Social media lifeline for international students

Writer’s note: Published on Meld Magazine earlier this week! Special thanks to those who have filled the original survey and given me great quotes :)

SOCIAL media is for most international students as important as breakfast is for the body. For some, it’s oxygen. 

“I check my Blackberry every morning and the last thing I check is, well, my Blackberry too. I should really change. “ ST ♂

International students spend a third of their waking up time on social media, with more than half making surfing the net a priority in their lives.

The survey was conducted on a sample of 21 Melbourne-based international students aged between 18 and 25-years-old.

Around 60 per cent of students said going on Facebook or Twitter is the first thing they do after waking, and the last activity before bedtime.

International students spend an average of three to four hours per day online, with males and females equally hooked on social media, and the biggest motivation being the need to “be in touch” with the world.

Only one out of 21 international students surveyed didn’t own a smartphone.

Nearly 30 per cent of the students surveyed said they receive complaints about their social media habits, and around 16 per cent of them said they can’t go a day without checking Facebook or Twitter.

“I reckon the only things preventing me from becoming fully addicted are a) my lack of a smartphone prevents me from constantly checking up on social media; and b) all the constant updating gets quite overwhelming after a while, so I stop and take time to process the deluge.” RY ♀

“[Social media] has its pros and cons. It’s a great way to share resources and meet like-minded people. But it may cause unnecessary distractions or divided attention, for example by checking your Facebook or Twitter every opportunity you get.” JT ♂

But while all the students surveyed said they use social media to keep in touch with friends, the majority regard social media as a “double-edged sword”.

Some students cite feelings of irritation when real time interactions give way to social media engagement at social gatherings.

One student said nothing could beat face-to-face meetings ultimately, and wished people would make more of an effort to “put down their smartphones and engage the person sitting in front of them”.

“People need to connect more often, not through the cyber world, but in the real world. It’s sad that technology can ruin people’s relationships. I think too many people try so hard to be famous in the cyber world that they forget how to really ‘connect’ to others,” the student said.

“I think social media is a wonderful tool for connection and networking, but it’s a double-edged sword, because like all powerful tools it can easily be misused to disastrous consequences.” RY ♀

“I miss the good old days where people meet and chat with a real conversation instead of talking about other’s statuses on Facebook or Twitter. That’s just wrong.” CNM ♀

Half of the students surveyed said they rely on social media for their source of news, and more than 80 per cent said they have Facebook “open” while surfing the net.

The survey also showed while most people said they can live a day without social media, many indicated it would usually not be out of choice, but because they are “on holiday”, or have “no connection”.

Two of the students surveyed said the deprivation from Facebook or Twitter for a day would significantly alter their mood.

But it’s not an admission students are proud to acknowledge, like one of the students surveyed, who said that while she had not received complaints from family or friends about her social media habits, she was “disappointed to have spent so much time” online.


The thin red line between telling and spamming

People hate spams, but some spams are not imaginative comments or emails which products do not exist; they are as real as legit Facebook updates.

This is the issue that I have frequently brought up again and again in my blog. When an information goes overdrive, I shut down. I don’t know about you, but the more I see it, the more I thought of it as spamming.

And everyone hates spam.

The case in Twitter

Seeing multiple information being said in Twitter again and again is somewhat less annoying because, let’s face it, Twitter has a 24/7 cycle of life. We follow people from all around the world with different timezone, thus, when a person tweets the same thing over and over and over again for the past week, it’s basically acceptable because, hey, “just in case” the people on the other side of the world haven’t read my precious tweets, I would tweet it once again.

In fact, it’s kind of a norm – we see people tweeting the same thing 5 hours after the first tweet come out. Multiple tweets of exactly the same thing is even productive. It’s something that’s encouraged by Twitter experts. And since it’s just 160 characters or less, even if it’s annoying, it’s forgiven.

The case in Facebook

Facebook, however, is a different case altogether.

How many times organisations or companies or publishers share the same thing over and over and over again? Either none, or not that frequent. Some bloggers might revive their old posts, but it is done after the post is published one month or even one year ago. That is extremely acceptable.

What is annoying is, for someone (or somepage) sharing the same thing over and over and over again everyday or even multiple times during the day. When my Facebook news feed is full of that one single thing, I automatically categorise the information as spamming.

Simply said, the information, no matter how charming it is, has lost its attractiveness.

Sure, many people have done it for marketing, but marketing is not spamming (or I should really say, effective marketing is not spamming). I let TV commercials out of this case because TV is a one-time thing. After it’s seen, we can’t go back and replay it over and over again.

While Facebook, on the other hand, are seen multiple times over the day. You go to Facebook in a hope to see something new, not something similar being told again and again – isn’t it the use of news feed anyway?

And Facebook does not have a 24/7 life cycle. Our Facebook friends are mainly people who we know due to proximity reasons. And most of them have the same life cycle as us. In five to ten minutes, you can catch up with everything that has happened overnight.

In Twitter, except if you are keen, it’s a bit impossible to do that – we accept that we will not read everything that’s happened in Twitter. But in Facebook, we usually will.

“Twitter has such a quick publication frequency that I don’t believe many people will see the Facebook item cross-posted on Twitter. In other words, I believe things can get lost on Twitter.” – Social Media DIY Workshop

Multiple updates of the same thing on Facebook is traceable (except if you happen to have 10,000 friends). You don’t need to tell me twice, thrice, or 49 times, I already know about it!

In 17 worst mistakes companies made on Facebook, the top mistakes are:

1. Posting too often

The most productive Facebook updates are the ones that are published once every two days. Even when the updates differ everyday, it is still not a productive thing to do.

3. Posting multiple times during the day

“Posting more than once a day is overkill and spamming your fans isn’t going to do your company any favours.”

Self explanatory, don’t you think?

4. Posting the same content more than once

“Though I am guilty of doing this in social media, I save it for Twitter not Facebook, where the communication strategy is very different and reposting has benefits.

“If you must post the same content twice, give it a new twist or find a very good reason to tell your fans the same thing more than once.”

The key point is “must”. More often posting the same content twice is not a must, it’s a want of the Facebook page owner!

A very negative post? You might think so. But posting the same thing over and over and over and over again for multiple times for the past one day or one week does not convince me that whatever that’s being posted charming. On the other hand, it’s a self-destructive bomb.

What do you think of multiple updates of the same thing on Facebook? Do you love it, think that it’s okay, or hate it? What if that multiple updates happen on Twitter? Do you have different opinions abut that? Share your thoughts below.

Why customers are the best marketers

If you read my post on Tuesday about Simon Sinek’s talk on Ted, I AM the perfect example of buying a company’s belief, and not what they are offering. Man, I bought a brand new iPad 3 without even bother to look at the specifications!

Apple will be very rich with people like me. I’m not a tech savvy, I have no idea how to, ehm, what’s the term… for..mat…ting? formatting your computer? Anyway, I’m very bad with technology. I used to have a Toshiba Portege laptop, and I have not even the slightest idea about how to use antivirus. Luckily, my nightmare with Windows ended when I decided to pack my loyalty and migrate to Apple.

Currently, I have an iPod Nano (2nd generation) that is still functioning very well despite its old age (eight years old for technology stuffs are considered old, right?), a MacBook White whose age is around two to three years old, an iPhone whose age is two years old, and a brand new iPad 3 whose age is… four days? Oh, I’m a big Apple fan.

my brand new iPad 3

Why? I have no idea. Maybe because it makes my life so much easier. My MacBook can be turned off and turned on in 10 seconds time. Do you know how long does it take for my Toshiba Portege to load? 10 minutes. No joke. And now with the invention of iTunes, iCloud, FaceTime, Apps, and everything else, life is good.

I have seen writers and journos bring their iPads everywhere, and to be honest I quite envy them. They use Kindle (whatever that is, I still haven’t played much with each of the apps that I have downloaded), they read in public transports, they don’t need to bring their heavy laptop to write; well, an iPad is enough.

And you know what? Zite is the best app ever. Like. the. best. It enables you to make your own personalised magazine and just read what you want to read. You don’t need to browse through every newspaper or magazine to get your daily reading fix, you just need to go to one app and BAM, everything is done for you so that you can scroll through your favourite blogger’s website and CNN news stories at the same time. How cool is that.

Yet I don’t know anything about iPad. I have no idea about its resolution, or in what ways it differs with iPad 2. I don’t know how good it is, and I don’t even know what to do with an iPad (like, iPhone is a mobile phone, iPod is an MP3 player. But, iPad?)

But I trust Apple, and that’s enough for me. I believe Apple has done its best to satisfy its customers’ needs, and yes, I am a very satisfied customer, even though at the moment I’m just using 10 per cent of iPad’s full capability. Apple should be very happy having me on board their train.

I don’t know about you, but, I believe in Simon Sinek’s words. Before you promote your products, first of all you need to sell what you believe. Those who have the same beliefs will follow you. Not for you, though, but for themselves.

And that’s the best marketing ever. Because when you follow someone for yourself, you are willing to promote what you believe in with blood, sweat, and tears.

Figuratively speaking, I just did.

Life with social network: Gen Y, what will we become?

Yes, you know it. Those who are born in the mid 1980s until mid 1990s, we are the Gen Y. We are either the smart people who utilise the internet platform or the victims of Facebook and become an addict. We are the ones who read Twitter updates on public transport instead of reading a book. We are the ones who swap newspapers with e-news, birthday cards with Facebook walls, phone calls with e-mails. We are the ones who check our e-mails and social network updates when we wake up in the morning, about 20 times during the day, and just before we about to go to sleep. We are the Gen Y with the internet genetic running deep through our veins.

That passage might be over-exaggerated but you get what I mean. Especially as a media student, you get what I mean.

I became a user of the social media at around 4th grade. It was my first exposure to Friendster, and everyone had an account. So I did it, I faked my age and got an account. I suppose almost all of us did.

Friendster was quite fun for a while but during my junior high school, everyone was migrating to Facebook. When a friend asked me to, I was so lazy to do so, but finally made an account in senior high. Well, I never looked back, and after two whole years of neglecting my Friendster account, I decided to delete it (especially after I knew an incident of someone faking my account, but that’s a different story).

Even before all these social media thingy, I already had an affair with my handphone. During those late junior high school years, I constantly messaged my friends, even at the dinner table. I wonder how I could do that back then.

So here’s the question: Gen Y-ers, do you know the life without social network – the life before?

To answer that question I need to go back to the time when I was 6-8 years old, and it was pretty hard to remember. I remember playing more board games though: UNO, puzzle, Monopoly, and stuffs…? I played outdoor more: roller-blading, cycling, swimming, went to a friend’s house… Come to think of it, I have become an indoor geek at the age of 19, with doing sports once in every two months (excluding walking, of course).

What have I become? I wonder.

Yet if you are a media student like me, and your only source towards the ‘news’ is the Facebook updates (by liking Herald Sun, Psychology Today, MamaMia, etc) and Twitter updates (by following The Age, CNN, NYTimes, etc), it’s actually quite hard to plug off.

So what did I do next? I googled ‘how to know that you are a social network addict’ (wow, I just use google as a verb). I stumbled on the social network quiz, and according to them, I am 32% addicted towards the social media. And out of the 12 signs posted in You know you’re addicted to social media if…, I have 4, so that’s roughly 30%. Plus, according to You know you are a social media addict when… I scored 7 out of 25 points, so it’s about 30% as well.

I wonder what will life become in the next 10 years. or 20. or 30.

I can imagine a life without social network. It’s simple, just like Achilles said in the movie Troy, “Greece got along fine before I was born. And Greece will remain Greece long after I am gone.”

But I can’t imagine a life with the bombardment of social network. Technology will even become more matured in the next decade, and who knows what comes next? We might have robots who do all our works, and the ending will become like the movie I, Robot, or worse, Surrogates.

So the take home message, if any, is to live more in reality.

Handwriting: a sincere form of language

When reading an article one morning titled Handwriting. Do we still need it? I paused a little and thought about that for a while.

“When I told Mia I wanted to write a post about the death of handwriting she suggested I write it by hand. FUNNY! But not such a good idea given we work on the internet and all.”

I have always fancied those who can write really well. I know I can’t, and my handwriting is just on the borderline of readable (it suits my personality actually: a bit messy, not able to sit down properly for more that 30 minutes…). I wish I have a better handwriting, but I haven’t, and I’m okay with it. It’s still a part of me.

So here what I’m going to do: write the post by hand and see if you guys can read it.

And for those of you who do not want to read handwriting, okay, I’ll save you from reading mine. Here’s the typed version:

The article makes me think though, do we still need handwriting? Yes, I personally think we do.

Why? Not only because it’s a beautiful form of language, but it also conveys a person’s personality way more that just the superficial eye can see. Children aren’t supposed to learn how to type before they learn how to write. Typing is just a more convenient thing to do, but like we never forget who we are or where we come from, we shouldn’t forget how to write.

I always sulk to myself: why don’t I just print all the lecture notes and add some notes by my own while listening to the lecturer, instead of writing all the lecture notes plus some more personal notes? Am I that stingy in not wanting to waste the ink printer or the A4 papers? Maybe yes, but come to think of it, that’s the only portal that enables me to write regularly (with the exception of my personal diary, but I don’t write on my diary every day).

I know the joy of typing. We can delete, backspace, put the paragraph here and there and see if whether it fits the rest of the article, and yada yada yada. Yet for personal matters, I believe something written by hand is the sweetest thing of all.

For me, I’d like to see handwritten love letters instead of seeing them typed. I’d like to see handwritten birthday cards instead of e-mails.

And forgive my psychological self, but I believe the experts would be able to see a glance of a person’s personality by looking at his or her handwriting. Well, it’s the one expertise that I have always wanted to have.

So, what will the future hold? It is likely, even very likely, (with the invention of iPads, iPhone, iEverything) that handwriting will be ancient in the future. It’ll save the poor high school teachers trying to read 90+ students’ awful handwriting, yet it will also make the world miss one important thing: the feelings conveyed in handwriting often are more beautiful than those conveyed in typing. For me, they are more sincere.

How important is your Facebook relationship status?

Special thanks to those of you who took part in this survey. Special thanks to my editors and to Meld Magazine for running the story! Check the original version here.

IT’S official, boys care more about their Facebook relationship status than girls.

A recent poll of 138 single and taken Facebook users, aged 18 to 30, busted the myth that girls put more stock in how their relationship is presented on social networks.

The boys surveyed believed them and their partners should declare their relationship on Facebook the moment things become official.

One of the boys confessed it was an example of a “man’s pride and ego”, which according to psychology is a bit of a stereotype, but it totally makes sense.

On the other hand, girls don’t think their Facebook pages are that important and prefer not to change their status. Don’t believe me? It’s true. Many confessed they feared the possibility of breaking up and thus becoming a subject to gossips.

Some of the girls in this group admitted to changing their Facebook statuses anyway, just to avoid fighting with their boyfriends.

And now, a fun fact: Only 13 per cent of couples surveyed hadn’t changed their status on Facebook.

“It’s important and I will change my status.”

The majority of the girls who fitted into this category said declaring their relationships on Facebook was a sign of their commitment to their partner.

These girls said they were comfortable with their partners and wanted to share their happiness with their friends. They also said it was a convenient way to tell their friends and families about their new partner.

The boys in this category weren’t feeling so charitable. They declared their relationships for security reasons, saying it prevented their partners from flirting with other people and keep other from flirting with their partners.

Some honest single guys even confessed they’d prefer it if girls declared their relationship status so they knew who was on the market and who wasn’t!

“I think it’s not right to say you’re single when you’re actually not. By having a ‘in a relationship’ status on Facebook, it means you’re acknowledging your relationship with your boyfriend to your friends, families and other people.” MC ♀

“Letting others know that you’re in a relationship allows you to set up a barrier. I mean, I’m sure it’s uncomfortable getting messaged every minute by a boy friend that’s not your boyfriend.” RE ♂

“It’s not important and I won’t change my status.”

Surprisingly, there were striking differences between in this category.

Most girls reasoned changing relationship status was risky because there’s always the chance of breaking up. Even if they’re committed, they could go from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘single’ any time and people might start making up stories about why they broke up.

Boy in this category played the privacy card, insisting they wouldn’t tell strangers their bank account numbers, so they don’t see why they should their ‘not-so-close’ and ‘non-friends’ on Facebook about their relationships.

“I think I’d rather tell someone in person about my relationship status than publicise it on Facebook. It’s just nicer that way. I don’t want it to be the subject of talks by other people (aka gossip), especially if I end up breaking up with that person.” IC ♀

“Changing the relationship status will indirectly pressure both sides who are in the relationship. They’ll feel as if they’re on display, especially if there are certain expectations from family and close friends.” AK ♂

“It’s not important, but I’ll change my status.”

A third of the people surveyed, fell into this category, and most of them were girls.

The single ladies said if their future boyfriends were to send them a ‘relationship request’, they wouldn’t decline it.

But the majority of girls in this category were already in a relationship. They confessed changing their status wasn’t important at all, but being ‘Facebook official’ was a small sacrifice to avoid fighting with their partners.

The boys in this section said they didn’t care, but changed their status to give their girlfriend’s a sense of security. They also insisted they were confident enough in their relationship to let their friends and family know about it.

“I honestly think it’s really bothersome. If say, a relationship ends, then you have to change the status back and everyone will make a fuss out of it. I wouldn’t change my status if my boyfriend didn’t ask me to.” PE ♀

“As long as we know we’re together, that’s all that matters. But I still think it’s nice to change your status. And if I should cross that bridge one day, I would definitely change my status because I’d want my friends to know the great girl I’m in a relationship with.” AS ♂

“It’s important, but I won’t change my status.”

Interestingly, only two of the boys surveyed thought changing their Facebook status was important, and yet haven’t done it. Why, you ask? To avoid gossip, of course!

“It’s important because it’s a signal to other people to stay away. But then, I’m reluctant to publicise it. There are some annoying people in my friends list that I don’t want to know, and I’d rather avoid them.”AS ♂

Couple’s Corner

The couples in this category have all changed their Facebook statuses, but that doesn’t mean they share the same opinion on the matter.

Couple #1

“I think it’s important because if my status changed to single, some people would ask, ‘Are you having problems with your boyfriend? Are you guys still together?’ Plus, I think the status implies he’s mine.” SS ♀

“Not important at all in my opinion. I changed my status because my girlfriend asked me to. Facebook is not an ID, so why should we share our personal information?” FG

Couple #2

“Initially I thought I would just leave my status blank until I got married. But I did change my relationship status on Facebook because my boyfriend requested it! It was important to him and I think he’s proud of our relationship and wanted to tell everyone.” JP ♀

“I think it’s very important. My Facebook status is how the world sees me. I think once a couple makes their relationship official, there should be a discussion about changing their status.” PL ♂

So how much does Facebook’s “in a relationship” status mean to you?

the first 300 seconds

WOULD you like to know how I spend my first 300 seconds of the day? It is THE routine.

me and my faithful companion

The first 20 seconds, of course, would be wasted on trying to find my handphone, and there are two fantastic reasons for this. One, because I need to turn off the alarm. Two, because I need to check on why the alarm does not ring – I have a feeling that it’s already late. Voila, I forgot to actually set it on.

With my iPhone in hand, here comes the most exiting part: plugging in to the rest of the world.

First 60 second: YahooMail. Scanning through the inbox just in case something important happens (which turns out to be very rare, based on previous experience). Instead I spend the next minute deleting some unimportant hoax mails, the new iTunes and Borders catalogue (yes, Borders, I don’t even know which store is still open. FYI, Borders, the big bookshop, is closing one by one in Melbourne…). And do you know the problem with being The Age subscriber? You will just scan through the headlines and skim through the first paragraph, feeling like you already read the whole article.

Going on, I’ll be using the next 60 seconds to check my WordPress emails, just in case, someone drops a comment who will appreciate an immediate feedback or something. Then I’ll be checking my WordPress stats, and WordPress this, and WordPress that. Life of a blogger.

The next minute I’ll try skimming my other emails: Meld Magazine email, Gmail, Unimail, my yet another yahoomail that I use for Facebook, and my hotmail. Seeing a reminder for your next article can be a horror when you just wake up in the morning. Or yet another notification of assignment will scare you to death.

That’s 200 seconds already.

Then I’ll quickly take 30 seconds to skim my personal messages, what’s app chats, and Facebook notification. Next, 60 seconds on Twitter. Oh, Steve Jobs quits Apple. WHAT? And Melbourne is now the most livable city in the world. Wow.

290 seconds gone, and by now my eyes are overly exposed to a lot of technology with those tiny word fonts. So, I have about 10 seconds to decide whether to kick the blanket or go back to bed.

The latter wins.