By Princess Fatimah Tariq
Today more than 400 million people are active users of Facebook. 50% of the active users log on to Facebook on any given day. That’s about 200 million people in the world. And whats the surprising this is that people spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook just to update themselves on their family and friends whereabouts. (Source: Facebook Statistics)
In my opinion, Facebook has had a much significant impact on Asians than on the Western side of the world. I would elaborate on this by segmenting them as follows:
Social Aspect / Cultural Aspect
By nature, Asians are known to be conservative and reserved. They tend to stick to their own business and are not as bold as westerners when it comes to socializing. The reasons for this may vary. Some say its because of the way Asians up-bring their children, and others say because they find themselves on a disadvantage when conversing in English. Facebook is a platform that allows people to communicate with both Asians and Westerners. It also gives those who use English as their second language, to take their own time to construct sentences and reply in English. In addition, the social networking site allows shy people to remain in their comfort zone (i.e. in their houses) while communicating with the world. This is why sites such as twitter, blogger, wordpress and facebook have encouraged all those “quiet” Asians to voice out. Countries such as Iran, Egypt and Pakistan, are seeing an increasing number of citizens communicating and speaking freely about their thoughts through such platforms. Facebook plays a role in changing the way Asians behave and act these days.
On the other hand, Facebook allows others to interrogate into ones life and seek information that might be personal. Having a profile on Facebook would allow people to know how I look like and the way I dress. It makes one feel that there is no privacy. This affects Asians such as people who come from reserved background or staunch religious groups (Muslims for example), who are not very open minded and might get agitated with the way people of their “caste” are behaving.
Six days ago I got the news that “George W. Bushes opens a facebook account”. This doesn’t come by as a surprise to me as he is not the only politician on Facebook. To name a few, we have President of U.S.A Barrack Obama, Former President of Pakistan Pervaiz Musharraf, President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and the list could go on. (click on the word list to see more names).
“Facebook leaders say their plan is to provide a forum for politicians of all stripes to reach one of the most sought-after demographics — young people who have turned away from television and newspapers. And the site — by one measure the seventh most popular in the United States — has already experienced overwhelming demand from candidates of both parties, though a spokeswoman would not name names”, quoted from Boston National News.
Facebook is seen as a means to “speak” to the younger generation. It allows politicians to express their thoughts in a much cost effective and fast way. However, if you look at it from a normal citizen’s point of view, one must becareful of what he/she is saying. People risk speaking back to the politicians. To express their thoughts in return. You never know the next moment you might receive a sue letter from the court. One example would be that of my high-school classmates facebook comment:
Arooj above wrote in Urdu (national language of Pakistan) that she feels that the leaders ruling Pakistan are corrupted. Mehzaab agrees with Arooj and Ticky warns her to be careful of what she has written. The above comment was posted today (9th June 2010). This shows us that today many people have their own agreements and disagreements with politicians but Facebook being a transparent platform it is easy for politicians to be dominant and sue those who are just expressing their thoughts with no intention of inflicting harm.
Many people see Facebook as a site that also helps build career prospects. It allows Asians who usually stick within their circle to network with others from the other side of the world. They can get away from just interacting with their high school friends and start networking with those from their industries. It also enables people to speak directly to the industry experts and if they have a good, detailed and complete Facebook profile, it is bound to impress the potential employers. In basic words, it allows people to market themselves to the world.
However, to use Facebook to impress your potential or current employers is very hard. It means you would have to make sure you do not have inappropriate pictures in your account, you would have to restrict the comments you make on Facebook to only those that you employer would like and ensure you do not post information that might conflict against your resume.
Facebook has opened many opportunities for the public, especially those who come from Asian countries. Most of the Asian countries are still developing and Facebook permits Asians to learn from the world and see the way Westerners think. It lets Asians speak out what they are going through and deliver their message to the world. It open doors for professional networking and make friends with same and different religions, ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds.
Yet, there are also questions on privacy and risks. It could conflict with Asians reserved nature and cause family humiliation. Furthermore, Facebook being such an open platform, governments fear that their citizens would get out of control. This is why Facebook is making governments implement stricter laws and control the freedom of its citizens. This has been the case of China who are right now fighting against their freedom to express their thoughts on the web.
Hence, Facebook is both good and bad. 🙂