With the help of digital technology, getting connected is enhanced during the festive season, writes Izwan Ismail.
A FEW days more to Chinese New Year and social media is buzzing with festive messages.
Whether you’re on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, WeeChat or YouTube, smartphones and smartwatches will keep blinking and beeping with incoming messages from friends and families.
Some will go to the extent of making special videos, creative Boomerang, GIF messages and photo series and post them online.
Gone are the days of the traditional greeting cards as social media has taken over the way people — be they young or old — show their love, friendship and happiness for each other.
During Chinese New Year, Lynn Lee finds lots of postings on delicacies and clothes. The 35-year-old vertical integrated marketing expert finds hashtags like #chiakchiak #huatah #ongmari entertaining and funny at the same time.
But Lee prefers a balance of the traditional and social media because the former has the human touch.
“Face-to-face chats and gatherings are important. Thankfully my family and friends prefer these too. I only use social media to chat with my friends who are overseas and post pictures on FB and IG,” she says.
Lee prefers WhatsApp and Facebook to Instagram.
“I am used to the graphical user interface and the ability to make phone calls and video chats.”
For Elyssa Fam Mae-Z, social media is part of the life of a millennial like her.
“It’s great that social media enables us to connect with friends and family, especially the ones overseas, as it allows us to mark a celebration and share it with everyone, either through pictures, vlogs on YouTube or split second clips in InstaStory,” says the 20-year-old university student.
“These can spark bonding moments as family, friends and even those whom we’ve not been in touch with, as we can offer comments and updates on each other’s lives,” she says.
There isn’t a day that goes by without Fam being on WhatsApp.
The ability to connect with the loved ones far away is one of the best features of social media.
“The world has become very small, and people connect with each other easily. My aunt lives in Australia. Last year she was unable to be back in Malaysia for Chinese New Year, so my mother connected with her via WhatsApp video so that she was ‘present’ and therefore able to chat with everyone,” she says.
On social media, Fam usually posts pictures of her travels, family during festive occasions, food and her OOTD (outfit of the day).
For public relation practitioner Tan Chee Kun, being on social media helps save time from meeting each friend individually.
“It optimises our time to ensure each friend or relative is greeted properly so that he or she knows we have them in mind. However, it reduces ‘face time’ and we may think the greetings session is a task rather than a means to maintain good relationships,” he says.
“Technology has helped us to connect with our loved ones easily but we should also learn to make time for meetings with friends and family. It’s equally important to talk to them, make jokes and laugh together,” he adds.
A WhatsApp user, Tan likes to create a “broadcast” group where he can add up to 256 members.
“I send an image and everyone can get it in a second. I can reach out to people that I don’t frequently see,” he says.
Tan will be celebrating Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur and his father’s hometown in Teluk Intan this year.
The innovations that come along with social media have added convenience to CNY.
“E-angpows are great as they eliminate the hassle of preparing the red packets and presenting them,” says Deborah Teoh, a general manager of a PR firm.
E-angpows is a fun way to send gifts of money using online banking facilities and mobile apps and they allow the receivers to instantly redeem and deposit the money into their accounts.
Teoh finds social media a “cure” for homesickness when celebrating the festive season far from home.
“Social media is great for festive seasons as it brings us closer and connects us instantly, particularly for those who live away from home. It reduces homesickness because we can video-call families and friends as and when we wish. We can also get instant updates on how our friends celebrate,” she says.
She creates festive greeting videos on Facebook and WhatsApp and uploads them.
Teoh loves Snapchat’s quirky and funny filters like nose, ears and tongues of furry animals like cats, dogs, rabbits, etc embedded in the face.
“It’s just fun to use,” she says.
Teoh will be heading to Penang to celebrate the festive occasion with her family.
For Brian Chia, Instagram is the way to go this festive season.
“I use Instagram as the Insta Story provides a livelier feel. Insta Story, Boomerang and other wacky features make the video more interesting and fun,” he says.
The 26-year-old says social media offers a quick and dynamic change to celebrating festive seasons because information can be sent out in a flash.
“Friends and family can send greetings and videos without restrictions.
“I use social media all the time because it’s a quicker and easier way to spread festive cheer across all channels and to many people. Sometimes being conventional like sending a greeting card can be thoughtful but now people are getting more digital-savvy and want the quicker way. Connections are getting closer with each day.”