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Posted by on Apr 11, 2013

Random Thoughts by Dave – Facebook Ramblings


The Cambodian’s I know love Facebook. On multiple occasions I’ve been introduced to a group of students and one of the first things they’ll ask me is if I’m on Facebook. A friend request soon follows. A donor for our organization visited and spent an hour talking with the students and when the discussion was over the students crowded around her asking for her Facebook name.

I mentioned to someone I work with that I thought the 1,400 Friends she had on Facebook was a lot and she assured me it wasn’t, that she knew people with 3,000 or 4,000 Friends. She also dismissed the notion that Facebook was more popular in Cambodia than it was anywhere else. seo analysis She’s right, there are plenty of people who have thousands of Facebook friends and plenty of countries where the penetration of Facebook is more substantial than in Cambodia.

Becoming Friends the old-fashioned way.

Becoming Friends the old-fashioned way.

However, I think there’s more to it than Facebook just being popular around the world.

As with many things in Cambodia, and something Jill and I have written about on any number of occasions that you’re probably tired of reading about it, I think the popularity of Facebook can be traced back to the Khmer Rouge and how it still affects many things in the country today.

During this dreadful period from 1975-1979 when virtually the entire population was either killed or made slaves by its leaders, people shut down. You couldn’t talk to anyone else or the leaders might think you were plotting against them. domain analysis Cambodians would turn in other Cambodians to the authorities as well, hoping to gain favor with Khmer Rouge leaders by passing along information about others.

Though the Khmer Rouge was defeated by the Vietnamese in 1979, it wasn’t until 1999 that Cambodia was once again a free country (though I use that term fairly liberally). People don’t talk about this period very often because of the horror many witnessed and because they are still afraid the Khmer Rouge could return to power.

And not to keep harping on the same point, but one of the most fascinating things about being in Cambodia today is that you have a country that is just emerging from one of the worst genocides of the modern world. We’re living amongst thousands of survivors and the first generation of people to come after this sordid period. Just a few miles from where I’m sitting there is a tribunal taking place to hopefully convict some of the people who committed these atrocities.

But back to Facebook.

Facebook offers many things to Cambodians, but most obvious in my mind is that it is someplace where people can speak freely. Unable to freely speak out in public without drawing attention from the government, Cambodians, like people in so many other repressed countries, have taken to the Internet and are not afraid to criticize the government or discuss other social injustices. The fact that Facebook is free to anyone who can access it is another bonus in a country where people don’t have much money for discretionary spending.

We’ve seen the impact social media can play in countries that share some similarities to Cambodia – both Facebook and Twitter were credited with playing major roles in the 2011 revolution in Egypt – so perhaps Facebook will be able to mobilize the Cambodian people in a way that no person has been able.

Some of my new Friends.

Some of my new Friends.

By the way, I now have 34 Cambodian friends on Facebook and 148 total, which my colleague pointed out is 10% as many Facebook friends as she has.

1 Comment

  1. Dave, it has been interesting to me to see how this country has affected you & Jill. They say travel is very broading & it is, but being able to spend 3 months in 1 country & experiencing as much as you have is an opportunity that few have had. Your insights & comments have helped us follow along with you on this grand adventure & we thank you. Love, Mona & Harold