Jennifer, who lives and studies abroad, narrates her experience of Cyworld in a beautifulOhmynews article.
At the beginning, Cyworld looked like an inexpensive way to stay in touch with friends and don’t miss out on what’s happening home, in South Korea. Jennifer used Cyworld to visit her friends’ mini-hompies. Then traffic started to build up on her mini-hompy, and “to keep them coming” she added a personal profile and the diary, mini room, photo album, bulletin board and message board options. Like many, she was convinced that the flow of visitors depended on how rich her site was and on how decorated her mini room .
The mini room came with an empty room and a character figure called “mini me” representing the user. I could change its facial expression, body position, hair and its clothing. I used to spend hours playing with Barbie dolls during my childhood, and one would have thought I grew out of it. Wrong! Mini-me was my best friend.
From the mini-hompy, Jennifer met new people and with some of them established a form of kinship through diadic mutual consent.
I met many members of the cyholic gang. The list of my kin kept expanding and the hidden pressure started to reveal itself. I felt obligated to visit my kin often to maintain “kinship”. Many of my so-called kin were people I barely knew….I felt compelled to prolong the phoney relationship because each user can find out whom out of your kin list did not visit you in the past month. Though this is intended to help people get along, it quickly becomes an unwelcome duty.
And gift was the engine of kinship
I was convinced that I was doing some good when giving someone a gift…This seems like an ideal way of maintaining kinship, but don’t forget that acorns are needed to make this possible. Cyword displays the number of gifts received on each users’ front page to motivate them to exchange gifts.
Jennifer developed an addiction to Cyworld: a single click on the name of any Cyworld user will hook her into Cyworld for hours.
I kept on committing the sin of saying “just one more” which turned out to be all night. It only takes a second to load someone else’s page, but the time consumed in posting and reading the message board and checking out the album is substantial. When you see someone familiar or attractive in that home page, you simply click and skip over to that other person’s home page and repeat the process.
And becoming a regular reader of one’s friends and friends of friends mini-hompies made her into some kind of voyeur, but she wasn’t alone
I found how serious the Cyworld phenomenon was when I discovered it was taking over reality. A person my friend introduced to me was the owner of a page I recalled from my friend’s message board. Scary as it may sound. I knew exactly where the person was going to school and who he was friend with. I felt like a stalker but couldn’t help but to ask, “You are friends with xxx, right?” What shocked me even more was his response. “You just graduated from xyz school in abc, right? I saw you in my friend yyy’s Cyworld.”