Why can’t I use my Facebook? Did I get locked out of Twitter? What the f**k is going on?! These are all the frustrating thoughts going through my head as I arrive to a hotel in China. “Are you guys having issues with your Facebook?” I ask the group of friends I am traveling with. “Yea man, this is getting on my nerves,” says one my friends. I walk up to the front desk and explain our connection issues. The front desk begins to laugh and explains that these social networks are prohibited in China. I thought the agent was kidding, but after a while he changed to a serious tone. After more investigation, I find out that I will be unable to use these social networks during my stay in China and will have to adjust my life without social media.
This incident happened 3 years ago. I went to China for a study abroad trip for international business. I remember the topic of social media limitations brought to my attention before the trip, but I stupidly ignored it. And as a result of that, I had to have that awkward exchange with the front desk agent. During that time on my study abroad trip, I learned more about social media through its absence than I had by using it.
Here are some key learning’s that I learned from social media’s absence:
A large amount of the world population doesn’t use social media
Social media is still a relatively new communication tool that has only adapted in the western world. To put in perspective, there are still people living without television and telephones.
Social Media is a Life Archive
If I don’t check in to this awesome city, it was like I was never here! Right? This may be an extreme way of thinking of it, but I seriously had these ridiculous thoughts with the absence of social media.
I can be social in real life!
One advantage that I appreciated is that social gatherings were more engaging. Instead of balancing online and real conversations, everybody was forced to interact with each other which caused for some of best bonding memories I have ever had.