Monday, October 24, 2011

Total Number of Mauritians on Facebook: 203,700 (110,520 people male 89,480 people female)


Total Number of Mauritians : 203,700 (110,520 people male 89,480 people female)
Relationship 59,840 single 6,920 engaged 23,700 in a relationship 23,960 married
Languages 176,360 English 26,520 French
Workplaces 340 works @ Air Mauritius 40 works @ The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd
Of Facebook’s 500 million users, only 203,700 are in Mauritius. But consider the growth, and the context: There were only 57,330 users in 2009; this in a land where there’s little reliable Internet connection outside urban areas, and in which most computer users share a machine with several others. The number of Facebook users has more than doubled due largely to Facebook’s concentration on mobile phone applications.
But this story — and Facebook’s continued growth in Mauritius is not a prosaic one of devices, applications, andInternet penetration alone. It is about the Mauritian nature and temperament.

What accounts for its rapid success? We are not looking at how the social network works; we are trying to see why it strikes a chord with Mauritians, culturally.
Oh yes, it’s a youth thing. You won’t find too many of your parents’ generation posting pics here or changing a status message to talk about how the rose blooming in their garden has made them happy. Nope. They’ll still call you on the good old phone to tell you all that.
What perhaps triggers the younger Mauritians is the way in which it appeals to our strong sense of ‘staying connected’. We have been, since the days of yore, a gregarious community. Catching up with the neighbour for a cuppa, dropping in to say hi to a relative, and so on, come naturally to us. These are aspects we’ve never questioned, but always found comforting.
Over the years, we had other things fight for our time and mental space. Commuting hours between home and workplace, squeezing in an appointment at the dentist, planning the next holiday… and calling your friend was pushed to the next day.
Enter Facebook. And it appeals to this ‘keeping in touch’ streak in you. It’s easy, effortless. And it gives you a format to stay in touch. Newspapers in Mauritius are overwhelmingly heavily censored and mind-bogglingly dull. Facebook, whose censorship and limited free speech policies are the result of a profit-driven American internet startup rather than a repressive post-colonial dictatorship, is also turning into an unexpectedly fertile platform for free speech. Though these reasons are not specific to Mauritians, they certainly seem stronger here, thanks to our socio-cultural factors.
In a country where even chatting with a stranger on a bus happens spontaneously, it just takes a platform such as Facebook to tap into the need for staying connected online.

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