Waxing lyrical about listicles

Top three things women with oily skin shouldn't do - put on thick makeup.

And just like that, it’s another new year and the first month is almost over.

Things got off to a sombre start, having just said farewell to a good friend and fellow editor Elaine who lost the battle to cancer on Christmas day. Being in the same industry, her passing was all the more poignant as it was a grim reminder that those of us in media are just as frail as the next person, and that pain and loss doesn’t discriminate.

Given how the price of oil worldwide is taking a beating, business reports predict Malaysia will be facing a fragile economy this year, especially in view of the weakening ringgit and the outflow of foreign funds.

It’s going to be tough going ahead and we may have to brace ourselves for a change in lifestyle, perhaps even jobs or relationships, as those we count as friends drop off the list for whatever reasons.

They say the only constant is change, and sometimes, instead of being resigned to fate, the only way to tackle change is to face it head on, or better yet, be the one responsible for it.

My friend John feels that staying still is akin to sliding backwards, and he firmly believes doing something is better than doing nothing; that a quick bad decision is better off than no decision at all.

Sometimes though, by not doing anything and riding the tide, that in itself could be deemed a decision in the making.

Moving on to something more upbeat – I find it amusing how we’re all taken up with mindless listicles which often holds very little factual truth. (Why does that word always remind me of something else that starts with “t”?)

You can go online to learn “top 10 things Malaysians wasted their money on in 2015”, “10 easy ways to lose weight” (to which some smart aleck responded, “The only way green tea will help me lose weight is if I pick them myself”), “three things women with oily skin should never do”, “five foods never to eat”, “how to motivate yourself in 10 easy steps” and so forth.

A particular list I saw on thetravelmanuel.com recently caught my eye: “five reasons why Malaysia has the worst toilets in the world”. What a hoot, and sadly, absolutely true.

Just goes to show how our attention span has dwindled down to about the same time it takes to finish a cup of latte. To read anything beyond a page is challenging, and that figures why I find myself struggling to finish a book these days.

One of the top 10 things Malaysians wasted their money on in 2015: Expensive coffee.
One of the top 10 things Malaysians wasted their money on in 2015: Expensive coffee.

Apparently, a recent study by Microsoft has discovered that our obsession with smartphones have left us with the attention span of eight seconds; that’s four seconds shorter than in 2000, when it seems we were able to concentrate without getting distracted for at least 12 seconds. But, it appears our ability to multitask has increased, and no wonder, given how we can split screens, answer calls and check Waze while driving all at the same time.

Which is probably the reason why so many of our kids (and often our partners too) are absent even though they are physically in front of us. Many a relationship has gone down the drain while the other person still has his or her face stuck onscreen.

I confess I’m just as guilty in getting wrapped up over such lists – cutting things down to bite-size info is so much easier to digest. Although some of them are nonsensical, they still make for a good laugh.

The fact that I know some of them, also shows you how much I’m digitally attached. It’s a job hazard, and sometimes I wish I could just switch everything off and not be affected by social media. But the irony is, I find myself suffering from withdrawal symptoms, reaching out for my phone in case I’ve missed a call from my boss or the latest updates on the American blizzards or the latest in the restaurant scene.

Once in a while, you do come across a gem which makes you nod in agreement or gives you sensible advice worth heeding.

For example, seen on “20 absolutely vital pieces of advice from people over 60” is this life truth: “People always say make sure you get a job doing what you love. But that isn’t the best advice. The right job is the job you love some days, can tolerate most days, and still pays the bills. Almost nobody has a job they love every day.”

For a lark, here’s a list on life the way I see it:

1. Ageing gracefully is an art and inner beauty trumps skin-deep beauty. But heck, I’m not going down without a fight. Someone’s got to keep the beauty industry going.

2. Exercise and eat healthy, yes, but let’s not make ourselves miserable in the process. I don’t want my last meal to be a stick of carrot.

3. Give your best when you’re at work, but don’t kill yourself while you’re at it. No one ever regretted not putting in more hours on the job when they’re about to die, and your family and loved ones won’t thank you for it. Makes more sense to build on those relationships instead.

As the lunar new year approaches, here’s wishing you happy, peaceful and kinder days ahead as our tumultuous world is so uncertain these days.


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