TL;DR – Don’t do it, bro.
Not too long ago, Dr Koh Poh Koon, an MP in the Ang Mo Kio GRC, posted this:
As expected, that post quickly drew criticisms. It is a classic example of how a politician, or anyone for that matter, should NOT use social media. How so? Let us analyse it for you.
Do not use a photo showing you being stupid
This is one of the photos he had used in his Facebook post.
The photo makes netizens wonder if Dr Koh’s not using his brains. There are wheels on the trolley. Why didn’t he just pull the trolley along? Why was he lifting it? Ok. Maybe he was getting ready to go down some steps. Or maybe the trolley’s faulty. Whatever. But most people wouldn’t immediately think about that. The most natural thought in most people’s mind would be, “Eh… got wheels you know… Why you so stupid don’t pull the trolley leh?”
Do not use words that make you out to be the hero
Especially if they’re on your own Facebook profile or page. In the post, Dr Koh said:
“Good thing we ran into her and helped her with the load. Found out that with her bad knees and unsteady gait, she actually fell and had a slight bruise on her forehead just before we came across her.”
“Good thing we ran into her and helped her”? That makes it sound like Dr Koh is desperately trying to claim credit for helping the old lady. That’s just asking for it, particularly given the fact he already has a history of not being too smart with his words. In Singapore, if a politician (especially if you’re from the ruling party) uses those words, you can be sure he or she is sure to kena flamed for being wayang.
And… as expected, many of the comments criticised Dr Koh for being wayang.
Do not lose focus of what you actually want to say
Dr Koh clarified in a later Facebook post that his original intention was to celebrate the actions of the old lady. It’s a very long post, by the way, perhaps too long.
“I shared the post to honor the efforts of Mdm Lim. She could have just waited for the next round of collection at her home by the karung guni, but instead, she chose to bring these items herself and play an active part in this recycling campaign. (And no, we do not pay cash for this). How many with a bad knee at her age would expend this amount of efforts to recycle items ? She did her part for the community and sustained a fall in the process. She wasn’t “exercising”. She made an incredible effort to participate in a community recycling event and I wanted to share her efforts and inspire more to do the same. It is by sharing and encouraging others to also actively do their parts that we can all make our community a better home.”
If that was really what Dr Koh had intended, then Dr Koh’s first post utterly failed to achieve his intentions. Without a doubt, Dr Koh was the focus in the two photos. Not the old lady. In fact, in both photos, the old lady was far in the background. If the intention was to celebrate the old lady’s spirit, shouldn’t she be the focus of the photos? Or at least one of the two photos?
And if the intention was to celebrate the old lady’s spirit, Dr Koh should have started the post stating his admiration for the old lady’s spirit. That should have been the so-called thesis statement of the post. Didn’t anyone teach Dr Koh that each paragraph should start with a thesis statement?
Wouldn’t it be better to start the post with: “We ran into Mdm Lim, a resident of Yio Chu Kang, determined to do her part for the environment”?
Then go on to describe what happened. That would have changed the way the post was framed, and better achieve what Dr Koh intended, assuming that Dr Koh did intend to focus on Mdm Lim in the first place.
Lesson for all
Hopefully this will be a lesson for all of us on how we should and should not use social media. For people who need to use social media to build their personal brand (e.g. our politicians), it is all the more important that they brush up on their skills. Perhaps they can use their SkillsFuture credits for courses like this.