Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SNS Relationships

Ten years ago after passing the written exam to work for a newspaper, a journalist, now writing for the Peace Weekly, recalls a question he and four others were asked during the followup interview, a question that surprised him. They were asked for the meaning of a word. Only one of them knew; it was the word for a male second cousin of one's father. 

Family relationships, are very important in Korea but this is changing in today's world, he says. In Korean all degrees of relationships within a family have a name. There is a different name for the relationship between a man and a woman when seen from the father's side and when seen from the mother's side. The journalist gives us an example of some of the titles given to family members. He believes that the word he was asked to define during that interview ten years ago would stump 9 out 10 persons asked to define it today.

He goes on to mention how the question of family relationship arose during a wedding ceremony of one of his relatives. There he met many he hadn't seen in a long time. One of his nephews and a male cousin's son  asked him who he was, and then gave him their name cards. It was their first meeting, but it prompted him to give the "family tree" more thought than he had previously. In fact, he says that once you know the principles involved, the family tree titles are not that difficult to remember, marveling at the scientific manner and the simple way it is done.

In the past, when families lived in the same village, all the children had no problem with the different titles and relationships; they were well-known. This way of life has changed: families have moved, the dependence on each other, prevalent in the past, has changed, replaced by a new style of life and manners. The younger the persons are the more this is true. They are very much part of the capitalistic way of life and its  competition. Both men and women have to work to make ends meet, often resulting in many young  people putting off marriage, which increases the likelihood of having a society with many older unmarried women and single men. The bonds of the past have become weak, he says, and it is only natural that the blood relationships have also suffered, with today's youth finding it more difficult to have a close  relationship  with family and others.

The natural relationships we had in the past are giving way to what has been called SNS relationships, relationships that exist only in cyberspace.The social networking services are taking the place of the old connections. In this world the entertainers are the ones frequently encountered.  We may not  know, he says, our second, third or fourth cousins, but we know every thing about the entertainers: what they eat, what they wear, their hobbies, and the like. The modern entertainers of the world have replaced, he regrettably says, our good neighbors of the past.

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