Christmas Essentials for the Black Hole of China

That’s an image of the Facebook friend connections between cities. The more connections, the brighter and whiter the lines. (See an explanation of how they made it is here.) You’ll notice a few conspicuously dark areas: Brazil and Russia have more popular local social network competitors; Africa has less internet users. And then there’s China.

Christmas is the hardest time of the year to be on the other side of the world from family. Living in a FB black hole would only make it that much worse. We have a toddler, my one sister is pregnant and the other just got engaged, in addition to all the usual family fun that happens during Christmas. That’s a lot of family-ness to miss out on. Thankfully, there are ways to access Facebook (and everything else) in spite of China’s ‘harmonious’ internet. These last two weeks we’ve been burning a hole in the internets with all sharing family photos and videos back and forth. Skype, of course, is getting a good workout, too.

I have issues with FB, and if I could start again with it I would do things differently. After all, they are out to get you (they harvest and calculate your information and behaviour patterns to make you easier to manipulate for advertisers and, one day, governments. I only first started using it to stalk my sister’s then-boyfriend). But, I am thankful — very thankful — that it’s so easy to communicate between continents. We almost effortlessly and instantly share pictures, videos, and make video calls. It’s not as good as being together, of course, but we’re definitely grateful!

Merry Christmas 2010!

P.S. — And Merry Christmas from China, too:

P.P.S. — And Merry Christmas from my rock star soon-to-be-brother-in-law:

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