Social Media and Friendship

I heard about The New Yorker before but have never really read their articles or have taken a peek on their website until this morning. A friend of mine shared an article from TNY, which title is Can Envy be Good for You?, and I found myself reading it until the very last sentence. I am an accounting graduate but it is always be a pleasure for me to read a piece of writing in psychology. As you can guess, I ended up reading more articles by Maria Konnikova, whose work I mentioned earlier, and surprisingly I found an older writings of her that made me rethink about friendship and social media.

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Image courtesy of hikingartist.com

For Millennials like me and most of my friends, social medias play a significant part in our lives. It is almost certain that every of us has an account on every social media platforms that you can think of. I have some but I am only actively involved on a few of them and on the rest I just become a silent reader. One of my close friend once asked me if it is necessary to have so many accounts on social media and I personally think it is not.

To some extent it is true that social media connects people but, more than often, the connections made are only artificial. We feel close to certain people because their postings are always made our news feed but no ‘real interactions’ are actually occurred. Yes we can poke, love and put thumbs up on someone’s postings, also give and reply comments but I think that it feels different with real life interactions where physical touch is possible and facial expression is clearly seen. I still believe that physical encounter is crucial in building and maintaining a relationship, including a friendship. Moreover, face-to-face interactions give more meaning to a relationship and lead to a deeper bonding.

These times I use social media platforms to connect with people I really like to have conversations with in real life. I am pretty selective on deciding who are and who would be on my friend lists. For example, colleagues are hardly on my Facebook unless they are really close to me. In addition, I never accept friend requests from total strangers even though they are mutual friends of mine. Therefore, I can be sure about whom I share the stories of my life with virtually. How about you, readers?

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Borneo: The First Time Ever

I have been living in Indonesia for the whole of my life but it was really the very first time I stepped my feet in Borneo. It was in November 2014 when I went there for a business trip. The city I visited was Banjarmasin and most of my time there was spent on Barito River, observing vessels owned by my client.

It was really something to climb up and down vessels several times a day. I still remember that in the evening my arms were aches and so fatigue because I was not used to use my hands to lift my body (go on diet, Sera!) But overall, it was an unforgettable experience and I would like to do it at least once more during my career as an auditor.

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Let’s go, brrrmm..
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Colourful boats on a dirty river
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At least I felt safe because of these men
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Life on a vessel. There was a washing line in the back of the vessel.
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Climbing down the barge
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Two men collecting leftover coals. Sadly, the used no safety instruments at all.
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Pieces of coals
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Stained chains
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Posing in front of a barge
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In the stern of a vessel
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Big barge
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Heading home
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A morning in a small harbour
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Morning routine: washing clothes
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A jetty in Kelanis
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I was surprised that they had chickens on board
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Well, they also had a pigeon
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Sounding, checking the level of fuel
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No drying squids in the engine room!
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On a floating crane
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Going back and forth, all day

The Two Koreas

Yes, as you can guess, in this post I am talking about the two Koreas, the North and South Korea. I am actually talking about Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick and The New Korea: An Inside Look at South Korea’s Economic Rise by Myung Oak Kim and Sam Jaffe.

Nothing To Envy  Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Image courtesy of Amazon

I read Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea few months before I flew to South Korea for a summer school. My English teacher lent me his book and surprisingly it was a very good story about the secretive North Korea! I shouldn’t be that surprised because this book was awarded the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and was also a finalist for the National Book Award in 2010. Few pages after the author’s note, I drifted by the romance story of young Mi-ran and her boyfriend Jun-sang while these love birds were living on the outskirts of Chongjin, one of the industrial cities not far from the border with Russia. The first chapter of this book really fed my appetite to keep on reading until the very last page. Furthermore, if you stroll along the pages, perhaps you would be astonished by the ability of government to instil the idea of juche (self-reliance) with reserved red letters propaganda signs scattered ubiquitously that was translated into, “Long live Kim Il-Sung. Kim Jong-Il, sun of the 21st century. Let’s live our own way. We will do as the party tells us. We have nothing to envy in the world.” I like this book as it gives us deep understanding about the lives of North Koreans, including the violence happened on the labour camps. It seemed that Demick didn’t let the sorrow ended, the last few pages written were about the sweet-turned-sour reunion of Mi-ran and her lover years after she defected from North Korea.

Image courtesy of Amazon
Image courtesy of Amazon

Stark contrast with the lives of millions North Koreans, the fellow South Koreans live in a free yet modern world. They live really like normal people in the other parts of the world amid the continuous nuclear threats from their neighbour. I didn’t encounter horrible stories about chronic famine or awful labour camps here in The New Korea: An Inside Look at South Korea’s Economic Rise. In the first part of the book, Kim and Jaffe introduced readers to the long journey of (united then separated) Korea(s). The next pages full of miraculous economic growth of South Korea followed by the stories of worldwide well-known Korean chaebol. The most interesting part of the book is the stories of Korean society in which I eventually got much idea of Korean lifestyle. This book is simply light and handy guide to understand pretty much everything about South Korea. But if you feel the need to know more about Korea is still going strong, there are several books that can satisfy your curiosity. As examples, you can refer to Korea: The Impossible Country or The Korean Mind: Understanding Contemporary Korean Culture to get understanding about Korean general affair. If your interest is specific to business, I think you would enjoy Samsung Electronics and the Struggle for Leadership of the Electronics Industry or more recent version of it in The Samsung Way: Transformational Management Strategies from the World Leader in Innovation and Design (different authors with the previously mentioned title).

So, have you decided on which books to read first? 🙂

The Culture Map

Have you ever been in an awkward situation caused by a culture clash when you were abroad? I got this thing back when I was in Korea for a summer school. It was when I about to have lunch with my assigned Korean buddy, she asked me, “Sera, how many cars do you have at home?” I paused for a moment, tried to comprehend her question. Oh, she is eager to know how rich I am. I replied, “I have three cars, one for each of us!” This time, she was startled. “Oh gosh, you are so rich! I don’t even have one.” Oh buddy, please, you believe what I just said?

For Indonesians (or maybe just for me), that kind of question might be considered impolite. It is equal to stop someone who is walking on the pavement and ask, “Hey dude, how much money do you earn in a month?” That surprising question given by a foreigner friend on a very first meeting triggered my curiosity about cultural difference. At first, I wonder why Koreans seem so materialistic (pardon me if it is just happened to my friend) and yes I got an insight about materialism from a survey done by Ipsos. From that survey we can see that Koreans value more of their success by the possessions they have than the global average and they feel more pressure to be successful. Ya ya ya, no wonder if my Korean friend asked me so.

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Image courtesy of Erin Meyer

One and a half-year past from that moment, I was hooked to read this book shortly after reading an article about cultural difference. I had a feeling that this book would be awesome and my gut was exactly right! Open few pages of The Culture Map, you will be welcomed by the wisdom of Mrs. Chen. Few more pages, you will understand about the high-context and low-context as an introduction to cross-cultural communications. If you are excited with what you read, go on, because there are a lot more hilarious, even disastrous real-life examples of cross-cultural communications. I personally like chapter four and six because they both talk about trust. On chapter six you will encounter the explanation of peach and coconut relationship based; trust is from the head or the heart; and brief history of egalitarian Scandinavians (that eventually leads me to another great reading). Overall, I find this book very interesting that I finished reading it pretty quick. You don’t necessarily have to be a professional or an executive to read this one because the practicality of this book is applicable to both business and personal situations.