The Ageing Politician’s Guide to Trying Too Hard on Social Media
Nearly three decades ago, you were a Deputy Prime Minister in the running to be Prime Minister, implemented positive changes to our education policies, and represented Singapore in several international meetings.
Now, you are the poster child for active ageing, lifelong learning, and desperation. All at once.
To avoid missteps in your foray into Facebook, bookmark this guide: The 10 Commandments of Being an Ageing Politician on Social Media. Whether you become the next ESM Goh Chok Tong, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, or Tan Kin Lian, that’s entirely up to you.
You may be tempted to get on Instagram and Twitter. Don’t, unless you have three different messages to share across all three platforms. Nothing smacks of social media incompetence more than a Twitter account that only parrots what’s already said on your Facebook page.
If you do it right, it will be “fun” to stay in touch with what’s happening on the ground. You will come across as “down to earth” and continue to “appeal to the masses”
2. You shall not misuse your public platform.
Your public Facebook page is not a WhatsApp group chat. Passive aggressive hints to prompt the 4G leadership to decide who shall become the next Prime Minister are trying too hard. You are a respected politician, not an Instagram thirst trap.
Remind them (and the nation) of your power and existence by doing this in Parliament instead.
3. Remember the power of public interest by keeping it chill.
Post selectively and succinctly. People will be naturally interested in the progress of your public court case and your participation in a sit-in protest, but not if it’s an 800-word update in two languages. To appear approachable, you will also be tempted to post memes once you understand what they are.
Millennials have a word for this behaviour: ‘extra’.
Once your political party has been in power for more than 30 years, name your social media handle after your constituency. Don’t worry about this being presumptuous. In any case, you’ve been with these people since the start and they love you.
All 64.1% of them.
5. You shall not murder logic and common sense.
Do not ask your followers to vote in your self-made poll. Do not call your self-made poll ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’. Do not assume any replies you get are remotely wise. Most importantly, do not attempt to imply that the approximately 23 responses represent the entire country.
It is barely a crowd
6. You shall not commit more than four replies to every comment section.
You will be tempted to reply to someone who blames the government for the floods, and another person who tells you to solve the MRT breakdowns. They don’t register that you are neither God nor the transport minister, so you shall not register their comment.
Pick your battles. You will appear humble when personally engaging with the masses, while also checking off your social media KPI for the week.
7. You shall not steal the thunder from another man’s achievement.
When an MP in your team is appointed Speaker of Parliament, resist writing about how you are happy that he will continue to serve your constituency. You may be very proud of your social media handle, but pick another time and place to show it.
Remember that millennials have a word for this kind of behaviour: ‘extra’.
8. You shall not bear false news.
Simplistic arguments about the MRT operating system and sweeping statements like “things are falling apart” belong in your diary. You want people to take you seriously if you decide to run for President one day. You’re not even sure they did when you were a CEO.
You figure you need to post another ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ poll to seem more intelligent. Don’t do it.
One day after a 10-minute walk at Bedok reservoir when you’re bombarded by irritating fans wielding selfie sticks, you will remember that well-loved and respected ex-political leaders, such as Professor Tommy Koh and Chiam See Tong, have little to no Facebook presence. They have not had a chance to tarnish the legacy they’ve built.
Brush off the envy by posting a photo of your attendance at a kindergarten graduation ceremony.
10. You shall not covet another man’s personal brand.
Realise that envy is unbecoming of a 70-year-old man. You will continue your own legacy by highlighting your possible role in future politics.
You may share a photo you took with your fans at Bedok reservoir. (Ensure it contains members of each racial group.) You may also make a self-deprecating joke about your selfie skills.
Proceed to wait for the masses to say you are so “relatable”.