On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

A toast to 2017

Yep, 2016 is drawing to a close. And like some others who want to better themselves in the new year, I have some pointers for myself too. So, here goes ….

MY 10 New Year Resolutions (that will probably be not kept):

No 1: I will not be addicted to my mobile phone anymore

I have a confession to make – I am addicted to my mobile phone. It’s bad enough that I am a news junkie. I am also a phone junkie. I can’t live without this gadget. My wife has always complained that I “play” with my phone all hours of the day.

But I tell her that I am working, not playing. After all, I need to be on the alert. I am ‘on’ 24/7 – the ultimate newsman. I am a news cop – breathing, eating and dreaming news. Cops sleep with their gun under their pillow but I sleep with my Samsung phone right next to me.

Don’t play, play. News is no longer just in the print format but also online, on Twitter and Facebook, in video, on Star TV and radio channels. It’s news, news and more news.

But the wife has thrown in a dampener: Wake up lah, don’t be so drama! You are no longer the group chief editor. Stop bluffing yourself lah. But hey, I am still a journalist. And will always be one.

I am still working in a news media group and I must be on top of things.

Information from all channels comes in fast! A plane hijack, a sinkhole, a murder, an arrest – I love and live for the adrenaline rush!

I can’t just take my eyes off the phone, I will go crazy! If my phone is not with me, it will affect my mental health, which could be worse.

No 2: I won’t spend so much time on Facebook

Oh, I am seriously working on this one. I have no reason to post pictures of what I eat. It’s akin to self-promotion! Speaking of people who are addicted to FB, I cannot understand why some of my FB friends comment (while I totally appreciate it – come on, of course I love immediate responses!) at 1am or 3am! Don’t they sleep? Or do they also sleep with their phones or tablets next to them?

I have decided that in 2017, I will cut down posting pictures of how I spend time bonding with my three girls – erm, my three furry girls, I mean. I have two breathtakingly beautiful Siberian Huskies – Bella and Missy – and an equally gorgeous and intelligent poodle, Paris.

Strangely, these girls seem to get the most “likes” and comments every time I post something about them. It means only one thing: my FB friends are more interested in the lives of my dogs! Obviously not mine!

Why are pictures of my lazy dogs – sometimes sleeping and often in less-than-polite positions (to use a popular Malaysian term, kaki terkangkang) gaining such popularity?

Duh, no more! No more pictures of my pets. My dogs are becoming the BFFs of my BFFs on FB? Hello!

Ok, in 2017, there will be fewer FB postings, less time spent on FB.

There are good reasons too. I am following some friends because I like to see them and their families doing well. FB is a modern way of bonding with friends but hey, some of them are getting into uploading the products they are selling, their work, office mantra and propaganda, and pictures of their colleagues ….

Please, I need advice. Should I unfriend these friends and incur their wrath in the process? I know I could be sending the wrong signal which could cause an unnecessary loss of friendship. As I said, this is the trend now, with social media and all. Where friends are unfriended. I could lose a decades-old friendship because I unfriended them on FB. I can’t do it lah.

No 3: I will spend less time on Twitter

Over the years, despite almost a year of “slumber” on Twitter, I have build a decent number of followers. But my adult daughter says I am “old school”. Why am I wasting time on Twitter, she asks? Only old people who want to look and sound like they are competent in social media use Twitter, she scoffs. To put it bluntly – Twitter is in financial dire straits and its top guys are quitting the company.

It’s a good time to give up this silly bird-sounding thing. I don’t need to be fed this platform. I get unsolicited replies, sometimes from ungrateful followers, which shortens my life by a few seconds. I don’t need it at this age.

Sometimes, I get rebukes from people who don’t even follow my tweets but they hear about my purported offensive tweet from a friend, who heard from another friend. We don’t check, we are Malaysians, you know. We just forward any message and we believe in fake news.

Then again, the biggest user of Twitter is president-elect Donald Trump. He could well be the first US president to issue a decree, policy and decision via Twitter – even before he discusses anything with his Cabinet!

Maybe he does discuss things with his wife, daughter and son-in-law over dinner first and then he tweets.But of course, we’d rather have Trump and his fingers tweeting on his phone than on a nuclear bomb button. Or than his hands on someone else, other than his wife …

For now, I will keep my Twitter account but perhaps spend less time on it next year. I am not sure. Just like Trump or Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, I could change my mind. Whatever my decision, I will tweet about it. And change my mind in a subsequent posting.

No 4: Give up on Instagram

Why would I care what Paris Hilton eats for breakfast? And why would I want to know what the less-than-clear-headed Kanye West is mumbling about today? Then again, I confess – I follow them!

But I have a good reason to do so – as a journalist, I need to know why millions of people around the globe are also following them. True, we should be worried about Aleppo, global warming and its effects on polar bears, the mad radicals blowing themselves up and our shrinking ringgit but instead we are keen to read about Kanye’s declaration that he is running to be the next US president over Instagram. Next president of the Mental Health Institute, perhaps?

I have been told that I need to follow our local celebrities, to be one of their millions of followers. Hello, brother, you must follow them because they are huge, people say.

They will be helpful to you and your work, they say. Ok, so now I have added more names to the list of people I follow.

I read about what one fashion icon is doing with his moustache and why he is always in suits. Another is always in pink and selling her products. Yet another is selling expensive tudung. How do these guys get their millions of followers and in Malaysia alone? It’s an educational trip for me! But l love Lisa Surihani the best. Intelligent and witty.

And of course, Harith Iskandar, do keep uploading pictures – err, of your family.

No 5: Enough of video on demand

I love movies but I can’t seem to find time to go to the cinemas. Catching up on movies on the plane has been one way for me but airlines usually have a selection of old movies – too many movies made long ago. In one film, Bruce Willis still had hair when we all know he is now completely bald. Home Alone and all its sequels – please lah. That boy has gone from being a cutie to another Hollywood mental case.

So now, I am into video on demand. OTT is the buzz word. Over The Top – any content stream on to your gadgets via the Internet. TV is out. OUT in capital letters! The number of people watching video on their mobiles is crazy! Surely you have experienced being ignored by a salesgirl glued to her phone watching some Thai or Korean drama at the Platinum Mall or Chatuchak market in Bangkok. Well, it is happening in Malaysia!

I am not a big fan of the plastic surgery-enhanced characters of Korean dramas. They seem to look and sound the same. But you know, millions of Malaysians love them. But I love Thai horror movies. And here’s an advertising pitch: sign up at dimsum.my, the Star Media Group-owned video on demand service. Download the movies on your tablet and watch them on board.

Maybe I will give up on other service providers peddling old Hollywood movies and have my eyes glued to the drama that is broadcast simultaneously the same day.

No 6: Give up on WhatsApp chat groups

Frankly, I am in so many WhatsApp chat groups that I have lost count. I am confused. And there are many confused friends in the same position. A few male friends accidentally posted obscene pictures in an alumni chat group – which naturally included many women – when they meant to post the pictures in another group chat consisting of all-male whiskey- drinking members. Needless to say, the male administrator of the alumni chat group was forced to kick out these people. How can these hum-sap (“amorous” in Cantonese) guys be kept in our group, the women asked.

Then there is my neighbourhood WhatsApp chat group which was set up to discuss issues concerning uncollected rubbish, water cuts, crime updates, selfish neighbours, runaway maids or maids getting pregnant and the like. But the discussions have turned political – red, yellow or orange. It’s not even a discussion, it’s plain propaganda that’s forwarded without thinking and they assume everyone shares their political allegiance.

With the general election said to be held in 2017, I can imagine how these chat groups will sound – in true Malaysian style. Prayer groups will pray for certain politicians, drinking chat groups will have bottoms up emoticons for certain politicians, alumni chat groups will post pictures of themselves with their favourite self-serving politicians – instead of with their families. It’s the silly season of the general election. Brace for it.

No 7: Give up on Waze

Are we becoming dependent on Waze? It’s hard to focus on our device while we drive – no matter where you place it. But I am hooked on it.

I listen to the voice of AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes telling me where to walk when I am overseas. He’s an idol but it’s frightening. He is everywhere I go. Turn left at 100m, turn right. Next, he tells me everyone can walk with him – with extra charges billed! He tells me where to stop at a pub for a drink and where to get the best food. You know, the AirAsia model.

But I have chosen his voice for personal safety reasons – imagine having a female celebrity’s voice. Wives get jealous for the craziest reasons, you know. I guess the voice of a big aviation boss can’t hurt. It’s an amazing device but we are all addicted.

No 8: Stop sending text messages to someone sitting next to me in the office or at home

I don’t know why but I am so guilty of this!! Not in an addictive way. But it’s crazy. Why do we send a text instead of speaking to a colleague or family member sitting with us in the office or at home?

This MUST stop. It must. Errr. I didn’t see your message. You told me meh? I didn’t see your text. Next time, please text lah. Sheesh, we just can’t win.

No 9: No more social media acronym

I will be 56 years old next year. Some of my friends are dead or dying, many are losing their memory or pretending to be cool when we are not.

It’s hard to keep up with the social media fad. We burn data when we are supposed to be semi-retired or have retired. No one is paying our phone bills.

LOL, LMAO and LMFAO are already so yesterday. There’s really no point in learning more acronym and getting ourselves confused.

#WCW isn’t WongChunWai but Woman Crush Wednesday and #TBT isn’t the latest word connected to lesbian, gay or transgender. It simply means throw back Thursday or an old picture posted on Thursday. Enough is enough. There’s only so much an old, used up brain can absorb.

No 10: The last word on social media

It’s not going to happen. I can’t think of another resolution to end this article no matter how hard I try. I know I won’t be able to keep or intend to keep the previous nine resolutions. So, here are my parting words for now. STAY CONNECTED, no matter where we are!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, stay safe and healthy in 2017!