March 25, 2019

Talking about tipping points is like waking up at 1 A.M. on Saturday morning, feeling like vomiting at the sight of markets and cutting losses on positions before going back to bed.

That was the experience of a friend on the matter because the other tipping points could have been the crazy U-turns by central banks, the US yield curve inversion, economic numbers plunging off the cliff or the largest ever monthly US budget deficit.

Sometimes it is impossible to pinpoint exactly the moment we give up on something like Lazada or Redmart or Deliveroo, but it is likely a confluence of factors built up over time.

For an early adopter like ourselves, Qoo10 was the first to go because of our endless frustration in dealing with the complexities of the stamps, coins, coupon codes until an attempt to buy a “time” sale product went awry for us to pay full price on it. From then, it was a total boycott and no amount of spam mails could get us back and we were sold on Lazada’s Live Up program, complete with 2 months of Netflix subscriptions and Redmart discounts.

Foodpanda was a quick decision after ordering mooncakes that never arrived and not realising the order had been rejected because there was no pop-up box saying so. From then, it was Deliveroo until the promos ended and it felt like a massive extravagance to buy a nice 12 dollar dinner but pay 5 dollars for delivery and we decided we should just hunt for something easier to access on foot.

Of late, even Lazada and Redmart have become an emotional strain especially after we make an order before opening our mailbox to find an 8 dollar coupon code we missed, that we could have used. And that is possibly our defining moment that we are almost through with this entire sharing economy business.

Are Lazada or Redmart trying to “train” us to spend our entire time hunting for coupon codes and constantly check our emails?

Do they really have our interests at heart?  If they were truly sincere about those savings and discounts, would it not be easier to just dock it off the final tab instead of wasting our precious time browsing for infuriating store codes, remembering credit card codes and trying to mix and match combination purchases that is enough for us to put the foot down and ask ourselves if we really need another new pair of sneakers or feel really cheated if we do not buy 2?

We had enough of Grab and GrabPay and all the other apps to get a dollar off this or that. Once we swear off those gimmicks, it puts us in a better state of mind because we do not really need to drink that Starbucks (or queue for that Starbucks) just because it is $4.5 instead of $6, only if you use XX-Pay.

Blame us not for swearing off the sharing economy after oBike went bust last year, but the blind emotional and psychological slavery to those “deals” has managed to drive a dear friend of ours back to the aisles of a much less crowded Cold Storage these days for a less stressful shopping experience and drive down to Takashimaya to pick up what she really needs.

It is just like giving up Facebook yet not deleting Facebook and all the other social media accounts we have, including Pinterest which counts us as a user even if we have only used it once. What’s more, I’m not sure how we go about deleting that darn account.

Facebook has gone rogue, these days, for us to use the site once a week at most. It’s been on regular spam mode with 5 restaurant ads per session which we suspect has everything to do with viewing some street food videos on YouTube, just as friends are reporting that they are blocked out of viewing anything but wine-related because of their viewing activity. That actually leaves us with fewer friends than we would like to be in touch with but far from sight and far from mind.

Nonetheless, counting the number of logins we have, a notebook-full of login name and passwords, we have at least 100 logins which includes the 6 emails active email accounts, 1 specifically dedicated to online transactions, and excludes the dormant email accounts, of which we have lost the passwords to and thus, cannot delete.

We shake our heads in certain despair, as the burden to keep up with various accounts with all the “freebies” and “cheap deals” they are offering, as they continue to use us as a statistic.

So Facebook has 2.7 billion users, which include the 2 accounts we have, our friend’s deceased mother and deceased close buddy, too.

We can say we have had it with all this, especially after our experience a few months ago with food porn, and the Instagrammable photo of that vegan jackfruit burger that got us to this Food Rebel place where the burger glided down our throats like slime.

And now Facebook is being accused of exploiting all our data to influence elections, restaurant ideas (in our case), spreading hate and terrorism by being late to delete Christchurch massacre videos while banning Zerohedge and carelessly storing 600,000 user passwords in text form.

Limits down, please, for Facebook and all social media or the sharing economy represents.

As Serena Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, says, we are at peak social media, where “platforms that are built around following individual persons sort of have reached their saturation point”.

“We’re seeing more and more people retreat back to smaller communities or groups, whether it’s a group chat of all your college friends or whether it’s going to communities”.

None too alarming as an outcome, really, for alienated Facebook users like ourselves who loathe deleting the deceased mother’s account or our own until we find an alternative or a back-up for those memories that are stored there even as we are aware that Facebook has proprietary rights over those memories and photos.

But they are coming for Facebook, both from the left and right.

“Conservatives and the left are realising it’s not good or healthy for the economy to have all the power vested in essentially in a few large monopolies” or social influencers or even, Amazon, because “Facebook’s plan to stitch together the chat tools on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram while encrypting messages addresses criticism that the company flouts privacy concerns….At the same time, the more integrated the company’s different businesses, the harder it might be for regulators to prise them apart.”

This is even as Facebook is meddling with the Indian elections, or so it seems as India’s parliamentary panel wants Facebook to “curb fake news” ahead of their elections whilst Whatsapp continues to be the platform for the “cow vigilantes” and mob lynching’s.

Yet, we all know that social media is far from dead.

Esports gamers and social media influencers (on Twitch) like “Ninja”, made millions promoting the recent winner for Electronic Arts (EA US), Apex Legends, that managed to dethrone top game, Fortnite, this month.

We would like to think that it would not happen to us because we are smart but it is pretty much unavoidable because we do not “search” but we “Google” the Internet these days, giving Google all the power to influence our minds. For indeed, Google did manipulate YouTube search results to user behaviour.

“Deleting Facebook” can be a movement de jour, and we are certainly deleting Facebook from our portfolios even if we cannot bear to delete those accounts.

But we have 3 or 4 unicorns and their IPO’s coming up, namely, Pinterest, Lyft, Uber and Zoom, with Pinterest stuck onto Google algorithms and Amazon’s cloud services, and counting us as a user even if we have forgotten our passwords after registering for an account.

The future portends to be more threatening as we can envisage an outcome of governments sequestering or sequestrating social media platforms in the name of national security, creating totalitarian regimes etc.

This is as much as we have to honestly say about the sharing economy and social media because we do not want to get started on the overabundant fluff in Fintech.