Why do you write?
I posted this photo on Instagram today. The original caption simply read: Kennedy Town, a.k.a. K Town, on the water.
Minutes later, upon recalling anecdotes from a friend who has spent many years in Kennedy Town, I tapped on the “edit” button. This was the result:
Once upon a time, Kennedy Town was a low-key working class neighbourhood in the Western District. There were vegetable and poultry wholesale markets, slaughterhouses, a street lined with 大牌檔 dai pai dong hawkers and even a factory that produced fried lard!
Since a few years before the opening of the MTR station (Dec 2014), the area gradually became gentrified. Hipster coffee shops, European restaurants, wine bars and yakitori joints descended upon this once-sleepy corner of Hong Kong Island. Up rose shiny steel and glass towers, competing for the precious harbour views, edging out their older and humbler neighbours.
I had briefly deliberated whether I should spend a few minutes to write something beyond the initial one-liner. How many people will notice or even read the extended caption? Who would care?
The answer: I do.
Since I moved to Hong Kong in summer, I’ve been publishing photos and recording observations and useful information more frequently on Instagram than on my blog or Facebook. Instagram has become my visual diary, albeit a heavily curated one – I hardly ever post anything in the moment.
While a picture supposedly paints a thousand words, there’s so much more that I want to add to give context to most of my photos, hence the lengthy captions. Instagram accounts of media organisations such as Magnum Photos, Roads & Kingdoms, Burn Diary and China File have inspired me on this front.
It was only a month ago that I was musing about writing long descriptions to accompany images posted on Instagram. Today’s post was triggered by a TED talk on time management that I recently watched.
Excerpt: “Everything I do, every minute I spend, is my choice”. Rather than say, “I don’t have time to do x, y or z,” she’d say, “I don’t do x, y or z because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t have time,” often means “It’s not a priority.”
I often question why I’m frittering precious minutes every day scrolling through an endless stream of images and commenting on strangers’ photos. I still don’t know. I suspect that it is part procrastination (I’ve a list of blog ideas waiting to be put into writing) and part instant gratification (when a heart or new follower pops up).
How we choose to use our time applies to everything in our lives, not just social media or blogging. One minute spent doing something means one minute not spent on something else.
If you’ve got any time management tips, please do share them with me!