Sovichet’s Take on Social Media in Cambodia

We’re living in a modern society and, absolutely, with technology. Internet, part of technology, is the most important thing now, and as some people put it, has become one of the basic needs. It has helped human beings create sort of a new society. Sometimes we find ourselves living in a very virtual society which we call Social Networking.

In this article post, I’ll give some aspects to the current situation of social network, mainly focused on Facebook being used in Cambodian society.

If one talks about technologies in Cambodia, it never escapes Facebook which is growing rapidly in this country. As I remember, technologies arrived in Cambodia as late as the early 1990s. Those included Mobile network, Internet, email, and so on. Those are being used in many sectors such as the public and private sectors since that mere moment, to help enable the two sectors to control their works. Technologies help Cambodia enormously.

Among those, social network is one of the most-used tools to spread out words and messages to the world. It has been 4 years since Facebook has shown its strength in Cambodia. In early 2010 which was the year of the boom of social network/Facebook in Cambodia, Facebook which started first as a tool for chitchat, dating and daily communication with their friends and relatives,  has transformed itself into something beyond its realization.

Even it’s free of charge to use to satisfy the needs of people, it also impacts the society much more than what we expected. When we talk about “society”, it covers many things such as our politics, environment, culture, humanity, and so on. Not only in Cambodia, but around the world, Facebook has become many things besides just a chat tool but now more of a citizen journalism platform for cultural exchanges, advertisement services, etc.

Let’s go back to 2013, a big event for Cambodia. It was the year of the national elections. Among the two big political parties, CNRP and CPP, CNRP was more active and strategic on social media, and used Facebook as a tool to be connected with their supporters before the elections came on 28 July 2013.  It gave a positive result for the opposition party. However, it also gave some negative points. People used inappropriate words to attack each other on Facebook just because of their favourite party. It does not sound good to me. It’s true that people have the rights of expression, but some of those people have abused the rights of respect immensely. But, it sure was an interesting moment to observe.

Due to the development of  smartphone technology and the increase of smartphone users, many teens have it in their hands and register a Facebook account as quickly as they can, sometimes two or three accounts. There are many things they are interested in such as politics, musics, chatting, etc. But what I have noticed so far is they have also used it to show to people how talented they are. A teen, Meas Panhabotckhrareach (មាស បញ្ញាបុត្រចក្រារាជ), created a page and posted many videos of his beat-boxing, and now he’s getting more popular thanks to his talent shown via social media.

The most fascinating thing to me to have noticed is that Cambodian teens are building many social activities and promoting them on Facebook in order to get more support from the people there. I’m also a teen, and I admire their works for this society.

Yet, there are some things which are unacceptable. Some of them create and post a painful video of their break-up. For me, I think it makes no sense to post something of that sort. Do they want to be famous for the wrong reason? Facebook is only a tool, and it can make your message across if you craft it in the right way. A lot of positive and negative things happen on Facebook or social media, but don’t take it personally or too seriously, guys.

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