We are living in Facebook Era: The impacts of virtual community on real offline world

Right this minute, there are about 1.5 billion people are on Facebook (Statista 2015). They are interacting with their families, friends, online lovers or business partners all over the world. They update where they are going, what they are eating and who they are being with, in every minute. They feel free to talk with each other and never mind the geographical barrier. The reason is that now we are living in Facebook Era, where we are closer to each other than ever before.

Facebook-connectionSource: telegraph.co.uk

In 2015, Facebook surpasses 17 popular social networks to be the first one due to its 1.5 billion registered accounts (Statista 2015). Following Facebook is QQ with 829 active users, whereas, Instagram and Google+ rank 9th and 10th by 300 million users for each. So, why Facebook is different from other social networks such as Google+, Twitter and Instagram? According to Shih (2009), Facebook sets it apart from the rest by providing three aspects: trusted identity and clearly defined networks, exclusiveness and continual engagement (new feeds). Firstly, the effective means of confirming online identity makes Facebook users exposes clearly to the real offline world. In fact, Facebook asks users to use their real names on Facebook to prevent degraded strangers, spam and junks from anonymity accounts (Lee 2013). Secondly, Facebook plans and control jumps in site traffic by its web design. Thirdly, Facebook encourages people to come back to the site by providing them wall posts, photos, videos which update about friends’ recent activities. This broadcast keeps users away from losing interest and getting new feeds is one of the reasons why people prefer returning to Facebook (Shih 2009). Moreover, a recent research states that today’s popular communities focus on spending online time interacting with people, sharing interests, meeting people, strengthening relationship, and they come to Facebook to make sense of belonging (Lee 2013).

In Vietnam, more than 30 million people (out of 90 million citizen) access Facebook (Vietnamnet Bridge 2014). The diversity of information in Facebook is expressed by bringing audiences news in various aspects such as: latest news about community, recent social issues, most concerned topics. Then just by some clicks, the news is spread out quickly in a very short time. In fact, one Facebook account has maximize 5,000 friends, thus, since one shares a post, thousands of people notice. If it’s a valuable thread which gains lots of “like” and “share”, it could be conveyed to huge Facebook community then has particular impacts on real offline society. For example, the recent issue about chopping down thousands of trees in Hanoi is reported frequently among Facebook community. Ahead of the tree removal, a Facebook page is set up to call for saving trees and against the local government chopping down more trees. After 1 day of publishing, it quickly gathers more than 50,000 followers and articles about felling trees are shared every minutes (RFA 2015). Since an online campaign named “6,700 people for 6,700 trees” has been settled, a revolution protesting against tree felling has taken place in real offline world. Thousands of people go down to the street and demand a half to the chopping down. They mark trees with ribbons and signs with words “I am a healthy tree, please don’t chop me down” (BBC News 2015). They are requesting local government for an appropriate explanation about that tree felling campaign. Finally, Hanoi has to organize a press conference to announce the major decision that they would stop cutting down trees (Vietnam News 2015).

Facebook is one of the most popular social network recent years. Now we could easily understand why Facebook becomes the top site which has most active accounts comparing to other 17 social networks. It’s not only a tool for people to interact with each other in virtual community, but also it has particular impacts on our real-life community.

References:

BBC News 2015, ‘Vietnamese push back on Facebook to save Hanoi’s trees’, BBC News, March 24, 2015, viewed Apr 20, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-31991940

Lee D. 2013, ‘Six ideas for making social media safe – could they work?’, BBC News, August 7, 2013, viewed Apr 20, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-23601986

RFA 2015, ‘Vietnam’s Capital City Backtracks on Tree Removal Plan Following Public Outcry’, Radio Free Asia Organization, Mar 20, 2015, viewed Apr 20, 2015, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/trees-03202015172506.html

Statista 2015, ‘Leading social networks worldwide as of March 2015, ranked by number of active users’, The Statistic Portal 2015, viewed Apr 20, 2015, http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

Shih C. 2009, ‘The Facebook Era: tapping online social networks to build better products, reach new audiences, and sell more stuff’, Pearson Education published, pp.32-42.

Vietnamnet Bridge 2014, ‘Facebook has 25 million users in Vietnam’, Vietnamnet, May 25, 2014, viewed Apr 20, 2015, http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/science-it/103044/facebook-has-25-million-users-in-vietnam.html

Vietnam News 2015, ‘Hanoi stops felling trees’, Vietnam News, March 21, 2015, viewed Apr 20, 2015, http://vietnamnews.vn/society/267881/ha-noi-stops-felling-trees.html

Looking for love? Be aware of online dating.

How many ways can you use to seek someone to date? In the past, you commonly have 4 options. You could just wait and pray that your fate would come. You could beg your friends or colleagues or acquaintances to introduce someone to you. You could be frequent the bars or night clubs to look for potential partners. Or you could join some social activities and be volunteer for community projects then hope that these groups would serendipitously bring you somebody who have common habits. Fortunately, now we have Internet, inexpensive Wi-Fi access and a huge virtual community. Online dating is born and quickly spreads out to become a popular way of romantic dating.

online_dating-1Source: hellogiggles.com

The term online dating refers to Internet dating which is the practice of using dating sites to look for romantic partners. According to recent research, 30% of 7 billion people on the earth now have accessed to the Internet (Miller 2011) and the ubiquity of Internet connection is increased rapidly due to inexpensive Wi-Fi access, especially in Asia (Masden and Edwards 2014). And each year, millions of hopeful relationship seekers use online dating sites as third-party to match love. The reason behind that is about fundamental human motivations which are the need to connect deeply with other people and the need to satisfy intimate relationship (Miller 2011). When those needs are satisfied, their happiness and emotional well-being are increased (Collins 2013). Moreover, Finkel et al. (2012) state that people who use online dating to find romantic partners actually are not much confident in face-to-face dating and they are furtively to minimize their embarrassment. Thus, they are attracted to online dating sites where online community enables them to communicate with potential partners safely and conveniently. Furthermore, Internet dating ameliorates the pursuit of an emotionally satisfied and committed relationship as well as online users could access to as many potential lovers as they want without significant time and effort in normal face-to-face dating.

However, what happens if ones can tailor their self-presentation to become someone else? In virtual community, users could be anyone they want to be just by some clicks and text-typing. Then, they would communicate what they intend to be. Lewis (2008) notes that the virtual world allows people to construct and maintain one or more electric personas easily as long as they have time and energy to create. Some researchers express the concern that online dating encourages crimes related to the ambiguity of user identity. Campbell (2014) states that Malaysia is a global hub for romantic scams with the total cybercrime bill reaches $300 million. The number of Internet scammers using online dating network is increasing rapidly. They take advantage of romantic partners then hack their bank account and arrange money transfer (May 2014). In addition, according to Kyodo (2014), there are 12 Japanese victims of dating scams arraign to claim for ¥200 million back. They are involved in the investment in luxury department which is held by their romantic partners in online dating sites.

These problems of virtual dating partly represent for a future of online dating. Although it has some benefits related to user’s various choices of potential partners as well as time saving and geographical barrier breaking, it still hides lots of crimes and online scammers who takes advantage of our credulity.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/dating-culture-altered-by-digital-matchmaking/

References:

Video: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/dating-culture-altered-by-digital-matchmaking/

Campbell C. 2014, ‘Malaysia is becoming a global hub for internet scams preying on the Lovelorn’, TIME, July 9 2014, viewed Apr 18, 2015, http://time.com/2968765/malaysia-is-becoming-a-global-hub-for-internet-scams-preying-on-the-lovelorn/

Collins M. 2013, ‘Why you should date online and treat it like a job’, Huffington post, 22 Aug 2013, viewed Apr 10 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malcolm-collins/online-dating_b_3789558.html

Finkel E. et al. 2012, ‘Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science’, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, SAGE published, pp.15-52

Fiore A. 2002, ‘Romantic regression: an analysis of behavior in online dating system’, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2004.

Frost J. et al. 2008, ‘People are experience goods: improving online dating with virtual dates’, journal of interactive marketing, vol. 22, no.1, Wiley Inter Science.

Kyodo 2014, ‘Suit filed over dating, property scam’, The Japan Times, Feb 26, 2014, viewed Apr 18, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/26/national/crime-legal/suit-filed-over-dating-property-scam/#.VTIw8CHtmko

Lewis J. 2008, ‘Cultural studies’, SAGA Published, Mar 17 2008, pp. 456

Masden C. & Edwards W. 2014, ‘Understanding the role of community in online dating’, GVU Center and School of Interactive Computing, USA.

Miller T. 2011, ‘The cultural adaptation of internet dating: attitudes towards online relationship formation’, University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertation, paper 1332

Miller V. 2011, ‘Understanding Digital Culture’, SAGE Published, London, pp. 14-33

May J. 2014, ‘How dating scams target older people’, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 3, 2014, viewed Apr 18, 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/national/how-dating-scams-target-older-people-20141002-10p4ft.html

Virtual Community: We are destroying the quality of human communication

We are now living in a technological age where we can travel from the bottom of the sea to the top of the moon, just by a click. We are also living in a technological world where we are all connecting with people while still hiding from each other at the same time. The point is we do not realize that we are turning to technology to feel connected rather than demanding a real friend.

suy-ngam-voi-bo-anh-khi-dam-dong-co-don-va-ngai-noi2-490x315
Source: kenh14.vn

What are ‘Cyberspace’ and ‘Virtual Communities’?

The term ‘Cyberspace’ is used for conceptual space where people using CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) are linked into public discussions which manifest their relationships, data, and wealth, power and words (Peter 1996 & Howard 1993). In cyberspace, people creates another world named ‘Virtual Communities’.

The term ‘Virtual Communities’ emerges from the interchange of technology and humanity. It is a social aggregation of people around the world who stay in the public discussion long enough to be formed in webs of personal relationship in cyberspace (Howard 1993). Furthermore, people in virtual communities have high sense of community which are the feeling of membership, interaction, shared emotional connection, integration and the fulfillment of needs (Peter 1996).

SJ-cyberspaceSource: diginomica.com

We are being alone together.

Although virtual communities and cyberspace bring us to amazing adventures of discovering worldwide, talking to people we haven’t met and learning about everything, they are changing our lives in pessimistic ways. They are not only changing what we do but also changing who we are. Have you ever stopped using technology devices for a second to look at what people around you are doing? Yes, they are buried in their mobiles, tablets or laptops. They are busy with their virtual world.

suy-ngam-voi-bo-anh-khi-dam-dong-co-don-va-ngai-noi14-490x326Source: kenh14.vn

As a study from Nic (2015) about 10 key trends of 2014, the level of smartphone addiction reached new heights and messaging apps became the new focus of digital innovations. In fact, WhatsApp had more than 600,000 users, following by WeChat, Snapchat and Line (Nic 2015). Moreover, Hue (2014) noted in ‘The Home button and boundary line between virtuality and reality’ that the virtual world accidently changed the lifestyle of many families. People would never notice how they addict to virtual stories from virtual friends. They just look down on their smartphones when they are walking on the street or while waiting for a cup of coffee, even when they are in classes, during presentation and actually during all meetings. In some ‘technological family’ nowadays, parents are checking out emails or texting during breakfast and dinner while children are busy with Facebook and Twitter (Ian 2013).That means they are spending more and more time to connect with people in our virtual communities but less and less quality time with their families and friends in real life.

suy-ngam-voi-bo-anh-khi-dam-dong-co-don-va-ngai-noi8-490x360Source: kenh14.vn

As a result, communication in technological age is shifting from face-to-face conversation to texting, posting, chatting and emailing via technology devices. Virtual communities and Cyberspace let people present the self they want to be and they are short-changed themselves for that mere connection (Nafissa 2012). Nevertheless, people are connected more and more to feel less alone but actually they are going to be more lonely because they are getting far away from real-life relationship.

It’s time to talk!

 whitesSource: canalmormon.org

It does not mean that we turn away from technological devices, it is just the right time to reconsider how we use it. Firstly, spend time with our family by making a space for face-to-face conversation. It might be at the kitchen, the dining room or even in tea-time at the back yard. Secondly, change your communication habits by trying to listen to your friends then making real talks. It might takes a bit slowly but it effects quickly. Let’s care for each other and care for ourselves in a real way then we will never be lonely anymore.

High rate TED Talk: Connected, but alone?

References:

Howard R. 1993, ‘The virtual community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier’, MIT Press 1st ed. 2000, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company 1993, US, pp. 325

Hue D. 2014, ‘Nút Home và ranh giới thực-ảo’ (The Home button and boundary line between virtuality and reality), Apr 20, 2014, viewed March 15, 2015, < http://tuoitre.vn/tin/tuoi-tre-cuoi-tuan/20140420/nut-home-va-ranh-gioi-thuc—ao/603396.html >

Ian K. 2013, ‘Your smartphone may be powering down your relationship’, CNN Jan 10, 2013, viewed March 15, 2015, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/10/health/kerner-social-relationship/

Nic N. 2015, ‘Media, journalism and technology predictions 2015’, University of Oxford, , Jan 2015, Digital News Report 2015

Nafissa T. 2012, ‘Connected but alone? Highlights from our Live Conversation with Sherry Turkle’, TED Blog, April 13, 2012, viewed March 15, 2015, < http://blog.ted.com/connected-but-alone-highlights-from-live-conversation-with-sherry-turkle/ >

Peter L. 1996, ‘High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace’, MIT Press Published, vol. 31, p.413