State of Social and Internet 2017

A while back, my friend Jeremiah Owyang wrote his perception of the state of social to which I contributed. Decided I’ll add onto my blog as well.

Twitter: dumpster fire but central to US current events, news
Facebook: where The Olds who ‘don’t get’ other social networks congregate to get attention, Asia’s LinkedIn, and others have an account for the sole purpose of Messenger ( via web)
Messenger: communication utility (Skype / Hangouts replacement; the Westerner’s WeChat and Weibo — encrypted messaging and P2P payments? Yes please!)
LinkedIn: depot of shameless self promoters and what NOT to do cues for teens and millennials professionally networking. I.E., Stay away from descriptors such as, but not limited, to: ‘futurist’, ‘keynote speaker’, ‘innovator’, ‘change agent’, etc., etc.,
Snapchat: dancing Hot Dog and awesome filters to cross post onto IG
IG: branding tool for the non-olds (teens). Lifestyle diary for Millennials (food, beauty, fashion, etc.)
Google+: Huh? What’s that???
Telegram: status symbol to show you’re ‘in the know’ about cryptocurrencies.
Slack: quickly becoming the new email
WhatsApp: where European Android users are
LINE: only relevant to Thais and old Japanese people
Ding Talk: where Chinese who don’t trust Weibo or WeChat conduct business

Social networks aside, my phone is the place I do the most internetting and boy has my homescreen changed a lot. Take a look:


The three apps on the bottom are apps most used: Twitter, brower, mail.
1. Apple’s mail app has been replaced by Outlook (yes, Microsoft Outlook) because Gmail loads the quickest plus the experience is much better. I can’t believe I’m saying this either but hey — it is what it is.
2. Safari has been replaced by Brave — which I wrote extensively about here.

Despite having 256gigs on my phone, I only have one page of apps. Mainly because I realized long ago I only use a handful on the daily. I also turn off the little red circles because they induce anxiety and helped me wean off my addiction. (Read about that journey here.)

Funny how things change!

Related: Snap Chat should be worried — check out this neat graph I found. 300M daily active users for Instagram stories! Amazing.



Why Bitcoin is Important

Most have now heard of Bitcoin because there is so much coverage of people getting ‘rich’ from Bitcoin. But the more I research, the more I realize: Not that many people know exactly what it is, how it applies to them, and why ‘Bitcoin’ is so valuable.

I put Bitcoin in quotes because Bitcoin only represents a sliver of the possibilities behind the fundamental reason Bitcoin, or cryptocurrency, digital assets, alt coins, and blockchain are so important. That said, disclaimer: If you’re here to learn how to instantly make money from ICOs, this post isn’t for you.

Let me back up a bit.

The rapid growth of the middle-class is the reason I choose to live in SEA but it also should be worrisome to the world for one reason: by 2030, it is projected that 2/3 of the world’s middle class population will be living in Asia.

I use the term Asia broadly, but these countries include, but not limited to: Asia-Pacific (Southeast Asia ie: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei), and of course, China, and India. (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)

What this implies is if 2/3 of the middle class population is based in Asia, the economic power will start shifting, new problems and solutions for these problems come alive. Or, as we commonly hear: disruption and innovation.

My interest in Bitcoin (or crypotcurrency and blockchain technology) simply started as a curious, technologically savvy person residing in this region, as crypoto is only one of the ‘disruptive’ or ‘innovative’ technologies deriving from quick change. Within the short 4.5 years I’ve moved from the States to ‘Asia’, I’ve seen with my own eyes, massive advances.

What does this mean?

I’ve been obsessed with messaging apps, anything mobile, and SEA — specifically how technology is changing economies in high-growth nations, driving innovation from need, reducing socio-economic inequalities, and the failures of first world nations to keep up. (This sounds like a bunch of jargon but whatever. Deal with it.)

Messaging apps that started as communication utilities are now full-blown ecosystems where billions of micro-transactions from communication (messaging), payments (cashless), to things that make daily life easier (food delivery, share economy, etc.) take place on a daily basis. And this is just the beginning.

In a region where things change on close to a daily basis, conversations about currency are naturally floating about because

  1. according to the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Database, over 2.5B adults in developing economies do not own bank accounts
  2. and only 20% of those living in extreme poverty own bank accounts


And by 2020, there will be 1 billion new smartphone subscribers only in SEA. (source)

With the mobile penetration changes, our daily lives are impacted, as daily necessities are physically met through mobile technology. If you live in a first world, it may be hard to imagine a world where getting from point A to point B can take an entire day, since city infrastructures in developing nations aren’t designed to handle traffic and congestion. Imagine taking a day off to run simple errands, such as shopping, banking, and paying bills. Now, imagine not having a bank account because you can’t afford to pay banking fees or you don’t have a valid I.D., or worse: the nearest bank to your home requires a day trip.

Enter Bitcoin.

In regions with pain points such as the above, the notion of currency that doesn’t require the middleman (banks) is the reason investors, bankers, and smart people in fin-tech find Bitcoin so alluring.

Put it this way: If we can make free calls between San Francisco and Beijing, why do we have to pay to transfer money from San Francisco to Beijing? If it takes all day to take out cash from my bank account, why won’t I leave it in a safe under my bed unless there’s a better option? In a world where middlemen can potentially take six paychecks worth of fees, why wouldn’t I find a way to cut out the middleman and directly transact?

These are only a few problems ‘Bitcoin’ or more accurately, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can solve. 

Do note, these are examples in high-growth nations to simply illustrate the promise of cryptocurrency, but there are a ton of first-world scenarios where the blockchain can innovate and disrupt that I’m looking to share in the upcoming months.

In the meantime, hope this post clarified what the fuss about Bitcoin is about.

Stay tuned for Part II: An Explanation of Blockchain for Non-Tech People
Edit: published! You can read it here.

Trump’s Recklessness and Potential Global Impact

Until someone as uninformed, angry, self-absorbed, and delusionally unaware of their own short-comings as Trump took seat as the leader of the free world, I am ashamed to admit I had no idea the power and impact of an American president.

He bullies and insults members of Congress, high-ranking and respectable government and military officials, scholars, businessmen, and world leaders. He rallies support by corralling the forgotten Americans with his “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, singling out ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic demographic groups resulting in the creation of angry hate mobs.

By preying on the weak, Trump has enabled the worst of the worst of the American people giving them platforms and a voice. He’s putting money in capitalist scumbags’ pockets who are profiting from the hate. The impact from their selfish purposes has caused more damage than anyone could’ve probably imagined. I don’t even know how long it will take the country to heal from the Nazis coming out of the woodworks into the public, hate rallies and speeches that are being held, to the American citizens openly making racist remarks and bigotry that is exercised, all justified under “MAGA”. He has put forth unfathomable policies, putting unqualified family members and extremist conservatives into positions of power and, well, I am probably preaching to the choir.

Meanwhile, over in other parts of the world, China and Russia are making power moves in regions the economy is rapidly growing. The rate the Middle Class is growing in, for example, ASEAN, is moving along as been predicted by the big financial institutions: MS, GS, JP Morgan, et al., and starting 2020, economic powers will begin shifting.

And here is Trump, touting MAGA, and the damage he is causing for America is not good, to say the least. I truly hope there are people in Trump’s inner circle advising in terms of long-term economic and geo-political implications since things are moving quickly on the ground in the high-growth Nations.

Another concerning thing is the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency. And no I am not talking about ICO (initial coin offering, which is the same as an IPO). I’m talking more about the core value of crypto and the reason why VCs and entrepreneurs are into an alternate form of currency aside from the current thing we call ‘money’. Crypto is a post on its own but once cryptocurrency is adopted to the masses, it is highly likely the dollar will start losing value.

So, essentially, the dollar will start losing power alongside American economic power (purchasing, market, bargaining, trade, class, etc.) and there is a chance America will no longer be a ‘super power’.

These things aren’t going to happen tomorrow or next year and I hope we don’t see effects within Trump’s presidency (a decline that rapid is a sure indicator of a disastrous outcome).

An economist scholar once said to me: “Don’t worry Mona, the economy always works itself out.” but I can not help but be concerned for our future. 

I cannot vote (am not a U.S. citizen) but I hope those with voting rights in America, do. Because as much as we all complain about America, I do not know another country on the planet where democracy actually works and makes impact, quickly (just look at the mid-term elections). Another country where there are so many bright, enlightened, and experienced people are changing the way the world behaves and thinks. America is, one of the greatest countries in the world to live and I cannot see a world where American influence (usually for the good) is no longer a reality.

But most concerning, if you look closely at Trump’s business accomplishments, he’s capitalized through his name (licensing, trademarks, etc.) not wise business decisions. He is a brand marketer. Not a businessman. I do not trust him to grow America’s economy and I hope you don’t, either. So please. Vote!

Resurrection of TokyoFinds


I laid TokyoFinds to rest at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to Leah and Angie at Tumblr, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE!!

REJOICE. Visit Finds here:

Sidenotes: as much space as I take up on the internet, TokyoFinds is the only place I post under a paid domain LOL
For those wondering what Finds is:

Instead of polluting my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all things Tokyo and Japan, I decided to deposit them here. Enjoy.

Big shout-out to Leah!!!!!!!’n Thank you, thank you thank you!

Ode to The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin

It’s not about abortion. It’s about the next 20 years. Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cellphones. I’m talking about health records, and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?

— Sam Seaborn in The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 9. Air date: 11/24/1999

I’m re-watching “The West Wing” again, letting it run in the background in lieu of music. No matter how many times I watch the series — at least three times a year for about six years in a row now — I am blow away by the super sharp, clever dialogue.

The quote up top is only one of the many reasons why “The West Wing” is still my favorite series on television – hands down. Think about it. In 1999, the public was still heavily reliant on pagers. The internet was only used by ‘nerds’ and ‘weirdos’. Dial-up was the norm. Aol was slowly being discovered by teens. Sorkin was way ahead of his time for someone writing for television.

If you haven’t seen the series, it is highly recommended. I may also be biased, as that particular quote by Sam, reminds me how fortunate I am to have lived through one of the most spectacular eras: the shift from analog (vinyls, cassette tapes) to digital. Rise of hardware, software, cloud and back to hardware (wearables). The mobile revolution (pagers to flip phones to smartphones) — I mean, I can go on and on. Every time I think of all that I have seen and experienced, I cannot help but to be grateful.

Thank you, mom and dad!

Digital Expectations

She sucks.” he said. “Just because she has different email habits than you and me, it doesn’t means ‘she sucks’.” I immediately wrote back.

The other day I hooked a friend up with a friend of a friend for a ‘friend’s and family’ AirBnB discount. My friend looking for the AirBnB isn’t online 24/7 but for hyper connected people, one day of unresponsiveness seems like a week. My friend hooking my other friend up with the AirBnB sent a borderline hostile email threatening to cancel the verbal reservation if she doesn’t respond within x number of hours. The whole thing was a bit stressful for all parties involved and unnecessarily dramatic.

But then I thought about it and realized I am guilty of acting like him too. That when I send an email, I expect a response within a day. Which got me wondering: “Do digital people expect too much from others who have different behaviors than us? Do I cause unnecessary drama, stress and negativity because of those expectations?”

I don’t know if there is one answer but the biggest takeaway I got from this interaction is the world isn’t going to end because someone doesn’t immediately respond. Be more empathetic. Lay off expectations. Ease up a bit. Not just for myself but to be better towards others and, to the world.

Learn something new everyday.