Can WeChat?

WeChat is a popular Chinese social media app which have around 600 million users today and 500 million of them are Chinese. It is a message app which you can send either voice or text message like the WhatsApp and iMessage, but it has a lot more than just sending messages. You can pay Chinese Uber (which is called DiDi in China) drivers by using WeChat; you can go buy anything you can ever imagine on TaoBao, which is a mix of Amazon and Ebay in China by using WeChat; and you can post photos, text and subscribe to accounts which you are interested in just like Facebook by using WeChat. As for me, WeChat is the most frequently used app on my phone now because almost all my friends in China, and my mom are using it.

Chatting list of WeChat
Chatting list of WeChat

As for relationship, now I talk with my mom on this app almost every week, we just did a video chat last night; and I did this to my friends too during the times when I am here; and besides these, I actually built relationship with my ex-girlfriend thanks to this app. So basically, almost everyone in China who has a smart phone and have access to internet is using WeChat now. You can start your business on WeChat by sending photos of your products on your friend circle, and people will contact you through message, and make purchases online; and the same mode applies to online dating, there is a function in WeChat called shake, you shake your phone, and it will search people who are nearby in less 1km. And you can talk with these random people and you can ask them out or have sex with them potentially if the conversation goes well. I am not kidding, people use this app to have random sex when they get bored in China, and we call this YuePao which just means having sex for fun.

Friend Circle in WeChat
Friend Circle in WeChat

The purpose of this app is definitely not for people to have random sex at first, but it certainly changed throughout the times after it first came out to the market in 2011. In these four years, I have to say I need to thank WeChat because my relationship with mom and friends are definitely changing because it changed the way of communication between us. My mom is a fast learner, she began to know how to use this app better than other women in her age, she started to write posts which I still kind of do not like in my friend circle, they are all those typical chicken soup readings. In the past three years, she is always trying to contact me through WeChat by sending my video chat request or voice messages. At first I was really annoying and tired because I did not want to listen to all her voice messages(each message has one minute long limit), I can take care of myself and I did not want to let her know what is happening to me no matter it is good or bad. After this summer I talked with her face to face, and figured out that we both need to understand each other more because my mom is too controlled but she still wants me to become independent in the future while now I am still financially depending on her, she wants to let me go but she does not want to at the same time; as for me, I need to realize that she loves me because she is my mom, and indeed she sent me to boarding school when I was six, and four years ago she let me come to US to start my college education; but all these are hard for her since I am the only kid, women are emotional, so does my mom; she just wants to hear my voice and see my face to make sure I am ok.

Friend List in WeChat
Friend List in WeChat

See I might been thinking that WeChat is not as good as face to face oral communication with real person, but they are different. It is definitely important for me to talk with my friends and parents in person when I need to sit down for a really serious problem or a normal hangout. WeChat created a way for me to talk with friends in different countries with different time zone, and I can hear their voices instead of seeing texts. This is the way to maintain my friendship with friends in China now, it sounds ridiculous but it seriously is. All my friends who are same age as me are in universities now, if I do not have them in my WeChat contacts, I will probably never see or talk with them in the next ten years; or if I have them but never talk with them, conversations will probably not happen between us unless there are something I really need help from them. And it feels strange when you talk with people on WeChat, you can only send a minute-long voice message, but you can start a constant conversation by bombing them with several voice messages, some people get annoyed some do not. I definitely belong to the second group. Yes my friends told me I sent too many voice messages most of times.

Above all these, the point is that this simple voice-messaging app has changed the way of communication now, it expanded its original purpose of communication to building relationship through business, friends, and random sex dates. Again I do not know if it is bad or good for the rest of people who are using this app right now, for me there is no doubt that it is helping me maintain and build relationships with people in another side of the world every day. It is so normal just like I eat rice with my chopsticks all the time, or for my American fellows, it is like sending snapchats to people ten times a day because you think it is part of your life now. WeChat is part of my communication life indeed; it is always good to build and maintain relationships in real life, but it is always interesting to investigate them online. So can WeChat?

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