Mscheng’s back, and so’s the smartphone!

Howdy!

Well,  this is awkward… as we haven’t talked for so long. You may have swept me under the rug, or never even noticed that Mschengcorner was inactive for the last two years. It’s all fine, friends. We have our lives to live, and my life took such a turning point that my self-engrossed tendency to write for this blog has faded to almost nothingness.

But of course, like any true love, it is always burning at the back of my heart, waiting for the right moment to be rekindled. I guess the moment is right now! I’m more stable in  my other website, kinda learned the ropes of things, do not have a party-life going on any longer, and have a click-bait worthy title of getting a smart-phone back! This moment certainly is a magically perfect one to make a come back!

A bit of update about the blog

As many of you may have heard, I’ve been absent from Mschengcorner, but not from blogging entirely. For the past year, I’ve been writing almost one article per week for the great echoing chamber that is the internet on Wapatoa.com, my life and blood, my baby boy (or girl or them if the website chooses to identify as that later on).

For the big part of 2017 and 2018, apart from tangling my brain with partnership appointments, coming up with catchy titles for blogs, choosing what emojis to use for captions and getting mju into the office without getting caught, I was also struggling to see how I could write for both Wapatoa and Mschengcorner without getting everything mixed up. They are both my children of blood and finger sweats, but I must distinguish them somehow…

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From Visual Music(k)al

This objective took me a whole year, but I’ve found it! Before this change, Mschengcorner was a place where both sides of myself was laid out: A. The methodical, scientific side that reads research and books and share the knowledge and B. The goofy, petty side that spurs out lame jokes and gets very intimate at 1AM.

Naturally, Wapatoa.com is a more public, and specific website aimed to helping people become better. It’s not about Cheng (I mean, there’s no Cheng in the title). Wapatoa.com is for the people, so I’ll devote the “A” side of myself to it: the rational, information but still a bit goofy friend who just wants to help you get better.

PRIMARY

The petty, jealous, extremely personal “B” side of life? I’ll leave it all to here! So get ready, bitches, Cheng is back!

On a sidenote, Wapatoa.com is very cautious with the pictures we use on our articles, but well, here at Mscheng I just choose whatever Tumblr image that fits the mood! This will continue to be so, if you don’t like that, sue me! (That was just a farce. Please don’t sue me, I’m poor.) But I’m serious, Mschengcorner is for my personal enjoyment, so I’ll continue to use pictures that are easy to find and fit the mood! Maybe I’ll take up smartphone photography and supply my own pics, eh? We’ll see how this goes!

Therefore, please head on to Wapatoa.com for wholesome, self-improvement and artistic gimmicks and do not forget to head back here for some intimate, self-deprecating jokes! For once, you can have the best of both world!

A bit of update about Cheng’s phone

Now to the real meat of the article, the return of the forbidden phone. For better or for worse, I’ve parted with my dear old Nokia phone after 3.5 years (or was it 4 years?) of relationship. Why so? Many things have happened, the biggest of all, loneliness.

Yes, yes. I’m lonely.
Life as a graduated adult is not all partying glamor and rolling on money as it seemed. When I was in school, surrounded by 20+ friends all the time, it was easy to cut off social media and chatting apps altogether. I could just wait the night to tell them the next day. It was like highschool, but with drinking permits.

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From Go Flores Go

But everything changed when we graduated.
Now, everyone is busy with their work (as they rightfully are so). I am also busy with running Wapatoa as a startup. When we don’t frequently keep in touch online, it’s easy to go on a whole week without having any fun social interactions except for work and meetings and more work.

I must admit, I was miserable for the past few months and didn’t even know what the cause was, until I went to Thailand with a borrowed phone from my sister to keep me from getting lost till I die of some horribly funny mishaps.

For that one week, I got access to my friends back in Phnom Penh, access to google maps (a literal life savior) and most importantly, to meme hashtags on Tumblr and Reddit. My life was bright again, fun seemed to ooze out of the phone and my pores, the wifi-connection brought me again human connection.

So YUP! I decided to get a smart-phone when I headed back, and here I am, with a solid Iphone on my left even as I am writing this now! It’s been a wild few weeks, to say at least since I got the old monster back. The ancient habit of over-checking phones has resurfaced, but I think I’m better at catching it (with the help of Screen Time, of course, lol).

Still no regrets though. I voluntarily came back to smart phone with needs long unfulfilled. For the past three years, I felt most acutely the pains of not being connected: loss of distant/busy friendships, loss of convenient apps like Plumvillage meditation app, google maps and photos taking, and not to mention, a source of meme harvesting and distribution.

I’d like very much to be that cool hipster who lives alone in the woods with no internet, who drinks hot tea and reads and writes all day, who has friends over for the weekends and go on crazy, undocumented adventures. And maybe one day I will be, but not now. Not when I live in the city and get lost so often, when all my friends and the whole society are online, when I read and write blogs for a living… an iPhone is definitely a source of joy. 

Featured image from Phonethings
(cuz i can’t take a picture of my phone with my phone. You feel me?)

 

How to Start a Blog?

How to start blogging?

Now, one of the most frequently asked questions I’ve got after young people found out I’m a blogger is,
“Jeje, how do I start blogging?”
And I almost always jokingly tell them to just start. In hindsight, maybe they only needed a technical guidance, or some practical advice. And my answer definitely was not enough, so at them is this article aimed.

Now, I like to keep things simple, so if you are full of hot blood, wanting to get your voice echoed around the void that is the internet, then just follow these two very simple steps: first, you have to have SOMETHING to say, and second, well, SAY it. Easy peasy.

  1. Have something to say

You can have the prettiest verses, the ability to string the most beautiful sentence, but if the content is hollow, I’m sorry but your writing will not stick in the minds of people for more than three days. Iconic work of art is not just praised for their execution, though it plays a big part, it also has to tell something memorable.

Well, then, how to have something to say? You’re on your own here, pal. It’s both the magic and the curse of writing (or of any creative pursuit, really). Yes, you can write about anything and everything you want, but there’s no guideline life support to drag you through the void when you are hit by a solid writer’s block.

If you want some practical suggestions from me, it’s this. Look into your life and your environments. Find an issue that is bugging you or your community, analyze it and write about it.

A word of caution, though, I personally don’t like to just put forth a problem without offering a tentative or proven solution to the issue unless it is made to raise awareness. So again, it’s up to you. Do you wish to raise awareness to a particular issue, or do you want to share practical tips you’ve gathered on how to combat one? Again, your call.

  1. SAY it

Now, after fleshing an outline for what you want to say, it’s time to get down to the business and just write. It. Down.

There are literally courses, books and blogs dedicated to make your writing better. Find some of them and read if you must. For me though, what helps shape my writing skills the most is reading and actually paying the utmost attention to how authors write.

A year before I started blogging, I’d thought my writing skill so hopelessly mediocre that I almost decided to just give it up altogether if it weren’t for this quote from the lovely Virginia Woolf.a7481e7cf51fe1ed61c09622883aba34

Since I respected her and loved her writing dearly, I struck a bet with myself. I would set myself up to read 1,000 books and if my writing is still crappy by then, I would just give up and be a goat farmer in the rural provinces or something.

It’s been 5 years since and I’ve read a few more hundred books and believe me when I say reading (and actually GENUINELY paying attention not just to the content, but to how authors employ words and twist phrases) have helped me tremendously in becoming the author I want to be. So, my not-so-practical tip to you if you want to improve your writing is this, literally read a thousand books.

Quotefancy-52168-3840x2160There’s also another pitfall that hangs upon the minds of anyone willing to try anything new, this doom cloud that veils the will and makes it extremely easy to just procrastinate writing the first sentences down. From what I’ve learned through personal experiences and reading about other authors’ writing lives, they all have this one advice: write. Write even if you don’t feel like it. Once you have an idea, write it down. Shitty first draft makes a less shittier final draft.

 

Now that you have your article on the go, here are some blogging platforms you can try and see if they suit your needs! (Personally, I use WordPress and am pretty content with it.):

 

Welp, that’s all. Happy blogging, and if you wish, send me your first articles in the comments!

My Mindful Week- Day 4: Dealing with Technology Overload

Ping! “You’ve got a message from Dalin.”

Ping! “Ik_39483 just liked your Instagram post.”

Ping! “A: hey, I have something to talk to you.”
Ping! “Your boss just sent you yet another email.”

 

Living in this world of constant notifications, one can feel very overwhelmed from time to time. It seems as if these apps are always watching your every move, tempting you to record your moments and share them to the world. You don’t have enough time to simply just “be”- just sit and enjoy your sunbathing, or just have a nice chat with friends without having the urge to post a selfie with them with the hashtag #frienshipgoal.

Not only that, sometimes you feel like you don’t have enough time to be with yourself. It seems like there are hundred of urgent issues waiting for you to act and God forbid something very bad might happen during that 10 minutes you don’t check your newsfeed!

This technology is supposed to make you stay connected, but you feel further and further apart from yourself. There’s just simply no time to reflect before the next email arrives.

If you feel like life is slipping by so fast on your screen and you’re just there, a passive fish in the grand river of life, I would suggest you to do these (as it worked for me):

  1. Live slower: yup. Take a deep breathe in right now and look around you. Notice the lights, and objects and even people around you. You might be in bed, cozying it up in your blankets, then just notice how the night air feels this particular day; or how the streetlight hits your glassy bedroom window. When you eat, try to really taste each morsel of the food instead of hurrying to fork it down your throat just to get it over with. You clean your dish very fast because you want to drink a cup of tea afterwards. But when you get to your cup of tea, you don’t drink it peacefully, no, you gulp it down just so you can get out of the house after. But when you’re on your motorbike, making your way among the streets, you don’t do it slowly and enjoy life. Instead, you go full speed with constant honking to get to your destination. I don’t really need to go on because this is a cycle. You are always hurrying this moment for the next moment thinking that you’ll enjoy it more. But when you arrive at that next moment, you will hurry it to get to the next next moment, thinking you will finally enjoy it more. This goes on and on and on until one day, death comes, the final of all moments and you realize you have wasted your entire life chasing death.
  2. Have a no-technology period: you can start by allotting certain times of the day to turn off all your notifications. Truth be told, most of the things you think need you urgently don’t really need you that urgently. If you can’t do the job, others can. For the sake of your own peace, turn the damn notifications off. If people could live by waiting for three months to get a notification (by the form of mails) before, then so can you! You can maybe make sure you turn off your devices by dinner time, or you can go a step further and organize a iSabbath day. On that day (maybe a Saturday or Sunday), you just turn your phone and wifi off. No internet, no device, just you and your life. You can stay at home, read a book, or lounge around, or you can grab your backpack and explore the city for the whole day, spend the afternoon in a random coffee shop where you can’t check in. OR you can go another step further and not having a smartphone altogether. I took that leap of faith and it was one of the best decisions I’ve done (read it here). It’s made my life more peaceful and less demanding, but of course, it depends on your life and what you need internet for. The bottom-line is you should have some regular off-line time for yourself and your own damn life.
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  3. Go back to your island: it’s very tempting when the sun is out, you’re on your good hair day to snap a selfie and show yourself off. That’s fine, but when you constantly bombard your feed with 10 selfies a day and snapchatting every single activity you do in any given day, you might need to take a step back and ask yourself why the heck are you doing this? You know the need to share pieces of our lives on the internet is a very simple manifestation of the needs for social validation in the age of technology. (read the previous post of this series for how to deal with the need for social approval here). Breathe in and out. Imagine yourself as an island. You’re going back to your island, and honestly, the only validation you need is from yourself. I like spending an exuberant amount of time just imagining that island of self-contentment and honestly? It’s a much better way to spend time than it may seem.

 

 

Six Things I learned from One and a Half Year of Smart-phone Free Life

In 2015, I gave my ancient Iphone 3 (yes, these things still exist) to my sister, adding up to a long list of hand-me-downs she’d received from her big sister over the years which left me with a  red 20-dollar Nokia phone.

This decision was prompted one ordinary afternoon, when I caught myself instead of enjoying the fresh scent of money tree in my school’s garden after a fresh afternoon rain, I was instead, busy replying to Instagram comments about that same garden.

One and a half year have passed, and here are the things I’ve learnt so far from roaming the outside world without a smartphone:

  1. You feel much much lighter when you go out: I don’t know about you, but I usually feel quite anxious and pressured when there’s a chance, however slim, of people sending me urgent messages. Of course, I didn’t go completely off the line, I still had my normal Nokia phone (which is amazing), but the fact is that, people are more reluctant to send not-so-important messages to your number which means you have less chance of being interrupted (rudely) by those annoying ping ping just to be updated of a classmate’s breakfast picture.
  2. The less frequently you reply, the less people chat to you: this seems pretty obvious in hindsight, but when you’re caught up in the whirlwind of inbox messages, it might seem like the whole burden of the world is resting on your shoulders. You might feel like if you don’t reply that one freaking message, their whole life will be in ruins. I’ve learnt that after people go through the initial shock of not getting an instant reply, they pretty much leave you alone until there’s something important to talk to you. Even then, if they have important things to say to you, they should know to contact your number.
  3. It can become very very inconvenient sometimes: of course, sometimes you can get quite frustrated, say, your boss just sent you a file, and you have no way of accessing it because you’re outside and without a device that can connect to the internet. It’s extremely frustrating especially if you are freelance worker like me who relies on the internet for work inquiries. However, I’ve managed to survive by informing my bosses that they should contact me through the phone. I don’t think they are very happy about that, but at least it’s not an impossible demand.
  4. Less photos: the thing about not having a smartphone is that unless you have a camera with you, you are not likely to be able to snap the interesting moments that are happening in your life! It used to upset me that I won’t have photos from a wonderful hangout or a beautiful concert to post on social media later. However, I’ve grown to appreciate the fact that I have a wonderful hangout or a beautiful concert in my memory in the first place. It works well for me too since I’m more inclined to use writing as a way to immortalize my experience rather than a photo. However, I also remember to bring my camera with me if I have plans to capture shots.
  5. There’s a sense of security especially if you live in a theft infested city like Phnom Penh. Frequent cases of phone robbery are a norm, and so, without a smart phone, you feel much safer going out, and receiving calls in public.
  6. Short trips abroad suck without a smartphone: seriously, I’ve gone on a solo trip before with nothing but a Wifi-iPad, and I found it hard to find places to go and things to do. Indeed, you can use the old face-to-face communication to find out more about the place, but if your trip is time sensitive, a smart phone with an internet connection is a very helpful device to have.

I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this is the sense of control I have over my life and present moment after I eliminated the time I spent on smart phones out of the equation. Of course, I know quitting smart phone cold-turkey is a little bit extreme. You might argue that learning to control it is a better option, and that’s true. But for people who have been trapped in one side of the scale for too long, maybe going to the extreme opposite side is the best option in bringing a new perspective into their sense of balance.