Start Here!

Hi, I’m Visakan Veerasamy (call me Visa!). I work at ReferralCandy, and I also cofounded Statement. And I write for PoachedMag. I’m also somewhat active over at Quora. You should follow me on Twitter.

I am:

Singaporean. I was born and raised here. I studied and served NS here. I care deeply about making Singapore a more beautiful, thoughtful and loving community that we can all be proud to be a part of.

Humanist. I’m not religious, but I believe strongly in love, compassion and faith in ourselves and one another. As a humanist, I also identify as feminist, anti-racist, anti-xenophobic and anything else that believes in a more equitable world for everyone. If and when we make contact with extraterrestrial life, I’m all for peaceful coexistence.

Retainee. I repeated a year in Junior College because of my abysmal grades. I was disillusioned with our public education system, with school, and with life in general. One of my life goals is to seek out individuals who are going through similar experiences, and help them through it.

Musician. I’m still a beginner, but I’ve written a few songs, played in a few bands and have gotten paid for it. I have organized multiple gigs in the past. I’m passionate about Singapore’s music scene, and I believe that if we ask the right questions and pursue the right goals as a collective, we can nurture it into something that we can all be proud of.

Gamer. Video games were a huge part of my life when I was growing up. I don’t play them nearly as much as I used to, but the ‘damage’ has been done. I believe that video games are powerful narrative devices, and that there’s a lot of wisdom and insight to be gleaned from paying attention to the industry. My favourite games are Mass Effect, Final Fantasy VII and Terranigma.
Thinker. Feels like a redundant thing to say, but I like thinking, and I believe it should be significantly encouraged as a human activity.
ASelf-Quantifier. AKA LifeHacker, or whatever buzzword you prefer to use. I’m a fan of enlightened living. I’m not very good at it, but I like to read and write about it.

I’m passionate about making whatever positive difference I can make to the world beyond myself, while learning, growing and having fun in the process.

My interests include systems thinking, communication, narratives, philosophy, social dynamics and decision-making. I love identifying patterns, refining and synthesizing disparate ideas. I live for moments of epiphany and insight.

I spent the first 20 years of my life as a chronic underachiever. My mantra was “Do as little as you can possibly get away with.” Minimize discomfort. When I turned 20, I gradually realised that I had wasted most of life’s opportunities being distracted by superficial things. I did not want my grave to read, “Here lies Visa, an arrogant, lazy and unlikable slob who accomplished nothing worth mentioning.”

I decided that I was going to stop drifting aimlessly and transform into a heat-seeking missile, locked onto my vision of myself growing into a highly accomplished individual who is happy, fulfilled and an asset to humanity. This is still a work in progress.

You may be interested in my series on how to be awesome titled “Hacking The 7 Deadly Sins“, including Vanity, Lust, Greed.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

Above all else: Email me. My email is visakanv at gmail dot com. Ask me a question, tell me something interesting, whatever. I live for human connection. I want to hear from you, whatever it is that you might have to say- or even if you don’t know what to say. I’m here. This is me reaching out to you. Reach out to me.

Writing.

I’ve written for:

visakanv.com - You’re here right now. I provoke people to think and live better.
FeverAvenue.com - I write an Op-Ed column for Think Tank.
NewNation.sg - Singaporean political commentary and satire.
PowerOfPop.com - I write music reviews.
Campus Magazine - I write on behalf of men in a His vs. Hers column. (This one actually gets printed and distributed!)

Music:

Armchair Critic. I started a band, with no musical talent or background. We wrote our own songs. We played over 80 shows, including Timbre, the Esplanade Powerhouse Stage, *scape and the Youth Park.

The Kamikaze Love Pilots is an idea I have for the next band I’d start, if I started one.

Events Management:

Me and two friends organized several gigs together. We called ourselves CAVEvents. We would explore bars and pubs, make a deal with the managers, rent equipment, liason with performers, sell tickets.

Community Building:

I built a Facebook community from scratch, founded on the principle of good conversation. We have 290 members, and we talk about everything from philosophy and politics to trivial day-to-day stuff. We have members who’re working and studying all over the world, and we meet up from time to time. Several members have found love.

Selling T-Shirts:

I sell t-shirts. We’re called Statement.  The idea is that the t-shirts should function as conversation starters, that they should effectively communicate something about the wearer.

===

Someone once asked me, “You say that you’ll fight to the end for what you believe in- but what do you believe in?” And I realized- I knew, but I didn’t know. I hadn’t articulated it. So here’s a provisional attempt:

It’s possible. That’s the most important belief of all. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish. It’s possible.  If the world knocks you down, get back up and try again. Be skeptical, but never cynical. Cynicism is too easy, and it accomplishes nothing. Nobody gets it right the first few times. Most people are afraid to try, afraid to believe in themselves. This can change.

Life is wiser than us. Wisdom comes from experience, and something that has been around for billions of years is something that we can learn from. Everything wonderful in the world went through variation and selection- trial and error. The universe is too complex for any individual to adequately comprehend. We have to acknowledge this, and learn to function accordingly- through deliberate and robust experimentation.(See: Tim Harford’s God Complex.) We aren’t evolving as quickly as we could be, because of our outdated, primitive thinking. This can change.

Survival of the fittest is a valid concept, but it’s poorly interpreted in today’s complex environment. The fittest person in a community is not the person with the biggest muscles, or the with the biggest brain- it’s the person with the biggest heart, who is able to leverage and utilize the vast resources of everyone else. Not everyone has learnt to transcend rigid individualism to see themselves as part of a greater whole. This can change.

Our emotions are outdated. They were developed for a context far less complex than the one we inhabit today. Fight and flight are both obsolete options. You can no longer truly win a fight any more, in the conventional sense. And there’s nowhere to flee too. Negotiation and compromise are the only way forward. We haven’t adapted to this reality yet. This can change.

Resources are overrated- resourcefulness is key. Every “limitation” can be transcended, and even leveraged as a selling point. There will always be someone somewhere with less of everything than you, in far worse circumstances- who will accomplish far more than you ever will, simply through sheer ingenuity and persistence. Most people are still conditioned to think that time, money and other resources are fundamental. This can change.

We are all connected, and increasingly so. Everything is part of something greater than itself. Everything is interconnected and interdependent. So self-interest means looking out for each other. Being selfish leaves you worse off, because it denies you the opportunity to be a part of symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationships. We should all strive to be valuable to others. Most of us don’t. This can change.

People have far more potential for goodness than we give them credit for. Everyone’s nervous, anxious and insecure. Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody’s afraid of getting hurt. Everybody’s defensive. Everyone secretly wants to live in a world where everyone is free, comfortable, happy- but most people are too frightened to take the first step. This can change.

People aren’t inherently bad- just unenlightened and unskilled at managing their lives. What do you want out of life? Most people aren’t sure. Are your actions and beliefs helping you get what you want? Almost nobody. Have you tried changing them? Most people aren’t even aware that it’s an option. This can change.

A lot of conventional ideas are going to get seriously shaken up in the near future.  We’re still heavily invested in the status quo. This can change.

Big things happen through baby steps. As Will Smith says, don’t try and build a house. Focus on laying a brick. Say that you want to lay the most perfect brick that was ever laid. And lay it. And lay another one tomorrow. And eventually you’ll have a house.

Mindfulness matters. When everything is going crazy, sit down and pay attention to your own mind. The self is an illusion- or rather, a simulation. The solutions emerge naturally if you just listen.

28 Responses to Start Here!

  1. Jacq says:

    where’s the part where you say ‘I’m from TPJC?’ :P I thought you said it had a great impact on you too?

    • visa says:

      I said that? Perhaps I meant that retaining had a big impact on me, but it wouldn’t have mattered where I did the retaining at… most of what was interesting in my life during my JC years were directly related to what I did when I wasn’t in school

  2. Peter Chong says:

    Hello Visakan,

    From your profile photo, I gather you are a young man. I wish you opportunities and safety in traveling to see the world.

    I am a senior citizen at 70 coming July. Like you, I am Singapore born and bred. And I agree with your essay “Incentive Fallacy”. It is money and more money. That is what the government can think of. But the problem is it does not trickle down.

    Best wishes

  3. Rachel Chng says:

    Hi Visakan,

    I am Rachel from The Thought Collective. A student from our learning centre recommended your blog, and I think what we do may interest you. Would you be able to spare some time and visit our company websites? If there is something that stands out for you, we could set something up.

    Our websites are:
    School of Thought Learning Centre: http://www.schoolofthought.com.sg
    Food For Thought: http://www.foodforthought.com.sg
    Thinkscape: http://www.thinkscape.com.sg

    Thanks, I look forward to your reply!

    Best Regards,
    rachel chng I copy editor
    __________________________________________

    school of thought
    112 middle road #02-01 midland house
    singapore 188970
    __________________________________________

    demand a broader perspective

  4. The well-wisher says:

    “I am proud of my country despite its shortcomings” should read “I am proud of my country” coz it don’t make no sense otherwise.

  5. Tina Mercury says:

    Hi Visa..

    Middle aged, Singaporean born and bred Eurasian lady here.. love your wit and humour!! Your views are shared by many across the age and racial demographics of Singapore.. Keep up the good stuff!! :-)

  6. Santhi says:

    Awesome to read a local blog with real perpectives while entertaining. Keep your passion alive and work smart to make your dreams become reality!

  7. Nikki says:

    Hiii Visa! I like your controversial articles and wit. Keep up the good work! You should keep an “archives” bar by date. :)

  8. bcow says:

    Very interesting.thoughts. just saying but Gather u are a whisky man?

  9. Lydia Gan says:

    Enjoy your rich use of wit with simplicity in your blog.

  10. ching says:

    Hi Visa, I came across your blog from a friend who shared your recent CISCO wayang post.
    Even though I have 2 final major assignments to complete for my undergrad degree and both due within 24 hours your humor kept me reading. All I would like to say is that your post are really informative, refreshing and funny. I like it. Thanks for making my day.

    Cheers
    Ching

  11. femellalibera says:

    I REALLY like the way you think. I hope that I end up with someone informed like you. Thank you for making me feel that there are men out there that are interested in the same things as I am. I always meet people who’re anti-feminists and misogynistic in general. It’s amazing to see people like you.

    • visa says:

      You are very kind. I am still very uninformed, and am schooled on my ignorance every day. Misogyny and sexism hurts everybody. Thank you again for your kind words. Don’t settle for anything or anybody that doesn’t make your heart sing! :)

  12. Wil Ong says:

    Visakan! Your material is amazing. I can’t believe you have a website man haha

  13. Dear Visa,

    On behalf of the National Library Board (NLB), we would like to invite you to pledge your blog to the Singapore Memory Project as part of efforts to collect memories that are already manifested in existing online channels.

    The Singapore Memory Project (SMP) is a national initiative to collect, preserve and provide access to Singapore’s knowledge materials. Spearheaded by NLB, the SMP aims to build a national collection of content in diverse formats (including print, audio and video), to preserve them in digital form, and make them available for discovery and research.

    By pledging your blog to SMP, you are affirming that every memory matters. Whether your posts are an account of your daily life, or an expression of your thoughts, the SMP hopes to find a home for your memories so that it can help build towards an understanding of Singapore. You will also receive a badge that you can display on your blog in recognition of your contributions.

    Contributors to this blog pledging initiative will be listed on Singapore Memory portal’s blog pledging webpage. All blogs pledged to SMP will archived using NLB’s web harvesting software, in addition to images of each blog’s landing page.

    If you are keen to pledge your blog to SMP, simply fill up our response form at this following URL: http://singaporememory.simulation.com.sg/Public/Pledge.

    You may find out more about this initiative at http://www.iremember.sg/?page_id=2822.

    We are looking forward to your contribution.

    Simulation Software & Technology (S2T) Pte Ltd
    583 Orchard Road #14-02 Forum The Shopping Mall S(238884), Singapore
    |w: http://www.simulation.com.sg

  14. Victorian says:

    Hello Visa,

    I’m a fellow victorian and it pains me to take the PIE everytime and pass by our old campus at Geylang Bahru. Our once-majestic grandstand has been reduced to some old yellow and grey dual-tone color bullshit with a school crest barely recognisable. The sight is disgusting like seeing a smelly girl downstairs. How dare they paint over our grandstand.

    I urge you to gather fellow victorians who wish to restore honor to our grandstand. It will be awesome to see the words THY SONS ARE WE greeting the commuters of the PIE. Let our flag unfurl, again.

  15. James Ho says:

    Hellow there Visa. Long time no see. :3

  16. I absolutely love your blog! It’s my ‘go to place’ for anything on Singapore :-) All the best to you!

    Archana

  17. Harro says:

    Hi Visa! Hang in there… Life only gets better.

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