I experienced first-hand what it’s like to have Google and FaceBook banned. I was not able to logon to either at the airport in Shanghai, and asked a young Chinese woman working at the airport lounge why I couldn’t access to Google or g-mail. She blushed and in a hushed voice said, “No Google.” It felt like my freedom had been taken away, and apparently Twitter and social media aren’t allowed at all. I’d heard about this on the news in the U.S. several months ago, but thought it was temporary.
I sat next to a German man who lives in Shanghai, and asked him what expats do in China in order to get e-mail. Apparently they open a yahoo account. Yahoo is allowed.
While at Shanghai airport, I noticed that I didn’t have access to several websites and blogs that belong to my author friends in the U.S., as well as bloggers around the world. It was a really strange sensation, especially when one of these websites from a close memoir friend stated, “Access Denied.”
All I could think about was, “How does an expat indie author promote his/her work?” and then, my second thought was, “How nice not to have to compete and constantly promote your books, when you have no choice.”
I realize that we are fortunate to have access to social media, something we take for granted. Here in Bangkok, I have the best Internet. I’m staying in a small, basic hotel, about ten-minutes from Bangkok airport, and the Internet speed is phenomenal.
I’m glad I got to experience seven hours without Google at Shanghai airport, as this will be training for me when I move to Lesotho with the Peace Corps. There, I shall probably only have Internet access a few days a month.
Has this happened to you? If so, how did you feel about it? How would you feel about it, if you didn’t have social media access?