Self-Entitled S’porean Complained About SMRT’s ‘Dirty’ Train Window on FB & Got Backlash

Image: joyfull / / Facebook

What is the best avenue for sharing feedback, complaint, or simply an open-ended comment to generate healthy discussion?

Is it through snail-mail, email or social media?

But even before that, what is the intent behind choosing either one these avenues?

Is it for a quick-fire response or indeed, even a quick-fire backfire?

Then again, what constitutes a feedback, complaint and/or comment even?

It is this intersection of questions where Facebook user, Zantet Heng, found himself/herself at.

Dishing the Dirt of Cleanliness

On 8 March, 8.56 AM, Heng took to Facebook to voice his/her unhappiness with regard to the state of an MRT cabin’s windows.

Here’s the post:

Image: Screenshot from Facebook

Heng’s caption wrote:

It feels like the window cleaning team is sleeping, or the supervisor. Doesn’t anybody check before the train is operational? Car 3204. Time is now.

If you ask me, superficially and without much thought, I would have been quick to assume that this post might have gotten a chorus of equally-naysaying netizens onboard.

For this could just have just been another boo-boo that we’ve seen SMRT run the gamut from incessant train breakdowns to maintenance incidents.

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Alas, I thought wrong.

For these were some of the comments criticizing Heng’s post.

Image: Facebook/Zentat Heng
Image: Facebook/Zentat Heng

Delivery, Content, Form and Intent

In itself, my thoughts are “Is cleanliness not important?” for which I find myself answering: “Yes, it is.”

So what has gone wrong with Heng’s post?

Clearly, the method of delivery didn’t help.

As my Editor has laid it out for me titularly, self-entitlement can clearly be seen in Heng’s captions.

Things like “is the cleaning team sleeping” reeks of sarcasm and “Time is now” belies a holier-than-thou, superiority complex.

So the question is, should Heng have worded it differently, would the response have been different?

I’m unsure as to what the answer may be.

Heng’s decision to use Facebook also contributes to this discussion.

If it were meant to be a sincere feedback/complaint, would giving feedback via SMRT’s email be a better option?

While it might not achieve a rapid response (if any) from SMRT, it is wholly devoid of the potential pitfalls of social media, and is, for the lack of a better word, the ‘right’ channel for feedback traditionally.

But Then Again

Having said that though, it is by now commonplace anecdote to hear of a company’s inaction right up till a viral-blow-up-in-your face social media incident.

Ultimately, I’m compelled to question Heng’s intent.

A combination of bad delivery, on a questionable platform for something that un-urgent or insignificant, at least in comparison to breakdowns and the likes, makes me wonder if sharing sincere feedback was truly Heng’s motive.

A quick check on the Facebook account seems to suggest that this is a troll account.

While we are right to stand up in arms against self-entitlement, plain rudeness, or even innocuous boh liao-ness, trolls may I add, use all of the above -but not limited to-ingredients, to elicit responses at large.

A Troll?

In my opinion, Heng was merely a bored troll expertly using circumstances and free time to generate a post which had, in turn, generated responses…

… and this article.

Realizing my folly and having a part to further Heng’s trolling attempt…

Me: Boss ar, I think this article shouldn’t be published.

Boss: Why leh? Are you trolling me?

Me: No. Zantet Heng is the troll, not me.

Boss: Okay, then publish the article today. We love trolls.


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