Because Facebook is Filipino
I can vividly remember the first time I learned what Facebook is all about. It was in 2007- when a close friend of mine living halfway around the globe was nowhere to be ‘found’ except on this social networking site. I created an account, added him as my first friend, and used the account for mere communication with him. I had so much hesitations on creating an account back then- without knowing that the very site will have 400 million active users by 2010.
Yes, 400 million, and as I think of it, I can imagine almost the whole world is in Facebook. I decided to use and update my own account in April 2009 because of some personal matters. I was surprised to see that my batchmates, classmates, friends I met in my 12 years of being a student could only be found in one site. The summer in 2009 gave me a hard time dealing with some emotional problems (yes, I was that serious, haha) and so, I decided to give my life a new taste. One of these was to join a new social networking account than Friendster, which I had used for three years, and make new friends. Luckily, I found a ‘home’ in Facebook.
And I found a new ‘home’ in the company of my new-found Korean friends online. It is really difficult to find foreign friends online who have the same interest as you do, whom you like, and like you back. One of them, a really dear friend, posted in her account last week:
Yes, Facebook is not widely used by South Koreans. But according to the 2009 Internet World Statistics, South Korea ranks as the fourth country in Asia who has the most number of Internet users. Philippines, where members of social networking sites (and some of them have multiple accounts even), ranks in the sixth place.
South Korea has a huge number of Internet users but some of them have accounts on Facebook. There are Korean social networking sites, too, such as Cyworld (minihompy) http://www.cyworld.com/ss9696, and Korean celebrity news say that using Twitter is an emerging trend there nowadays. However, despite ranking two places below South Korea, Philippines can be inferred to hold a huge number among the 400 million Facebook users or even all Filipino Internet users have own Facebook accounts. My theory or idea before that Facebook is trans-cultural and universal is now wrong. Then, what is it in Facebook that makes Filipinos addicted to using it?
Only in the Philippines
I believe that Filipino culture and values has a lot to do with the rise of Facebook (FB)usage in the country. Many would say that Filipinos are social people and that makes FB usage even more rampant. But then, aren’t other cultures social as well? It’s striking to note that Friendster and Facebook were and are both widely used by Filipinos although the two do not have the same features. Aside from adding friends, posting comments, and posting and uploading photos or videos, the two sites have their own qualities. What does these sites, FB in particular, have that make Filipinos so receptive? Here are some Filipino values related to communication that Tomas Andres discussed in his book, Filipino Behavior at Work.
The Filipino Sociostat
According to Tomas Andres (2001), this is the Filipino tendency to stay in the group rather than to stick out. Filipinos are part of a collective culture still no matter how the principles of individualism apply to some aspects of our culture. It is still Filipino to identify one self in a group and enjoy the company of a certain one. Perhaps, peer pressure can be one of the factors that influence one to have his or her FB account as everybody in school or workplace talks about the latest fanpage or FB application there is. Bandwagon could be another. Everyone has his or her accounts and that is the only reason why a person should create his or her own. Reasons like these. But then, it is still evident in Filipino culture to be part of a whole or a group rather than enclose oneself to being alone.
Tomas Andres also classifies this Filipino value related to communication to be the tendency of Filipinos to know the private or secret life of a person and to spread such secrets. He also accounts that this is the favorite pastime of Filipinos at the expense of others. True enough, who disagrees that most of the tsismis we know now are the information we read in our friends’ posts in their walls? Our own ‘Home’ page in our own accounts is open (unless we filter or hide some friends’ updates)- we can view and know what our friends are up to, are feeling, or are planning to do with no so much effort at all. Sometimes, even though we did not intend to, we come to know those information. Moreover, the ‘comment’ feature of FB in every post allow us to ask further or give our reactions to our friends. When there is something we read new or unusual in FB, we can’t help to comment. We can’t help to discuss among ourselves online a certain issue.
Filipinos are non-confrontational people in general. We have to prevent conflicts as much as possible even though it takes for us to conceal what we genuinely feel or think. Communication, then, becomes high-context because the real meaning of a Filipino’s statements are no longer explicitly stated. Andres calls parinig, letting the intended party hear by speaking to a different person, is a way of communicating the truth without hurting the feelings of the receiver. In Facebook context, posting a status, liking a page, or allowing or joining an application can be considered how this communication style is apparent.
See? Even conversations are in the Internet now, Filipino idiosyncracies, particularly in communication, will stay the same.
This entry was posted on July 17, 2010 by thetrialballoon. It was filed under OrCom152 and was tagged with Filipino communication, Filipino culture, New Social Media, Organizational Communication, UP Manila.