In sorrow and in joy - social media proves the apt platform

What are the events and stories that gripped - and captivated - Singaporeans most this year

Last week, the Force that ruled the Internet came from a movie galaxy far, far away, and from a time about 40 years ago.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened last Thursday and inspired a slew of tributes online.

Things that went viral included Missouri high school student Kyle Shearrer's ingenious series of photographs (http://str.sg/ZKU8), depicting stormtrooper figurines setting up a Christmas tree, and late night TV host Jimmy Fallon's a cappella rendition of the Star Wars theme with The Roots and the Star Wars cast (http://str.sg/ZKUE ).

Singaporean fans contributed a couple of impressive videos too.

Musician Nelson Tan Yan Cong demonstrated mean chops with the otamatone, a musical toy invented by quirky Japanese band Maywa Denki. In his YouTube video (http://str.sg/ZKUX ), he plays the Star Wars themes on this rather dinky instrument to comic, and surprisingly musical, effect.


  • Beethoven's 245th birthday was celebrated on Google with an interactive game and an animated sequence.

  • GOOGLE DOODLES: Two wildly popular Google Doodles last week topped the Google searches. On Monday, it was yoga master BKS Iyengar, on his 97th birthday, who ruled, and on Thursday, what would have been Beethoven's 245th birthday was celebrated with an interactive game which required users to arrange his most famous works before they could watch an animated sequence.

    MUSIC MANIA: Top Twitter hashtags last week were music-related. One Direction's last performance on The X Factor before it

    took a break inspired #ThisIsNotTheEndOfOneDirection. Australian band 5 Seconds Of Summer

    trended with #JetBlackHeartMusicVideo and Ariana Grande caused a sensation when she released an EP #ChristmasAndChill.

    #EXPLAINAFILMPLOTBADLY: Occasionally, inexplicable hashtags will trend.

    Last week's #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly threw up some rather entertaining tweets. A sample: Older sister ruins younger sister's chance to be on nationally televised game show. (The Hunger Games)

Equally impressive is fanboy Livan Goh's remix of the movie trailer. Taking the soundtrack and the special effects from the original trailer, he adds Singapore backdrops, such as the Marina Bay Sands skyline, to various scenes. He also took on a lightsaber duel in his Vimeo video (http://str.sg/ZKUD ).


With the year's end looming, the inevitable look back has begun. The Straits Times has been especially active on social media this year, and readers have responded by coming to our social media accounts to comment and share.

The Straits Times Facebook page especially offers a revealing snapshot of the stories Singaporeans are most interested in. The most popular posts were on the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in March.

In the No. 1 spot was photographer Ong Wee Jin's hyperlapse video of the long and winding queue of people waiting to pay their respects to Mr Lee as his body lay in state at Parliament House. The video clocked up more than 1.08 million views in a Facebook post that reached more than three million people.

Posts about eulogies by Mr Lee's children - Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling - were also widely shared and read, as Singaporeans took to social media to express their grief.

Star Wars fanboy Livan Goh took the soundtrack and special effects from the original trailer of The Force Awakens and added Singapore backdrops to various scenes. PHOTO: ST DIGITAL

Other posts which proved popular with Singaporeans ranged from the quirky to the heartwarming. In the former category was a post about fake Milo being found in Malaysia and how Nestle was teaching customers to spot the fake packaging. Singaporeans, it seems, take their Milo very seriously indeed.

Falling very firmly into the heartwarming category were two viral posts about foreign workers. One told the story of van driver Panneerselvam Kulothungan who waited an hour for the owner of a car he had accidentally grazed with his vehicle. He later left his contact details on a note with an offer of compensation.

The other post showed a dramatic photograph of Mr Subramaniam Shanmuganathan scrambling up to the second floor of an HDB block to rescue a baby stuck between railings. Mr Shanmuganathan and his colleague Ponnan Muthukumar were given Public Spiritedness awards by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Another post which went viral featured a video of the bomb which exploded at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine in August, killing 20 people, including a Singaporean, and injuring dozens. The attack evidently hit close to home for readers for whom Bangkok is a popular destination and Erawan Shrine a familiar landmark.

From this overview, it is evident that social media resonates best when the topics are close to the hearts of Singaporeans, whether it is national mourning, or celebrating the best of the human spirit. And Facebook has also become a vital platform for readers, for finding out and disseminating news that matters to them.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'What'sTrending In sorrow and in joy - social media proves the apt platform'. Print Edition | Subscribe