When I’ve asked people about their experiences living in China, the most frequent responses are about the individual’s use of the WeChat app. If you’re reading this, then the privilege to access technology has been granted to you. Let’s be wise! Through the past two decades millennials have grown alongside the advancement of technology. Urban folks today, are quick to text or send off an email. Many young adults are familiar with social networking apps, but WeChat stands out among other apps known to the West. From the perspective of a 20- something year old, it seems we’ve always coexisted with tech. Electronic devices support our education, entertainment, and communication with friends far away. In China, friends and colleagues (local and international) describe WeChat in a way that is amiable — whether they’re using the app for socializing, networking, entertainment, travel or business. The creators of WeChat have brought together the necessary routes for your purchases and streams of communication. From North America to Asia the uses of technology differ greatly. Perhaps it’s the climactic regions that determine how and where we can bring technology into our communities. Today, it’s up to us, to make smart choices to keep the peace with our PCs. So, what can be seen happening in China today in regards to the expansive use of technology over the last three years?
EF Senior teacher in Shenzhen, Max Rosenberg, shares his story of living in Shenzhen for 3+ years. His reflection on this time sheds light on his appreciation for accessible public transportation. Max talks about the cleanliness of metro stations and the speed and frequency at which the trains travel. In amazement he brings up that new metro lines are built every few years. He likens this to the speed at which construction companies put up a skyscraper in the city. Max smiles, “there’s a new one up every year!” Max and his colleagues often use public bikes to travel around the city. These bikes too are connected into the city via mobile applications and bluetooth connections. To him, Wechat has allowed the individual in China to have more access to shopping, renting and sending money transfers; as Wechat is linked to a bankcard through your mobile phone. Max says Wechat has “centralised” all that we’d need in a day. It’s easier to carry one phone and have access to your bank, your social network, map etc. This may be the supreme way to move into the future with values of accessibility at the forefront.
The introduction of the Wechat app in China has improved one’s connection to the city-scape. Our mobile phones have now become keys. As told by EF Senior Teacher in Shenzhen, Michael Murillo, over the last five years a series of bikes have been set into the city. Each for rent to anyone who can use their phone to scan — and pay for the rental — using the mobile apps linked to their bank account. Within 5 years mobile payments have shifted to the top of daily exchanges. Mona Wang, a local employee of EF at the Head Quarters in Shenzhen, describes her memories of Mo Bei, the first orange coloured bike for public use. Nowadays yellow bikes, blue bikes and recent teal bikes can be seen on the sidewalk. With an app that connects an individual to the entire city, no one feels lost. The widespread use of the Wechat app allows people to connect seamlessly with shop owners et al. QR code scanning and electronic transfers give way to the digital transfer of currency with a few simple taps.
People are able to move more efficiently through the internet as well as the streets. With one app bringing together people’s business the ‘one-stop-shop’ makes exchanges happen quick. A great lesson gifted to me teaches that life has many connections; appreciating how each subject inter-relates is what brings hope. With Wechat you can see how this is possible for an urban environment. With our phones, individuals can choose anything from sharing files to posting pictures or buying groceries for home delivery. Planning your next holiday trip will be simple — as all your resources are together.
WeChat demonstrates an example of Chinese culture by embodying the willingness to share openly. Within the three months I’ve lived in China I’m amazed at how much sharing occurs. Perhaps this is a reflection of how the city grows so quickly — openness is the key element in cooperation.