Social media may have taken the world by story, but every country plays a different game. The only constant being that Millennials are the most interested party, followed by middle aged adults and finally, the seniors. It is not hard to understand why: Millennials grew up with a virtual world and those older had to learn their way around it. Furthermore, many adults have become set in their newspaper and coffee ways to try to change their patterns with new and unfamiliar territory that quite frankly, they have no interest in. But it is interesting to see how different countries uses social media much differently from one another.
Current State of Social Media
America has the highest Snapchat engagement, followed by Europe and the rest of the world. Once popular amongst teenagers, its demographic is aging along with the app, with more above eighteens joining in recent years. College students are especially fond of the app and despite Facebook’s attempt at copying its features onto its acquired little brother – Instagram – many users still prefer to snap than to insta-story. However, there is a substantial difference in the numbers of their users. Instagram reports that they have two hundred million users daily, whereas Snapchat only has one point six.
It is worth noting that social media also serves as one of many triggers for mental illnesses, especially anxiety, depression and loneliness. American teenagers cultivated FOMO (fear of missing out) by creating lifestyles that one wishes to achieve in order to seem popular or simply having a good life. Boasting through social media have created a loop that continuously generates negative feedback.
Halfway across the world, Line, a Japanese platform, have taken over Thailand. The success of the app could be, in part, due to its beauty camera – one of the earlier apps to offer filters and beautification effects, and definitely due to its cute designs. The app offers users to send stickers which are less boring and more expressive than emojis. Users might also purchase their favourite packs, such as characters from Sanrio (another Japanese company which is huge in Thailand) to use in their messages. Needless to say, the app has become more popular in Thailand than it is in Japan.
Anyone who has travelled to South Korea knows that Google Maps does not work in the country. There is no way for a traveller to plot out their route through the web-giant as they fear that their enemies across the border would find ways to make use of the information, offering interactive maps over Naver instead. Their top messaging app is not anything most in the West use either; they have their own called Kakao Talk, which also offers video calls amongst other things.
Some Interesting Statistics
Statista put together a chart, detailing the popular apps by countries back in 2017. With Facebook leading the way for many, it has failed to capture the number one spot in eight countries, out of 137, being replaced by LinkedIn or Instagram and in China’s case, Wechat.
What begun as merely a messaging app morphed into so much more as features were added to it. From being able to post moments – a social newsfeed of sorts – to using the app in monetary transactions.
Banned Social Media Platforms
Perhaps the reason as to why China has rejected international mainstream social media lies in its history. A quick look at the past will show that outside influence has not been kind to the land of emperors and rich mythology. Their culture has been eroded by time and the invasion of outsiders, disrupting their simple lives of fireworks, poetry and tea. By taking that into account, it is a no wonder the governments closed its doors to Facebook and Twitter, choosing to create their own monopoly in the field of social media which has been wildly successful.
Despite being notorious for blocking Facebook, China is not the only country that has bans in place. There are six other countries that have an active ban on global social media. One being the democratic Turkey, to the communist North Korea. However, employing the use of one of the many overseas VPNs available on the internet, allows any user to override most of the bans that the various countries have in place.
It also allows people from all over the world to enjoy websites and services that are not available regionally. One interesting community is Viki, an online streaming website that airs Asian dramas and lets its users leave annotations on the episode they have watched, creating a web of international commentary. The only country one would be unable to find would be North Korea.
The only country so far to have build their own self-contained network, allowing only regime elites and university students access to the full spectrum of what is available (or perhaps with discreet bans). Its notoriously secretive community makes it hard for outsiders to understand how drastically different North Korea is. However, BBC managed to get their hands on a list of websites from the country that is accessible to all.
Unfortunately, there is no way to access the private intranet that its citizens is allowed to use and there are no known reports of any kind of social media to exist in their clandestine infrastructure. But the effects of social media (or the lack thereof) is clear in regards to the amount of exposure and behavioural patterns certain nationalities have over others.