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Over the last couple of centuries we have seen rapid industrialization and have come leaps and bounds in technological advancements. Particularly for Western societies the technologies that have granted us the ability to compute and thus delve into the world of social networking, has transformed every aspect of human life. We have progressed into a generation with the constant urge to update statuses, load new photos, and chat to friends; so much so that computing has literally taken over every facet of our lives. I didn’t become fully aware of my dependence on social media until I visited Vietnam earlier this year. Vietnam is a country restricted by the laws of communism and therefore various social networking sites are blocked on the Internet. Communist countries have high levels of censorship which dictate what the viewer can and cannot search. In Hanoi an Australian run backpackers’ hostel had worked out the flaws in the system and made Facebook available to their guests whereas a local run hotel in Ho Chi Minh which we stayed at had blocked all social networking sites. Soon after we arrived technology withdrawals began to seep in. Unfortunately for me, my time in Vietnam opened my eyes to how wired I truly was.

Vietnamese flag- The flag’s gold five-pointed star symbolizes the five groups of workers in the building of socialism i.e. intellectuals, peasants, soldiers, workers and youths. The red symbolizes bloodshed of the revolutionary struggle.

Without Facebook I felt alone and lost without access to a place where I could communicate with my family and friends back home. I slowly realised how much we take it for granted that in democratic Australia we have the freedom to use technology at our leisure.  We no longer appreciate the opportunity to use technology how we please, to communicate, to entertain and to voice our opinions without restrictions. Many people in Western societies are oblivious to the opportunities that unlimited and uncensored access to the internet provides them. Social media provides a medium which facilitates social networking, the arts, and staying updated in local and global news. In fear of missing the latest update or the newest live feed some users have become so consumed by technology that they are slowly becoming akin to machines (Descartes, Treatise on Man, p.108) unable to log off or separate themselves from the digital. This sad reality is becoming all too common in the world of social networking and is proving detrimental to how we socialise and communicate with others outside the digital world.

Since the banning of social networking sites in Vietnam in 2009 many have been pushing to lift the ban.The freedom to express is dictated by communist politics and this is unjust.However, there are other social networking alternatives to Facebook, as research suggests, that allows Vietnamese citizens to communicate over the internet. Although I believe the internet should be unrestricted to everyone and should not be limited by government bodies, we do need to log off more frequently and thrive in a world away from the increasingly present negative effects of technology.

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