Sharing her life with the world

NAVIGATING work life for the first time can be daunting, especially when you work in the media industry where everything moves at a breakneck pace.

And with the rise of social media, the pace has picked up, especially for social media talents like One FM’s Emica Thong.

The hardworking 24-year-old produces daily entertainment and lifestyle videos for the Chinese radio station’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

Despite the allure of the job, Thong explains that the industry is not always about the glitz and glamour.

What led you to be a social media talent? Was it something you wanted to do, or just chanced upon?

“No, I totally did not know about this [job]. I treat it as a very precious opportunity given to me, because I used to be an intern at OneFM, but didn’t think of myself as a person who was good at speaking or hosting.

“During my internship, I just thought of developing myself and my skills in the media industry, but not in front of the camera.

“[Initially] I thought I was going to do work behind the cameras, but at the time ... they gave me an opportunity to try doing something onscreen, like shooting and hosting videos.

“At first, I wasn’t very used to it but after a while, I thought maybe I was suitable for the job after all, but still reminded myself that I have a lot more to learn.

“I’m the type of person who is very scared of being bored. I can’t just sit in the office from nine to five, and then go home.

“I cannot predict what I’ll [be doing] the next day, next week, or next month [and] I like it this way.

“I [told] myself that I just want to try and see how far I could go, and how much I can do in this industry, because I know that many people want this opportunity, so I really appreciate it.”

Have you made any positive impact through your job?

“I started [volunteering] in kindergartens when I was in Year Five, when they needed extra help like moving furniture. After that, I started volunteering at old folk’s homes and orphanages.

“After stepping into this industry, I was very worried that if I snapped a picture of myself volunteering, people might think I’m just [promoting] myself, so, I totally didn’t tell anyone about it [at first].

“I also realise there is a limit to how much influence a person in my position has, so I hope I can [encourage] more people to do this [especially since] my audience is mostly made up of youths.

“[Before] working, volunteering was quite hard because my financials were unstable, but I liked it anyway.

“Now, it’s not only me. More people might join me because of what I do.”

Since your job revolves around social media, do you ever feel like unplugging from the world to have a moment to yourself?

“Yeah, I think about doing that a lot. Honestly, it’s very tiring to snap pictures or post stories before doing anything, just to keep your social media active and let people know you’re still here, that you’re still alive. Our lives become part of the content to attract our audience.

“We have to mix my personal life and work. You can’t really keep it separate and say this is my job, and this is my personal life. You’ll appear two-faced. People will think you’re so fake.

“My way of unplugging myself from social media is to go for a short getaway or holiday to recharge myself, and bring back a better me.”

What are some of the worse aspects of social media and being so public on it?

“It’s quite stressful to know that every action and behaviour, your every word, will be under the microscope. People will say: ‘Why are you talking like this? Why do you do this?’

“It’s stressful thinking you have to live [up to] people’s expectation. Of course, my boss and company hope that everyone will like me, but you cannot please everybody.

“So now, the way I think is, I’ll do whatever I want and if you like it, you like it. If you don’t, then you can go for others that you like.

“For my job, I need to smile in front of the camera, and [present] the joyful side of myself. After work, I actually feel tired from talking so much. Sometimes, I don’t feel like talking, and don’t want to socialise again because even smiling is tiring.

“When you take the MRT or when some people recognise you, they will think: ‘Why is her face like that? On video, she’s very joyful’.

“No matter if you hate or love us, everyone needs a private space to breathe.”

You were also in the Newtide the PerfectMe Girl search, where you finished in the Top 10.

“This magazine competition took place last year. I didn’t think I would join because I know myself. [My] height is only 155cm.

“Then I thought: ‘Why should I limit myself to these outside factors?’ I wanted to prove that you don’t have to be ‘perfect’ under society’s expectations.

“I think what makes me ‘perfect’ is that I can accept and love my imperfections.”