Raising the bar when a game gets out of hand

Jarring image of a void deck peppered with metal railings hits a nerve among netizens


Contrary to what the name suggests, void decks are not always empty.

From people playing chess, and parents letting their young children run around, to weddings and funerals, these public spaces are more often than not busy with activity.

It is little wonder then that a jarring image of an empty void deck peppered with metal railings trended last week.

The picture, taken at an HDB block in Queenstown, had this accompanying caption: "Originally filled with so much potential for use and creativity, this void deck is now effectively transformed into a dead space."

Facebook has unveiled a slew of options for the picky user, including “Haha”, “Wow”, “Sad”, “Love”, and “Angry”, which is as close to a dislike button as one can get. The tech giant had said earlier that it wanted to provide users with more authentic ways of responding to posts. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO

Ms Talia Jane lost all sympathy when photos emerged of her going for beauty treatments and buying high-end alcohol. PHOTO: THATSALOTOFRICE.COM



    This hashtag is surging in popularity on China's Weibo platform. Thousands of people have used it to post images of what they think captures the loneliness of everyday life. 


    Netizens have been making fun of terror group ISIS after claims that the militants faked footage of battles in their videos using Vimto, a red-coloured soft drink, as blood.


    It's the Year of the Monkey, and the Internet has seen a rise in the number of cute images of the pygmy marmosets, also known affectionately as "thumb monkeys", purchased by China's wealthy elite. Primate scientists warned against this growing trend.

A spokesman for the town council said the bars were installed after it received complaints about football being played there.

This unrelenting passion for the Beautiful Game has also resulted in dirty walls and damaged light fittings. "The situation must have gotten quite out of hand for the town council to have acted," said one Facebook user.

Going by most of the responses, however, it is clear that the picture had hit a nerve, and that the town council's reasoning was not convincing enough.

Full-time DJ William Goh, 45, combined the original photo with pictures of a bench with permanent arm rests and a deck ceiling that appears to be adorned with spikes. "Gone are the days when kids could play anywhere," he said in a post. "There are restrictions everywhere in Singapore."

The permanent arm rests, for example, effectively drove away people who slept under a Circuit Road block at night, he said.

"The resources could have been used to tackle the root cause of the issue," said Mr Goh. "Banning or restricting things should not be the go-to solution."

Mr Goh, who currently resides in Canada, compared the railings and their ilk to other forms of "defensive urban architecture" seen around the world.

Britain has alarms which emit frequencies that only teenagers can hear in order to prevent loitering, New York has anti-sit devices installed on objects like fire hydrants, and China has pay-per-minute benches.

There was also considerable social media backlash when many of these devices or measures were first unveiled. "People need to take a stand if they feel things aren't right. They also need to be more accommodating towards other groups and complain less," Mr Goh said.

As with any online trend, it also didn't take long before the memes surfaced. Some netizens poked fun at the situation, suggesting that the rails could be used to park bicycles and to hang clothes.

Said one user: "This will be great for parkour, or as new goal posts for void deck soccer!"


Not everything on your News Feed is "likeable" and Facebook has finally unveiled a slew of options for the picky user.

The new reactions released last week include "Haha", "Wow", "Sad", "Love", and "Angry", which is as close to a dislike button as one can get. The tech giant had earlier said it had wanted to give users more authentic ways in which to respond to posts.

Here's an example: A post on The Straits Times' Facebook page on Friday about local actress Rebecca Lim's apology following her ill-conceived publicity stunt garnered 10 times the number of "Angry" responses than, say, a story about a good Samaritan who was bequeathed a flat by a generous friend which was posted about the same time.

Some sceptics, however, believe this move is but another way for Facebook to learn more about user behaviour, and keep users glued to their News Feed for longer.

"We will initially use any reaction similar to a "Like" to infer that you want to see more of that type of content," said Facebook product manager Sammi Krug. "Over time we hope to learn how the different reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see."

This means that it is only a matter of time before Facebook uses the data gathered from using the new emojis to alter your News Feed, and ads served to you, accordingly.

"For Facebook to compete with Snapchat and Twitter, it needs to water their algorithms with something better, and your emotions are superfood," said Jack Smith IV, a reporter for media company Mic.


An impassioned letter from a 25-year-old last week has sparked a debate on the sense of entitlement among millennials.

Ms Talia Jane, 25, had been working for online food delivery service Eat24 when she penned the letter addressed to Yelp chief Jeremy Stoppelman. The grievances she aired included not being able to afford public transport to work, and having to forgo using the heater in her flat as her gas and electricity bill was high.

She also claimed that she made just $2,000 a month, and had to "pick coins on the street" and drink a litre of water before bed so she wouldn't have hunger pangs.

Hours after her letter went viral, she posted an update to the letter, saying she was "officially let go" by the company. 

Ms Jane initially received a wave of support from those sympathetic towards her plight. One stranger even set up a crowdfunding campaign to "help her eat".

But the tide soon turned when netizens started uncovering photos and tweets from her social media accounts, which seemed to contradict the charges laid out in her original letter. A website created to showcase her "struggle" (www.thatsalotofrice.com) showed photos of her going for beauty treatments, eating good food and buying high-end alcohol.

The debacle also provoked responses from fellow millennials.

"Trust me when I say, there are far more embarrassing things in life than washing dishes or serving burgers," said 29-year-old Stefanie Williams. "And one of them, without one shred of doubt, is displaying your complete lack of work ethic in public by asking for handouts because you refuse to actually do work at the ripe old age of 25."


Should void decks be left empty? http://str.sg/ZyxG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'What'sTrending Raising the bar when a game gets out of hand'. Print Edition | Subscribe