by Eriko Maruyama
In 2012, Facebook users are more than one billion, which is 3rd rank of population following China and India (Lee,D 2012). Facebook enables us to keep regular contact to people all over the world. With globalisation, immigrants move beyond borders, and they are now called ‘transnational migrants’. They are trying to assimilate to host society, but at the same time, they are keeping connection with their mother countries (Levitt, P, 2004). Does Facebook help their transnational communication and keep the ties? If so, why are people still flying country to country to meet people even we have such an excellent innovation?
Facebook help us maintain relation with family and friends, even we cannot make calls, or send texts often, It would be very helpful for immigrants to keep their links with home communities. Moreover, Facebook may ease the difficulties and hesitation of emigrants to move to foreign countries because they can have everyday connection with their family and friends via Facebook. Some people are addicted to Facebook. One statistic shows that majority of social networking users use Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family. Candidates also answered that the advantages of SNS are enabling us to keep connection with people who live far away and to speak with them more often. On the contrary, the candidates point out the disadvantages as waste of lots of time for using it (APS, 2010). As this result shows, many users tend spend much time for checking ‘news feed’ on Facebook, and even more, some of them are addicted to it. In this context, therefore, it is possible to say that Facebook keeps immigrants stay in front of computers and prevents them from assimilation to the host society. Also, the more people check what is going on in their origin community, the more they would miss their home and this would accelerate their sense of belonging to their home.
However, Facebook is not a globalising affair at all. This phenomenon is happening only in the American continent, Europe, and some countries in Asia. In China and Russia, the access to Facebook is regulated and there are few users in central Africa as well. (see the picture below). In addition, why do we still fly to abroad for business meeting or visit family even we can make regular contacts by Facebook? I consider that it is still important for human being to meet people directly. We cannot make reliable relation online. Relationships among human are sensitive and complicated. We need hugs sometimes.
In short, Facebook actually has been changing our social connection and life styles, but still it is just online network. Apparently, it enables transnational communication and immigrants can keep connection through Facebook. However, Facebook is merely a tool of communication. It is difficult to conclude that we do not need to physical meeting because we do have Facebook. Paradoxically, Facebook may make people more missing their home community and promote returning to their countries.
Lee, D (2012) ‘Facebook surpasses one billion users as it temps to new market’, BBC News Technology, Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19816709
Levitt, P (2004) salsa and ketchup: transnational migrants straddle two worlds. Contexts, Vol 3, issue 2, pp20-26
The Australian Psychological Society (2010) The social and Psychological Impact of Online Social Networking. APS National Psychological Week Survey 2010.