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Be like Bill... stand united in defiance of Jakarta terror

Pak Jamal going about his business selling satay just hours after the terror attacks in Jakarta. "Fear is not in our dictionary," reads part of the caption accompanying the photo on social media. The Powerball pandemonium that has swept across the US
The Powerball pandemonium that has swept across the US gave rise to some interesting and provocative posts on social media, including one from a Facebook user, Eric France (above), who promised $5,000 to all those who liked and shared his photo.PHOTO: ADINDAAKSARI/TWITTER PHOTO: ERIC FRANCE/FACEBOOK
Pak Jamal going about his business selling satay just hours after the terror attacks in Jakarta. "Fear is not in our dictionary," reads part of the caption accompanying the photo on social media. The Powerball pandemonium that has swept across the US
The social media-savvy Singapore Civil Defence Force has been quick to jump on the “Bill” bandwagon. PHOTO: SCDF/FACEBOOK
Pak Jamal going about his business selling satay just hours after the terror attacks in Jakarta. "Fear is not in our dictionary," reads part of the caption accompanying the photo on social media. The Powerball pandemonium that has swept across the US
Pak Jamal going about his business selling satay just hours after the terror attacks in Jakarta. “Fear is not in our dictionary,” reads part of the caption accompanying the photo on social media. PHOTO: ADINDA AKSARI/TWITTER

Death casts its shadow over a week that drew out the oddballs as well as the mischievous

BE LIKE BILL

Have you met Bill? The stick figure, depicted in a Web comic format, has been making the rounds online dispensing sarcastic pearls of wisdom.

Bill, through his dry, satirical humour, advocates "smart" behaviour. One popular post, shared more than 75,000 times, reads: "Bill wakes up and sees it's snowing outside. Bill doesn't feel the urge to post a status about it on Facebook because he knows his friends also have windows.

"Bill is smart. Be like Bill."

The stick figure first appeared on forums like Reddit late last year.

The simplicity of a "Bill" image means anyone with decent hand-eye coordination and basic image-editing software can produce one of their own. Needless to say, the meme has taken off.

  • NOTABLE  TRENDS

  • DAVID BOWIE: The music icon's death early last week took the world by surprise. Tributes continue to pour in even as his latest album, released just days before he died, dominated the charts. A Belgian observatory has registered seven stars in the shape of a lightning bolt in his honour, while a petition has been launched to rename a street in Glasgow the Thin White Duke after one of his personas.

  • ALAN RICKMAN: Alan Rickman, known for his roles in Harry Potter and Die Hard, died a few days after Bowie, of cancer. Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe penned a touching tribute to the British actor: "Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career."

  • #OSCARSSOWHITE: The hashtag trended last week once it was revealed that all 20 nominees for the lead and supporting actor and actress Oscars were white.

His "official" Facebook page, which relies on user contributions, started about a week ago. It now has more than a million "likes".

Some local organisations have been quick on the uptake.

"Bill sees a fire engine in his rear view mirror. Bill gives way to the fire engine... Be like Bill," says a post by the social media-savvy Singapore Civil Defence Force.

"Bill pays for his Chinese New Year goodies instead of stealing them. Bill is smart," says another image by the Sengkang Neighbourhood Police Centre.

These two posts, shared by thousands of users, are yet another indicator that capitalising on social media trends works wonders in pushing out a message, if executed well.

But the Internet is a fickle beast. It remains to be seen whether we will glimpse more of Bill's acerbic wit in the coming months.

POWERBALL WINNER THAT WASN'T

The Powerball pandemonium that has swept across the United States has lured some interesting characters out of the woodwork.

Three winning tickets for the record US$1.6 billion (S$2.3 billion) draw have been sold, reports say.

The problem is that not all the official winners have stepped forward to claim their share.

Enter professional skateboarder Erik Bragg, who unabashedly claimed to be a lottery winner on his Instagram account (Username: thisguysthelimit, his bio reads: The world is my toilet).

Brandishing a ticket that seems to have all the right numbers, he exclaims: "Omg I won! I'm posting this in case anyone tries to jack me. This is proof."

The post has attracted 126,000 likes and more than 90,000 comments.

He also tweeted that he would give away some of his winnings to every person who retweets him.

Naturally, netizens were sceptical.

On Reddit, many users pointed out inconsistencies in the numbers and letters of the alphabet in the winning ticket, which suggest the photo might have been doctored.

Bragg's antics are but one of the many bizarre stories to have emerged amid the lottery fever.

A crowdfunding effort was put up by a family who said they had spent their life savings betting, unsuccessfully, on the draw.

One rapper promised to split his winnings with girls who messaged him.

A Facebook user, Eric France, promised $5,000 to all those who liked and shared his photo.

And, in a prank gone wrong, a 62-year-old nurse was duped by her son into believing she held the winning ticket. She completed her shift and celebrated with colleagues before the crushing truth was revealed.

DEFIANCE IN THE FACE OF TERROR

People around the world flocked to social media in a show of support in the aftermath of the Jakarta bombings last Thursday.

The hashtag #JakartaBlasts was one of the first trends on Twitter.

Users on the ground shared photos of the carnage and updated their accounts frequently with new information.

But that soon gave way to hashtags #PrayForJakarta and #KamiTidakTakut or "We are not afraid", as people reacted to the terror attacks.

One of the iconic photos that had cropped up in the tragedy shows an elderly satay seller apparently selling his food items a mere two hours after the attack happened.

"This guy still grills his satay and people keep ordering. ..You can't terror (sic) Jakarta... Fear is not in our dictionary," reads the accompanying quote.

The man, identified as Pak Jamal by Malaysian news agencies, has reportedly been selling satay since 1974. "I'll leave it to fate, and hope for the best," he reportedly said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 17, 2016, with the headline 'What'sTrending Be like Bill... stand united in defiance of Jakarta terror'. Print Edition | Subscribe