For this edition of Profiles in Social Media, I interviewed my friend and coworker Preeti Kaur. She uses social media heavily as an affordable way to keep in touch with her family and friends all over the globe. I was very curious how she went about keeping in touch while dealing with the time difference, different languages, and possible government censorship. This interview was done before the uprising in Egypt, however, it shows how important social media is in keeping in touch with loved ones.
Joe: How do you keep in touch with relatives overseas?
P: Yes – Facebook only. Because of the time difference (I have relatives and friends in India, UK, Tunisia, Australia, Switzerland, Holland), phone calls need to be made late at night or early in the morning, and I don’t have the time to do so except on weekends. Facebook allows me to stay in touch with my friends and relatives overseas at any time I want for free and without any hassle to either party. My relatives in India are big on partying and taking pictures, so anytime they have a celebration there they upload their pictures on Facebook to share with me. It’s like I was there with them.
J:What percentage of use goes to Social Media (SM) over Email/Gmail chat/Phone/Skype (not Facebook chat)?
P: I would say 90% goes to Facebook and 10% to Phone.
J: Do you use SM to keep track of news overseas?
P: Absolutely. My friends’ and relatives’ Facebook statuses and pictures are all I need sometimes to know the events across the seas.
J: How often do you use SM every day (on average)?
P: Frequently – I have Facebook on my BlackBerry, so any notification I get comes to my phone as well. Once I’m home from work, I usually spend anywhere from 15-20 mins on Facebook getting updated for the day.
J:Have you encountered any censoring issues with your communications?
P: No, thankfully not, since I am in the US. My brother in Tunisia did experience censoring issues however since Facebook was banned there for a while. With the president fleeing the country, Facebook is back up there as well.
J: Best thing about social media in regards to keeping in touch?
P: Free, ability to access anytime/anywhere, not limited to just voice (can see pictures etc.).
J: What is the worse part of social media about keeping in touch?
P: All your elderly relatives wanting to be friends with you. See, in India, people are huge gossipers and rumors spread like wildfires, so you’ve got to be very careful about what you put up on your profile!
J: How do you work with the time difference? (special schedule?)
P: My friends understand that there is a time difference, so I don’t need to have a special schedule to get back to them. I just reply when I have time to.
J: When you travel to India, do you check Social Media as frequently? Why or why not?
P: Oh yes, absolutely. I check it to keep in touch with my friends back home (US). When I travel, my friends in US usually use FB to communicate their requests for stuff from India.
J: Does video chat /SMS texting/ Skype play a part in your contact strategy? How much do you use the services (if at all?)
P: Since there is a huge time difference, I rarely, if ever, use video chat/Skype. Texting is expensive abroad, so I don’t text at all unless it is very important.
Preetinder Kaur is a 2010 graduate of the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a resident of the Gaithersburg, Maryland area. Preeti works for test solutions company called Prometric in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.