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Thứ Năm, 22 tháng 9, 2011

I sometimes get annoyed with all the fussy posts on Facebook about fall, flowers, heart-touching weather and stuffs like that. I know I am very annoy-able, and I used to be like those people who flood my facebook homepage with posts about the ups and downs in their fragile, emotional worlds. But there are more to life than that, girls! If you just look out, you will see more than flowers.

It's becoming harder to work. Today's field trip was full of frustration. For some moments, I felt like I was begging people to accept the loan, which is true to some extents because we need borrowers for the fixed tours this week and the next. They said 2 million is too little. But what perplexed me the most is their sudden change in attitude. Now all of them say "no" to us. I speculate it must have to do with the police in the community. Because of some foreigners "element" involved, since the police was informed of our work 3 weeks ago, they have been trying to tighten their grip, either to protect "foreign guests" from being harassed by local people (which never happens the whole time we work there without their interfere), or to make sure that no negative comment about the government's competence and anything vaguely related is made in front of those who have the power to spread the message to the world. Or both.

Vietnamese people tend to be shy away from anything that may bring themselves to attention, not to mention police's attention. I don't blame them, indeed I find that in myself, too. The police perhaps haven't lifted a finger, but the mere understanding or unspoken message that for a friendly conversation with foreigners, borrowers may be watched a little bit more closely than their neighbours and held more responsibility than other civilians is enough. All of sudden, people who used to be so out-spoken and welcoming now uttered so many different excuses to not open their homes for us.

When you stay within the limit, you think you have a lot of freedom to do what you want. But the moment you slightly cross the border, you become aware of how tightly it wraps around you! I, suddenly (again) feel like I can sympathize better with refugees who left Vietnam to go abroad on boat. It wasn't entirely because they were afraid of death, or bitter of their loss, but also of the frustration they endured in a society where things are controlled, where everyone is afraid of the authority, or one another, and where every single word you say may be used against you. I felt the same way today.

How can a nation grow strong if the people are taught to be fearful? Fearful of harmless other human beings, just because they have white skin!

I have always been perplexed by the vast difference between facebook usage. Western people seem to use the social network to connect. They send message, post on wall, make comment in conversation, and post pictures to keep people updated on events happening in their lives. Vietnamese people seem to use facebook to present a picture of themselves. Of course all users put forth the image they want themselves to be, but Vietnamese users care less about connection than personal feelings, emotions, thoughts. Photos are not used to keep a line of events' date, but to portray personality. I am fascinated, but at the same time bored, how many facebook users use the same means to get to a fixed end. For example, if you want to present yourself as a girly, romantic, soft- hearted lady, you post pictures of yourself taken in a lotus pond, a flower field, a rice paddy, an old-looking wall, with the same poses for everyone. If you like to be seen as intellectual, you are likely to post links to articles, debates and like pages with "big name". If you belong to the "wanderers", people get to see a lot of dirty shoes, windy valleys, water-buffaloes on your page. So on and so forth. These are codes people use to achieve the same purpose. Even the outcomes are limited. You can only be such and such characters. Options are few.

I have always wondered. Why? Why are there codes? Why do the majority of facebook users, admittedly middle-class urban settlers with high education and instant access to the internet, fix themselves so easily in a set net of personality, so highly patterned that if you observe from afar, you can't find much distinction between one and the next? Of course each era has its own set of individuality, and why facebook?

Probably, just probably, because facebook (and other social network) is the only means given to people to express themselves. Lack of individual space, lack of freedom (such a relative term), and lack of access to platform, people do what they can to diversify in the midst of the allowed area, with the allowed codes. If you are implanted with a fear towards almost everything, and certainty with almost nothing, and  your self-value is as floating and breakable as a dry leaf on a swift stream, you will be happy with a little piece of the world you are allowed to see. If you venture out, see a little bit more than you are supposed to, you will find yourself pretty much trapped, and you will struggle. Struggle to fight, to flee or to accept, but still, it's a struggle.

Facebook is a good place to portray your personality if you live in a place where talking with a foreigner is considered potentially dangerous. How is that for a hypothesis?

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