Beautiful Stripes: Who To Believe – Experts Or Social Media?

Beautiful Stripes: Who To Believe – Experts Or Social Media?

I’ve been lied to all my life.

Recently, a review by Cochrane Library – a non-profit, non-government organisation formed to organise medical research – has found omega-3 fish oils to make “little or no difference” to protecting heart health, reported The Telegraph.

Elsewhere, seen recently on The Guardian: “Coconut oil is pure poison, says Harvard professor” and “No healthy level of alcohol consumption is healthy”.

Now they tell us it was all a waste of time and money?

Ever since I could swallow, my mother has made me take cod liver oil supplements, and those were the days before flavoured cod liver oil was popular, mind you. You can imagine what a horrifying childhood I had.

Later, when gel-covered pill versions were sold, we dutifully bought them by the bottles, believing that it could build up immunity, stave off colds and flu, and basically, make you healthy, wealthy and wise.

Yes, fish oil is no magic bullet, but most of us don’t follow healthy diets anyway. I’m convinced that all the fish oil I’ve downed all these years had something to do with me hardly falling sick, so I’m sticking to my supplements, thank you.

The thing is, there is no definitive guidebook to living smart. One day, the latest report say this and the next, the complete opposite is true.

Cod liver oil supplements were the bane of the writer’s childhood.

Who should we believe or listen to anyway? More importantly, what are our lifestyle habits and thought trends influenced by?

Do we live by what the “experts” and “study results” tell us since they sound more intelligent, or do we swing according to what social media says?

I firmly believe in evidence-based research and checking sources before buying into a story, and even then it takes a lot before I buy it wholesale.

That being said, there’s probably eight out of 10 netizens out there who will readily buy and react to what the “influencer” of the day is selling.

According to Vivek Misra in an article on www.mumbrella.asia, four out of five marketeers believe influencers to be effective outreach tools.

As it is, prospective influencers are being groomed by companies and people are taking notice of micro-influencers with specific niche audiences as well.

Coconut oil is now supposedly bad for health – who do we believe?

Apart from issues such as how much to allocate, what formula to follow and how to go about marketing a brand or trend, there is the bigger unresolved problem of fraud, fake accounts and credibility, which everyone is aware of but seems to be quietly ignoring.

At some point, there has to be some kind of tool to accurately detect fraudulent accounts and fake ROI, and perhaps, even a regulatory body set up, suggests the story.

Personally, however, my biggest beef lies with the term “influencer” itself and interestingly, during a discussion at the Travel Marketing Summit in Singapore by Mumbrella Asia, Facebook Asia-Pacific’s head of agency called “for social media influencers to stop using the descriptor unless they can prove they have actually influenced something”.

Neil Stewart argued that the term “influencer” was sometimes misleading when used for people on social media who just had “some friends and followers”. In fact, he went so far as to suggest that “Z-list celebrities” would be a more appropriate description.

“To be an influencer, you must have influenced something. I don’t necessarily think that’s true for a lot of influencers. There are plenty of ‘influencers’ who have friends, followers; they have a blog and people who see their content. But until you can prove that they have ‘influenced’ – changed behaviour, an attitude or an action – I think we could almost sue them for using a false or misleading description,” he was quoted as saying.

In response, chief strategist of social media marketing agency Socialites Rochelle Sheldon writes back in defence of the term, saying the majority of those labelled as influencers are “very hard-working, successful creatives with a unique point of view and, because of it, have gained a following of like-minded people”.

“They inspire their followers … They resonate with their stories, and yes, sometimes they even buy stuff recommended to them. And that, is influence,” he said, adding that many influencers themselves hate the word as “it diminishes them”.

Looking for a familiar face in Crazy Rich Asians? Did you spot Malaysian actress Carmen Soo? Photo: AFP

Frankly, I wish brands and companies would get back to the real business of selling. All these supposed subtle campaigns, subliminal messages and image aspirations. Consumers are now a lot more savvy and information-hungry, and it might prove to be more effective to cut to the chase and try something revolutionary. You know, like, talk about the product directly?

While still heavily under the influence of social media, I devoured every morsel of news I could get on Crazy Rich Asians. That was my undoing as all that hype and insider information gave me a certain expectation and made me overly critical of the movie.

I found it enjoyable, yes, but nothing as ground-breaking or as glowing as reviews made it out to be. (OK, I know I stand in danger of being lynched by adoring fans.)

I need to watch it again with an open mind. Without looking out for Carmen Soo, or trying to understand Carcosa’s transformation at Carcosa or analysing the mahjong game.

It’s a good old-fashion love story. Some things should just be taken at face value without reading too much between the lines …


Patsy is neither young nor does she have millions of followers so she’s sticking to her day job. Share your thoughts with star2@thestar.com.my

This content was originally published here.

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