Pictures from the Saigon Tweetup on November 25th, 2014

Just a few pictures from our merry little Tweetup last night at Game On in downtown Saigon.

2014-11-25 21.03.12
The Saigon Tweetup!
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@layered, @LeHaTu, @jon7b, @ericburdette and @ChristophK2003 (more active on @evecoo). Thanks to @CotterVN for snapping this pic!
2014-11-25 20.03.22
@layered, @LeHaTu, @sapuche, @dfgvietnam and @lienh.

 

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Tics of Twitter

I never really used Twitter much before moving to Saigon in 2010. Before that, Twitter was mainly my medium for updating my Facebook status from my old (and decidedly un-smart) phone via text message. Over a couple years in Saigon, however, I came to rely on Twitter as a place to get recommendations on where to find things and how to get stuff done. One specific example is this: In the midst of one workday, I felt like a turkey sandwich. Don’t know why, but I just felt like one. I posted that thought on Twitter, and a few people got back to me about where they’d found decent turkey sandwiches in Saigon, and that evening I had a turkey sandwich for dinner.

Being in another country and culture, Twitter was a way for us expatriates in the city and the nation converse with each other about our ups and downs and where to find a decent hamburger too. It was pretty nice tool for a place with no large online resources and a culture where a substantial amount of getting things done relies on who you know.

With an above average number of intelligent and tactful users, Twitter for expatriates in Vietnam was great. And when we learned that we would be moving to the U.S., I was hoping to find a place in the Twitter community in Eugene, Oregon too. I started out by following a few folks I found through searching, including a few local companies too, but there is a completely different attitude regarding Twitter in the liberal Northwest in the Land of the Free.

My takeaways so far have been this: There are a lot of people who call themselves “social media experts” and seriously just flood Twitter with posts, retweets and links so that it just clogs up my flow and I can’t stand it. Being in a university town, there are lots of college students on Twitter too. Let’s just say that I’m glad I didn’t have Twitter when I was in college, otherwise my silly moodiness would’ve been captured forever by the Library of Congress. The local companies that I tried following just further flood Twitter with links and stupid questions in the lame attempt to “engage” people through this medium.

What was a very helpful tool in a foreign land is exactly the opposite in the land where it was invented. There seems to be a purposeful effort to not engage with others on Twitter without ulterior motives and I have yet to find a community of users even slightly like what I experienced in Vietnam. Oddly enough, I now use Twitter to keep up with people in Vietnam more that I use it to find out what is happening around me locally.

So there you have it. A common online service which became immensely helpful as I explored the largest city in Indochina has become basically a tool for keeping up with those awesome users back there who initially drew me to Twitter in the first place.

I don’t think I can give up social media…

Well, it’s been over 10 days since I reduced my social media usage to a minimum. Unfortunately, over this period, I have come to learn how much I depend on it, especially Twitter. Perhaps it’s just being an expatriate that makes Twitter so useful; it’s basically a mini-expatriate community online, and this can be very helpful at times.

I also found myself logging onto Facebook at one point to find the contact details of a friend who I hadn’t been in touch with for several years. At this point, Facebook is like a friend and acquaintance depository.

So yes, social media, you beat me; I am dependent on you. However, I will attempt to be more mindful when using these services in the future.

Why I’m Cutting Down on Social Media

I’m sick of social media. There, I said it. And I feel better for saying so.

As much as social media platforms get billed as the next big innovation in terms of life and living over the past few years, how much have these services benefited me in real terms? I guess that was the question that took root in my mind. I’d noticed for some time how much of the day I wasted looking through Facebook, scrolling on Twitter, checking in on Foursquare, not to mention the other platforms I’d download to my phone and try, all the while seeking social media enlightenment.

I’d begun to feel overwhelmed and exhausted with social media, while at the same time addicted to it and wanting more posts and links to articles and silly pictures and pithy comments.

Finally, just last week, a well-timed letter (you know, made of paper and ink) arrived from a friend, describing a couple at a restaurant that didn’t interact with each other at all, but instead played on their phones the entire time. I think that was the tipping point. Since then, I’ve uninstalled the Twitter plugin for my computer at work, have not looked at Facebook or Google Plus and have not checked in on Foursquare. Enough is enough.

Short of closing my accounts down, I will instead use them as distribution channels for this blog.

Oh, and just from being off of this social media stuff for a couple days, I can already feel my stress levels falling. There is a ton of information out there, but I’ll just choose to read less of it now.

As far as communicating with friends now, and old-fashioned text message will have to do.