How I use Social Media to keep connected with my Family
Back in 2003, my mother got a job as a nurse at Frankston Hospital in a little suburb of Melbourne called Frankston. Always being a tight knit family, my dad and I left South Africa with her to settle down in Australia. It was an exciting adventure on one hand (especially since we were experiencing so many new things that we’d never experienced before – like flying on an airplane) but on the other hand, it was hard to leave behind our family and friends.
One of the first things I noticed about Australia, was how much more technologically advanced it was in comparison to South Africa. My peers in year eight knew more about computers and social media than my ‘computer technology’ teachers back in South Africa. And mediums like email, which I never really knew much about before, became a central part of my life in communicating with others.
Email was also handy in communicating with our family back in South Africa as well, but it was still a new technology in South Africa and only a few family members, who worked in corporate sectors or were in University, had access to it.
In addition, when something momentous happened like weddings or births, family members with access to email found it troublesome to upload photos or videos to send to us because of the limited attachment space on emails.
So when Facebook first came around, I hoped that at least some of my family member’s would join since it was so easy to use, but I wasn’t too expectant.
However, Facebook completely shattered my expectations. Within the first year that I joined the site (2008), I was already in contact with ten new family members. Since then, I’ve been in contact with most of my immediate family and have even formed bonds with distant relatives who I never thought I’d ever see again.
Through the site, my parents and I have been able to participate in the excitement of my cousin’s wedding through wall posts and status updates to seeing photos newly born nieces and nephews, only a few minutes after their birth thanks to mobile uploads.
I believe that the reason that Facebook has taken off so quickly in countries such as South Africa, although not as technologically advanced as countries like Australia, is because of easy access.
Although most of my family and friends don’t have computers, most of them have smart phones such as Blackberry’s, which can be taken on cheap plans from network providers and therefore have access to Facebook Apps or Facebook via text messaging, and of course access to many other social media sites available.
At the moment, very few members of my family have accounts with video chat services such as Skype so I’m really excited about the Facebook-Skype integration and can’t wait to see where it takes me in terms of connecting with my family overseas.