Explaining the Unbelievable Popularity of Xavier Lur
Take a look at this picture.

It’s a simple concept – food with eggs and a caption harmless enough to ignore. Yet, it was retweeted 31,000 times, and received over 10,000 likes.

Does this make any sense to you? We guess not. But don’t worry, we’re just as confused.

Popularity like this is reserved for Hollywood celebrities and politicians, where every life detail is newsworthy. Yet, we’re not talking about Kim Kardashian’s butt.

We’re talking about Xavier Lur, a 23-year-old national serviceman who is set to pursue a degree at Singapore Management University this month. This was his most popular tweet to date, and it is not a random occurrence. In fact, his mundane tweets on life regularly receive thousands of retweets on Twitter.

On his website, Xavier brands himself as a digital ninja, a hobbyist designer, a travel enthusiast, or just someone who just simply enjoys his food and tea. But most Twitter users in Singapore will know him as @xavierlur, the guy who shares information on events happening around the island or where to get the best lobangs (deals).

Be it $7.50 Milo energy cubes, art exhibitions that offer free admissions or a new flagship store opening around the island, anything affordable and interesting Xavier chances upon is an opportunity for him snap photographs and share with others. Don’t say bojio, right?

While everyone loves a good lobang, this alone does not begin to explain his incredible popularity on Twitter.

Xavier's informational tweets regularly receive thousands of retweets.
While most online personalities live on social media sites like Instagram, Xavier thrives best on the microblogging service that is arguably losing its relevance. With over 166,000 Twitter followers — mostly consisting of teenagers and young adults — you are guaranteed to come across his tweets at least once if you are active on this platform.

In contrast, he has about 6300 followers on Instagram, despite posting the same photos and captions most of the time.

“It’s a bit different on Instagram, you need to follow the person so you can see their posts. But for Twitter, even if you don’t follow me, you would still get my tweets on the timeline,” Xavier says, as tries to explain his Twitter fame.

Of course, he’s being modest.

Everything Xavier writes about has an aura of “relatability”. Even a mundane tweet about “doing something productive instead of spending my NS off day sleeping at home” could easily fetch hundreds of retweets. And lately, his popularity has reached new levels of absurdity.

On Twitter, Xavier has been hailed as a legend, a god, and the “hero Singapore needs and deserves”. More recently, people have been asking him to submit his candidacy for the Presidential elections.

You know you're famous when you become a meme.
He’s become almost meme-like, which is no small feat in the world of social media. For example, “post before Xavier Lur” is a recurring gag that his fans have created as a light-hearted attempt to show that they have found something interesting before their hypothetical president does.

One of the many Xavier Lur memes that have been making the rounds.
When I ask him about it, it’s clear that he doesn’t take the attention seriously.

“I didn’t really expect most of the comments because I’m just doing what I love to do. When people say that, I guess it’s more of a joking manner, I don’t think they are too serious about it,” Xavier responds with a laugh.

But looking past the memes and the jokes, what seems most incongruent with his popularity is the fact that Xavier is everything we don’t expect an influencer to be.

He’s not a six-pack hunk who lives a flashy lifestyle. Aside from his lobangs, Xavier writes about everyday, mundane things — just like his egg rice and noodles tweet. He’s “real” to a fault, and appears to have become critically-acclaimed just by being himself.

Gabriel Lee, a 25-year-old teacher, believes Xavier offers something unconventional that no person or platform can perfectly emulate. He started to take notice of Xavier’s photography skills before the days of his Twitter-fame and has become an avid supporter since.

“He’s doesn’t need to say much beyond the 140 characters,” Gabriel, who goes by the Twitter handle @GabZChris, explains. “His few words and accompanying photography make him and his updates accessible and easily attractive.”

“I think he’s well-received because his content is not difficult to digest. It suits the attention span of the younger generation,” observes Clara Tan, a 21-year-old student. Although she does not follow him personally, she occasionally chances upon his updates from her @studsnpeaches Twitter handle.

Unlike the rest of the influencer industry, Xavier does not take a cent for his Tweets. He often declares that he pays for his own food and entrance fees. Cynics might call this naive or unrealistic, but to his fans, this makes him credible.

“If it’s a sponsored post, there’s always the question on whether the influencers are doing it for the money or if they really believe in a product,” says Clara, who also describes the current influencer scene as “sucky”.

While there’s nothing wrong with influencers making money or getting paid for sponsored posts, the fact that Xavier is a non-profit personality is refreshing. Beyond the extraordinary photographs, all he wants is to be someone who is heartfelt in his efforts.

“I feel that if you don’t get paid to do a certain thing, you would be more honest and less biased. It is a unique strategy on my end to do something like this,” Xavier says.

And although the hobbyist photographer is often lumped into the same category as other influencers, he is seen as someone who doesn’t have the problems that are commonly associated with the industry.

For one, even though we live in a time where controversy attracts viewers, Xavier is perhaps the most “positive” influencer you will ever meet. He avoids unnecessary drama (think the Faves Asia saga or Xiaxue supporting Donald Trump), and is supportive of many local causes.

For instance, Xavier’s tweet about Pink Dot and his comment about how straight people should be allowed to support the freedom to love without being judged received 1590 retweets and 1781 likes. Responses from Xavier’s Pink Dot tweet were overwhelmingly positive as well, many who preached his tweet and calling him a good example. And of course, complimenting him on how “unproblematic” he is.

He was also applauded for his efforts in giving back to the Muslim community.  Recently, he helped to donate food items to a Muslim charity and documented his experience breaking fast in a mosque.

“He really opens up his horizons to learn about other cultures, activities, places and products in Singapore. He goes out of the way for them, regardless of invitation, ” says James, one of his followers on Twitter.

Because of his neutral and politically correct personality, Xavier is able to navigate touchy subjects such as race with ease. He is very careful with his words, and his views on societal issues are often neutral, or at least aligned with the majority of his followers.

In other words, even if you wanted to hate him, it’s very difficult to find a reason to do so.

“Do you feel that there is too much negativity surrounding influencers, especially now that there are more and more of them getting criticised for unpopular opinions or selling out?” I ask, hoping that he would speak his mind.

“I guess so, a lot of people are trying to leverage on the trend to get famous or to get more sponsored stuff from brands. But I guess on the other hand, there are also people like myself who are not too focused on trying to make money or get famous out of it,” he replies as objectively as possible, while citing comedian Preetipls as an example.

Perhaps Xavier Lur is popular because we are jaded with the influencer industry.
When I asked him whether other influencers should get more involved in charitable and social causes, he agreed but also reminded me that there’s a lot more to people than just their social media feeds.

“Of course there should be a good balance. But then again, maybe some influencers could be doing charitable acts but choose not to publish it online, you never know,” he said.

Perhaps Xavier was simply being politically correct. But then again, there’s nothing wrong with being polite, at least he does think before shooting his mouth off.

Despite his cautiousness, Xavier’s jovial personality still made me feel like I was talking to a friend. During our interview, he seemed to take a genuine interest in me, and when he asked me about my life, it did not feel like forced small talk. His real-life personality seemed as sincere as his online one, and perhaps this is why he has so many followers.

Similarly on Twitter, he treats his supporters like they are his friends. He puts in effort to get to  know them, seeks their advice, and calls them “bros”. There’s a personal touch to his interactions with his followers, and this is something which is missing from the way many social media influencers handle their public relations.  

So is Xavier the saviour to all our online woes? The anti-dote to the big bad influencer?

If there’s anything for certain, it’s this. Xavier Lur is the Mr. Nice Guy of the local Twitterverse.

In an age where everyone on the Internet seems to be asserting their identity, Xavier’s laid back and neutral personality is truly refreshing. Nice guys do not finish last, at least in a social media context.

His conscious decision to do this without getting paid shows that there is more to life than just materialistic needs or digits in the bank account. Being able to form authentic friendships online is something that can’t be bought. As such, Xavier not selling anything is possibly his biggest selling point.

If anything, his rise to Twitter stardom seems to suggest that we are jaded with the influencer industry. Perhaps we’re tired of the endless sponsored posts, the nasty comments and the frivolous high-profile spats.

Perhaps we just want someone who resonates with our ideals with no ulterior motives, like Xavier.  

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