For the next several days, I will be ensconced behind the Great Firewall of China and untouchable by Facebook, Google, YouTube, and 2,700 other websites which the People’s Censor has deemed to be unbrowseable.
Iran, Vietnam, and North Korea are also on the list of blockers, but I think it is just me-too-ism.
The problem, as you might well imagine, is a weighty one. For these dark days, I will not know how to LIKE anything. I will be unable to share. I will, moreover, be unlikeable as well. Even more than usual, that is. Without Facebook, how will I know when to ROFL?
(Has anyone actually rolled on the floor laughing before? Show of hands…)
If I cannot share, people will understand that I don’t WANT to share and mark me down as stingy and selfish. When I am at dinner, my host may ask me if I like the Thousand Year Old Eggs and Stinky Tofu. And will have nowhere to click!
And because Google is quarrelling with China too, I will have no more email. No more updates of who had a work anniversary on LinkedIn, no more appeals from Desiree Lamont from Uganda about his lost millions, no more notifications from Facebook (which is just as well given the circumstances).
In fact, the next several days in the Social Media Desert will be an interesting journey. I must be careful lest I begin having original thoughts, reading books, or (worse still) writing them. The challenge of formulating thoughts that do not conform to a status update will be a hard one. Moreover, without Facebook, does it mean that I no longer have a status to update?
Although I am not nearly as addicted to the social media as once I was (yes, ok, you’re welcome), I have been back recently with a flurry of information about Grumpy in Belgrade – since the world today scrolls Facebook more than they read the morning papers, I am forced to comply. And just when I have begun to redevelop the taste for Facebook’s special brand of junk food, I will be going cold turkey.
In the meantime, anything could happen. Starved for likes and shares and cat pictures, I could get hooked on renren (人人网), the Chinese Facebook equivalent meaning “Everybody’s Website.” In which case, I shall build the Great Firewall around myself and stay there.
The real kicker is that if I like anything at all in the People’s Republic, not a soul will know it. What gets shared is confined to a mere 1,367,940,000 people.
Zuckerberg will never be the wiser.