Thai Youth of Social Media World Live As 80s Youth?
It was Sunday afternoon: I was curled up on sofa scrolling on my phone while my parents sitting near me were watching television. The giant rectangle screen appeared one of the most famous films in Thailand. I did not care, until the very sweet voice of a female character in the film diverted my attention from the phone. My eyes left from the tiny screen to check up on the bigger one. Observing the character’s clothes, I realized that the film was very old. “It’s Boonchu 2,” said my mother who saw that I was interested in her afternoon TV program. Boonchu 2 is a 1989 film, in which the story is about the teenagers in the period. I watched to the end wondering how those 80s teenagers could live without any social media. According to the film, their routines are not different from nowadays teenagers’ routines. The only thing missing is social media. For example, while we can arrange the group meeting at one time, they have to spread by word of mouth. Even when they want to know their university entrance results, what they have to do is to call or check at the university themselves unlike in the present that we can just check on university’s social media.
Despite the simple life, the communication in the 80s world seems to be more complicated and two thousand time harder. This film brings up a question to me whether we would really be happy if we turned back to the world without social media again. In my opinion, we would be happy, but it is the happiness in exchange for the struggle for harder life which is resulted from worse communication.
Social media is “a phenomenon that has transformed the interaction and communication of individuals throughout the world” (Edosomwan1). The research reveals that social media includes every social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Some might not know that chatting applications are also counted as social media as well. Akintola Mubarak also reveals that Whatsapp is one of social media platform because it is “a mobile messaging platform which makes communication easier and faster thereby enhancing effective flow of information and idea sharing” (1). Likewise, Line used in Thailand is the same thing: it is one of social media platforms. Social media was not a new idea. However, it was developed and published officially in 1990s. Therefore, it is not surprising that we cannot see 80s Thai teenagers in Boonchu 2 using any of social media.
I, googling on how quitting social media can change each life, found out that most people feel better after stopping using social media because they can take up a hobby and spend more time with family (Raunakh 6). Moreover, SCL healthcare organization also guarantees that quitting social media would help with more happiness, higher self-esteem, and better sleep at night. It seems like there are barely people talking about how struggle the communication without social media is, so I decided to interview my own parents, Mr. Thanayosand Mrs. Panitta Theppichaiyanon, about how their lives have been changing throughout the time since they were both the youth living in Boonchu 2 age(80s) as well as the adults in the present world—the world of social media.
“Oh! my life has been changing a lot,” said both father and mother.
“In a good way?” I asked.
They looked at each other before saying that, “Specifically good.”
“In 80s, we had to call to arrange an appointment with friends. Even worse, we did not have a mobile phone at that time because it was too expensive, so we used a payphone, which was sometimes annoying because of the long line. Conversely, smartphones are very necessary nowadays because everyone communicates through those social media. For social media, I mostly worry about the safety, but apart from that, I am so happy with it. It keeps everyone closer. I join every Facebook group of my high school and university friends. We either arrange an appointment, or share our lives in case we cannot meet. Facebook is very useful.” warmly smiled my mother
“80s payphones could call only a person at a time, but Facebook and Line can do a group call. We can talk to more than ten people at a time. It is very amazing. We can even do a video call. Moreover, I love that people can also share news on Facebook, too. Now, I barely watch TV because I learn news from Facebook. Sometimes TV does not even tell the truth,” laughed my father.
I asked whether they would be fine without social media. They agreed with each other that they would be fine: it was just that their lives were going to be hard like it used to be when they were teenagers. They said if they were youth in present age, they would prefer the world with social media because it helped their lives more comfortable and faster. “We do not want to use payphones once again.”
Apart from my parents’ interview, I also carried out a survey on how many people who have tried social detox, how they feel about it, and whether they want to turn back to the age of non-social media like 80s. Out of40 youth respondents—aged between under 20-24—, there were only 24 respondents who had tried social detox. The rest of them did not want to try it because they did not feel depressed or feel negatively while using social media. Also, they thought that social media helped them to communicate with people. Nine out of 24 who had tried social detox completely quitted all kind of social media while up to 15respondents were still using social media in chatting platform like Line and Snapchat. When asking about the result of their social detox, I found out that there were only five people who were not affected by the lack of social communication. Meanwhile, there were up to 19 people who felt like they were cut out of the society. Although 12 out of 19 had improved their mental health and the rest did not feel the change, no one in both groups know what was going on with their friends and even the world while detoxing: they were abreast of time. Importantly, despite 24 respondents who had tried social detox, 82.5% of all, or 33 respondents, had voted for living in the world of social media rather than non-social media 80s. This shows that social media plays a crucial role in communicating and receiving news for the youth in the present age.
I do not argue that quitting social media and living like 80s youth can improve your mental health and make you feel happier, but personally, it is just your happiness has to be in exchange of harder communication because everything is going to be hard: personal chats, group appointments, or even the way to receive the news. You cannot change the world of social media, but you can change yourself to not overuse it: you should be the one who control those new technology, not let the technology control you. If you run away from social media right now, you, as a youth who have to live for more years, will run away from every new technology coming in the future world. Therefore, what youth can do the best is to adapt with it and use it as careful as you can.
Boonchu2. Director Bundit Ridtakol. Five Stars Production, 1989. Film
Edosomwan, Simeon. “The History of Social Media and Its Impact on
Business.” The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship,
Minot State University, 16.3(2011).
Mubarak, Akintola. “Usage of Whatspp as a Social Media Platform among
Under gratuates in Kwara State. ”Nigerian Journal of Educational
Raunakh, Marzia Andleeb. “Effects of Quitting Social Media.” St. Phimomena
SCL Health Organization. “The Pros and Cons of Quitting Social Media.”
Theppichaiyanon, Kulrisa. Social Media, Questionnaire. 17 Dec, 2020.
Theppichaiyanon, Thanayos and Panitta. Personal Interview. 16 Dec, 2020.