Heather Chua – Singapore’s Greatest Troll

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Left:Possibly not her real face. Right: Possibly her real face.

How to deal with the ultimate product of social media narcissism and trolling – just ignore her

The name Heather Chua should, by now, ring a bell with netizens of Singapore. Her most recent derogatory comments regarding her RGS classmate getting married to an ITE graduate has spread like wildfire via Facebook and The Real Singapore. Many netizens have slammed Ms Chua for her insensitive comments.

However, this is not the first time she has been in the spotlight. Late last year, STOMP carried an article which highlighted her disdain towards ITE students. Prior to that, her exercise of the freedom of speech caught the attention of Ma Huaqing – a journalist with the local Chinese broadsheet, Lianhe Wanbao, who wrote an article summarising her negative sentiments against local soldiers on March 19, 2013. Blogger Mitsueki compiled a more detailed (and colourful) history of Ms Chua’s previous commentary.

Despite vast negative feedback, insults, as well as attempts by netizens to unmask her online identity, Ms Chua has remained unfazed. Displaying grace under fire, Ms Chua has taunted, counter-insulted and lambasted racist slurs at netizens with her belief of “one woman vs her 100+ haters”. Ms Chua remained steadfast even when accused of using the picture of Thai actress/blogger Pimpatchara Vajrasevee as her profile picture.

Racial SlurAbove: a screengrab of one of Heather Chua’s more racially offensive remarks.

While it is still unknown if Ms Chua is indeed an actual person – who, judging from her online persona, would be a 40 year-old lady, has a penchant for inspirational quotes*, likes high-end luxury cars, a potential radical feminist and enjoys putting down ITE students and locals who support the opposition – it can be surmised that Ms Chua is the ultimate product of social media narcissism and trolling in recent years.

Like a textbook troll, she taunts everybody and seems to enjoy creating controversy simply for the sake of chaos. Like the Joker from The Dark Knight, she seems to operate without reason or logic and merely operating on her instincts; like a dog chasing cars. She seems like a woman who just wishes to watch the world burn. She thrives off the negative feedback and if anything, grows bolder with each post.

There is other circumstantial evidence that supports the idea of her being a troll (and a very active one at that). Her lack of friends and numerous followers, her limited interactions with other parties on Facebook (eg no one shared any cat videos with her, which in my opinion, is sad), the lack of pictures placing her in a social setting – all hint at the Facebook account being a well crafted and time invested troll pursuit.

If its attention she wants, I daresay Ms Chua (or the person behind this online female persona) has achieved his/her goal and may become the first controversial topic of Singapore for 2014. Indeed, her number of followers have doubled in the past few days, from 1500+ when she first posted her insentive comments regarding her classmate’s marriage to an ITE graduate to 2837 at time of writing.

Her verbal sparring (closer to nuclear warfare with words actually) with the satire and entertainment (of sorts) SMRT Ltd (Feedback) has escalated to the point where the authorities have been informed. However, whether the authorities will or can take any action is up for dispute.

But what if Heather Chua is a real person and not a troll? Online inhibition** has been characterised as a key trait of online trolls. What if she is actually exhibiting social inhibition taken to the extreme?

There is a thin line between loving one’s self, and narcissism, and Ms Chua, assuming she is a real person, clearly steps over that line many times if one were bored and to spend enough time going through her past posts. A previous article of mine once stated that the freedom of speech goes hand in hand with the freedom of screech, and Ms Chua does a fine example of demonstrating the freedom of screech. And as previously stated, we should learn to ignore those who screech and engage those who speak.

And in the off-chance Ms Chua (or the person behind Ms Chua) is caught and successfully prosecuted for say, racism under the Sedition Act, then s/he will become a prudent reminder on why the freedom of speech should not be abused.

****

*The kind of inspirational quotes one subscribes to always bears interesting insights

**Times like this, I wish I had better street cred to acquire input from a psychologist or counsellor  regarding social media and mental health….but then again this is, at the end of the day, a mere blog entry.

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