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Sydney Farmer

Chatting in China

by Sydney Farmer Thursday, June 1, 2017

If you left your house without your smartphone in the morning, chances are you may feel a little naked. I felt this way living in America, and coming to China, this feeling was exacerbated. I carry a portable charger with me at all times and obsessively check my battery level. This is mostly due to WeChat. WeChat can be most accurately described as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ApplePay, and Venmo all rolled into one convenient phone app. Without a smartphone to access WeChat, life in China would be considerably more difficult. At school, students also use it to easily send documents to each other for group projects, since Google Drive is blocked in mainland China. When friends go out to eat, they have the option to quickly send each other money through the “Go Dutch” function. Posting pictures and statuses that can be “liked” is analogous to tweeting or posting pictures on Instagram, while the messaging function is almost identical to Facebook’s, equipped with the ability to voice message and video call. Simply scan the QR code that a local street vendor or restaurant has displayed, and money can be deducted directly from your bank account using WeChat Pay. It is also possible to link apps to your WeChat pay account, like Didi (similar to Uber). There is no need to hail a cab in modern-day Beijing; simply call one on your cell phone, and when you arrive at your destination, a previously agreed-upon amount of money will be automatically deducted from your WeChat account. WeChat pay is so ubiquitous that many Beijingers, including myself, don’t carry cash with them. However, if your cell phone dies, chopsticks will no longer be the biggest obstacle between you and your next meal.