Despite regular shark attacks on the country’s Wifi, Vietnam remains well-connected on all things social media. Ask the average citizen, from teen to celebrated grandparents, and most will own a smartphone complete with Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, Instagram, you name it. From accommodating simple social interaction to connecting future lovers, social media serves a purpose in Vietnam today.
Despite this, the average amount of time spent on social media compared to elsewhere in the world seems to be relatively low. The majority of people spent about one to three hours online each day, not including work hours, while 21.3% spent four to six and a small percentage even more.
One of our survey respondents pointed out that “any more [than 15mins per day] is just procrastination” and another suggested that a better source of entertainment is often the outside world. Social media is notorious for distracting and isolating its users, and in a country where life is lived in such fascinating proximity, a lot can be said for putting the phone down.
Trolls and Trolling
The internet troll features regularly across Vietnam’s expat Facebook groups, but when we look at Vietnam as a whole, cyber abrasiveness seems to be a fairly small issue. Around 76% of our survey participants said that they have never been bullied online and the 24% who have, seemed more inclined to pity their online oppressors rather than dislike them. One described their troll encounters as being with “sad lonely people [who] perversely get joy from anonymously laughing at my online gardening tips.”
Interestingly, our survey answers showed that the majority of participants’ unpleasant internet interactions were with foreign social media users rather than Vietnamese. One participant referred to the trolls on expat group “Hanoi Massive and its jobless members,” and another stated outright that they had “only [been bullied] one time and not by a Vietnamese.”
When asked if they had ever been the bully rather than the recipient, 91.7% of our participants said no, but many referred to their online interactions as “harmless banter” or “a little sarcastic”, stating that “there are some very sensitive flowers out there.” It seems that it can be all too easy to deny responsibility for how we affect people online, perhaps because the wide web makes social interaction far less tangible.
Love and Lust
When asked, 36.7% of our surveyed Vietnam residents said that yes, they had developed a sexual relationship with someone online. One participant said they had ended up marrying an online date and they are celebrating their 16th anniversary this year.
In their comments, most people delineated between dating apps like Tinder and online sexual interactions, saying that they had just met or dated online rather than holding a sexual relationship via the internet. As one participant said: “We did consummate it in a bed...”
But when asked whether dating apps and websites are a good way to find meaningful relationships, an overwhelming number of our survey participants said they don’t know. To most, the issue is not black and white, and the longevity of a relationship doesn’t rely so much on how you start it but on who you are. As one survey participant said, “it works for some.”
Here are the six questions we put to our participants:
1) How many hours per day do you spend on social media (not including work hours)?
2) Have you ever been bullied online?
3) Have you ever bullied anyone online?
4) Have you ever developed a sexual relationship with someone online?
5) To what extent are Tinder, Grinder, Blued and other dating apps / sites great for finding meaningful relationships?
6) To what extent is it fine for parents to post photos of their children online?
What About the Kids?
While most of our surveyed adults seem perfectly willing to share their lives online, even to the extent of love, their answers show division over whether children should have social media presence at all.
However, when asked if it is fine for parents to post photos of their children online, a very slight majority said yes. The general consensus seems to be that modesty is the key — if your kids are clothed and not too many details are divulged, then post away.
Here are some of the more interesting comments we received about parents posting photos of their children online.
“Within limits of course and with private setting (friends only for example). Some parents post too much details of [their] kids’ life [online] and it could stay on record forever.”
“Not these crazy parents posting naked pictures of their child every freakin’ 10 minutes!”
“As long as they are not shitting in the street.”
— Only 4% of respondents don’t use social media
— A quarter of people spend more than four hours on social media a day
— A whopping 1 in 4 people say they have been bullied online
— Two fifths of people say they have developed a sexual relationship with someone online
— However, less than 20% say that dating apps or websites are great for finding meaningful relationships
Photo by Julie Vola
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