it is. Whatever happened, let it be for it’s just water under the bridge. All that matter for him is to concentrate on his goal.
Summary of the Story
In summary, both of them reap what they sow. B focuses on excellence on a single, particular field. While A, focus on being that all-knowing person. If A didn’t know about the latest news, he would be frantic, as he knows, anytime his title can be taken away from him. But B, he has nothing to worry. He is just happy being himself and has no need to impress anyone to like him.
If no one likes him, he’s cool with that, as long as he can perform his arts.
In reality, we should be more like B, focus on our life, on what we can control, with a little bit of A, trying to know things that is relevant to us. But, we don’t have to be that all-knowing person. It’s tiring and can affects us mentally.
It is important for you to do your best, exhaust your options and effort at that time, such that you won’t wander off “what if” mentally again.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO NEXT?
In this world that is trying to dictate what good is for us, we should take back control for of our lives. Remember my story about 3 hours attention span, you can do that, but it has to be done in gradual manner.
TAKING BACK CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
Think of it as a step by step effort to increase your running mileage. If you want to accomplish 42km full marathon, you should start by running 1km first. Slowly, you increase your mileage.
Don’t just try to run 42km. It is not without a risk, especially if you are first time. Just because your influencer can do full marathon without training doesn’t mean you can.
There are things that is being hidden behind the scene. Respect your own physical limit and work your way up, at your own healthy pace.
Same goes to retaining your attention. You start with 1 minutes first, then 2, 3 until you can finally be at the level you wish to be at. 1 hours of uninterrupted focus is awesome. If you can focus that long per day, without any interruption, you can accomplish great things in the long run.
The same technique applies to everything in your life. Set a target (must be SMART Goal). Start small, do it consistently until you finally manage to build your momentum. Then keep on pushing.
SMART here means:
S – Specific: Clearly set your goal (or what you want to accomplish).
M – Measureable: Ensure that you can measure your goal (e.g. money, number of awards)
A – Attainable: Challenging, but you know it is possible. (E.g. RM100,000 in 10 years VS RM1 billion in 1 year, you know which one is which).
R – Relevant: The goal helps you to achieve your dream. E.g. You want to be a great photographer, but you are learning how to dance. Perhaps you may revise your goal.
T – Time-bound: Set a deadline. Otherwise, it will always be “some day”.
FEW TIPS YOU CAN TAKE
Realising that you are still “plugged”, you can’t immediately “unplug” lest you suffer. Therefore;
1. Don’t Rush Things
If you’re just starting out, don’t rush things. Rushing means you are not mentally ready to make this step. If you are in a frequent-texting relationship, do inform your other half that you wish not to be interrupted for the next few minutes to do your work or your immediate goals.
That’s why it is important to find the right circle. This is especially true when it comes to finding your life’s partner. Some people can’t live without your attention. Perhaps he / she is dealing with their own inner demon too?
Nevertheless, you have to strategise on how do you want to fight the War for Your Attention. It is for your own good too.
2. Do Not Disturb
Next, when you want to focus you your goal or task at hand, you can also set Do Not Disturb at your phone or laptop when you are online. At the same time, you can use some calming music to stay focused. “Time” by Hans Zimmer is a good choice, a music that makes you feel like you’re in a movie, and you’re going to change your life for the better.
Or you can listen to “Bury the Light”, Vergil’s soundtrack. If you’re not motivated after hearing that song, I don’t know what to say.
3. Visualise Your Battles
If you are still struggling, try to keep a record on how much you can focus. Once you know you are approaching your limit, record it down. Make a graph. Visualise it. You can’t beat things you can’t measure or see. By making your mistakes visible, you can actually make a continuous improvement. Kai – Zen, in Japan.
4. Get Enough Rest
Also, try to get enough sleep. You won’t accomplish much if you are not well-rested.
A lot of people would need at least 7 hours for them to be fully rested. Some claim they sleep less hours at night, but I don’t believe it is without any consequences. Probably it is some ticking bomb. God knows when it will explode.
5. Awake Your Inner Beast
Once you are ready with the steps above as your priming process, or like what I like to call it, warming up, you can proceed to the next step.
Types of Beast Mode
As usual, “Beast Mode” is often associated with physical activities, although it can also be interpreted as “God Mode”, high level of performance, or getting a boost. In physical setting, you life more than your usual record. If you are used to lift 200kg during your training, then you lifting 250kg may require you to go Beast Mode.
But please allow me to expand its context a bit wider.
In dancing, especially warrior dance, such as Ngajat, Kanjet or even Langgi, you exert all of your effort there, fully-embodying warrior mentality. No limp muscle, but pure flexed muscle, moving with the rhythm. It is even more obvious when you dance with your shield or your sword. Or both.
Or in gaming, Beast mode is when you are on an unbreakable killing-spree, gaining up to Pentakill for League of Legends. It is not easy, but it is doable. In singing, it is when you are able to hit high note in She’s Gone. That is Beast Mode.
In public speaking, you burn or roast someone without even trying. Or charm someone effortlessly. In other words, you got the rizz (shortened of charisma). Not easy to achieve, but doable.
Getting Your Beast Mode
But how to get there? First of all, stay focused and stay committed to your goal. Best is when your goal aligns with your life’s goal.
It has to be in harmony, only then you will acquire peace in life. Obtain relevant skillset that will complement your ultimate goal. E.g. you want to be a good emcee, you need to be a good speaker, public speaking, good command of your voice and being a good singer is a bonus.
Regardless of your definition of “inner beast”, it requires a sacrifice to awaken it. Most of the time, it’s your time, energy and attention.
If you keep on spending your attention elsewhere apart from your goal, it is very unlikely for you to achieve it. That’s why, always be mindful where your attention is.
6. Be Honest With Yourself & Give Your Best Shot
By giving your best shot, you actually avoid from falling into the “what if” trap in the future because you know that you have tried your best, exhaust your options and didn’t leave anything to fate but rather do what you possibly can.
If you are in reservation, you will know.
For example, you like someone, but didn’t confess to that person. Instead, you chose to become coward and just befriend him/her instead. One day, you realised that him/her actually have a girlfriend / boyfriend already. Maybe he/she’s tired of waiting for you, so they just go with whoever that confesses first.
Fortuna Fortis Adiuvat – Fortune Favours the Bold / Brave.Latin Proverb
But you’ll never know unless you try. You have to allow yourself to fail many times before you finally succeed. It is part of the whole journey towards maturity.
There is no difference between those who doesn’t have a gun and those who have a gun, but not using it. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Identify what you want, take aim, then give your best shot.
Even if you are not hitting it the right first time, through the power of iteration, you will get close to your goal with each try. The key thing is to not stop trying.
What I am listing down here is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more to it than meets the eye.
The war for your attention is already beginning. It is inevitable. But the good news is, you still can take back control of your life. What you pay attention to, you will become. Work hard in silence, let success make the noise.
Realise this and you are one step close to accomplish your goal. All the best! Until next time. Bye!
BONUS: SOUND OF FREEDOM
I think this is a great movie, and the best part of it, it is based on true story. Starring Jim Caviezel, the guy who became Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ. Too bad it is not shown in local cinema. Why though?
“When God tells you what to do, you cannot hesitate.”Vampiro, Sound of Freedom