Social Media Obsession: Made in America

I grew up in China with a European background. Almost all social media was banned. I did not get sucked into the social media world until I was around 16 years old. But even then, I was not glued to my phone. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States when I was 18 that I became just like everyone else.

China has a communist government with a lot of censorship bands and power. I lived there from the age of seven till 18. I grew up in a culture that didn’t use the “regular” social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Google and Twitter. I used Youku, Baidu, QQ, and WeChat.

The above-mentioned apps are all dupes. The regular social media apps “are replaced by other ones which the government can monitor.” (Newsbeat)

The government monitors everything, yet China “makes up 20% of all the online population. China’s user base reaches higher numbers than Europe and the United States combined.” (mobilemarketer) According to an article sponsored by Native. Doesn’t that sound a little crazy considering they don’t use the same apps as Europe and the United States.

The very first time I went on YouTube I was about 15 years old. I was in my computer design class and I had some time before class started so I went on to YouTube. Why did I go on YouTube for the first time at school? Because in China you needed and still need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get on to Google, YouTube, Facebook and almost everything else. I didn’t have a VPN in my home so I couldn’t go on to those websites.

VPN’s make the WiFi very slow, so there was no point in going on to social media because everything would take too long to load anyway. There was no part of that process that was enjoyable.

Even when I went on holiday in Europe, I didn’t find any of it appetizing. I never went on it at home when I have free time so, I definitely didn’t have any thought to go on it while I was on vacation with my family. Ever since I was very young my parents have engrained into my brother’s and I that technology should never be used when around other people.

I have this mentality still, because I don’t get to see my family that often. Every five to six months and when I am with them, I am only with them for a few weeks. My family and I talk. For hours on end. We never take any pictures because we don’t want to stop a conversation just to take a picture that will become outdated anyway.

In the United States there is a very prevalent mentality of “pics or it didn’t happen,” which is the opposite of how I think. Here, everyone cares about their appearance. Their social media presence and updating everyone on their lives. Even though, most of the time not a lot of people care. The only people that do are family. So why not just talk to them about it? Why post about it for over 700 people to see who just scroll past it.

The only reason most people post on social media is to make sure that they don’t become forgotten. They need to stay relevant and popular.

Notifications are another way of proving to yourself that you are still relevant and popular. They are at the top right- hand corner of apps. They are red. According to an article written by Paul Lewis the Facebook designers that were creating the notification icon. Originally made it blue to match Facebook’s style, but they realized that no one was using it, so they made it red.

Personally, I hate seeing that I have notifications. It excites me yet stresses me out at the same time. It excites me because I feel important. Knowing that someone reached out to me or wanted me to know something. While on the other hand it stresses me out because it could be something that I am dreading or don’t want to respond to.

Rob Horning said, “The point of being on social media is to produce and amass evidence of being on social media.”

2 thoughts on “Social Media Obsession: Made in America

  1. I feel like everyone who has exclusively lived in the United States (including me) needs to read this in order to visualize the perspective of those who were not born in this country. This was really cool because in just a few hundred words I was able to learn so much about the things that you used as a kid. I wish I had your mentality about taking pictures to document your memories. For me it’s more video because I like to post my memories on my YouTube channel so I can rewatch a part of my life whenever I want to. I, however, completely understand where you’re coming from and I feel like it’s important for families to just put down their electronics at times so they can really enjoy their moment together, because you never know if it may be your last. One thing I am pondering is that you said as soon as you moved to the United States at 18 years old, you “became just like everyone else.” I wonder why that was the case. Most likely it had to be that everybody around you was using it and you wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I would recommend turning off notifications for social media so you do not feel the urge to check it as often. Nice post!


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