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In Greece, social media replaces cash

The Greek crisis is boosting a new social phenomenon. So says an Athens PhD student who is living through the crisis and researching it at the same time

In Greece, social media is increasingly helping people to help each other.

This is according to Eleni-Revekka Staiou, a PhD student who is researching the new phenomenon in Athens. As we publish, Greece is openly considering leaving the eurozone after five years of economic recession, massive cuts to public spending and a series of financial bailouts.

»With the crisis, some people do not have money for the very basics. They understood that the only way to survive is to help each other. This help and the communication and the organizing in general is easier with social media. They are cheap, quick, easy-to-use and almost all use them,« explains Eleni whose project is called ‘eGovernance and Social media, the Greek case’.

Greek crisis changed her project

She names the use of social media to barter goods and services as an example:

»In many villages they have started to use a different currency than euros. Also, they have started to exchange things and not buy them. Through social media this is much easier,« she explains.

»My PhD, in the very beginning, had a broader focus on eGov [digital interaction between government and citizens, ed.] but as we saw the trials of the Greeks to organize themselves we thought it may be interesting to focus on that,« she says.

No grant

For Eleni, her own crisis experience lends a special urgency to her project.

»As a university we do not have the money to do the things we want. There are much fewer paid projects. Also, our families have been affected because our income is much lower, but the taxes higher,« she says.

Eleni is working on her PhD without a grant, something quite normal in Greece.

No need for office

»I receive my [deceased, ed] father’s pension. I live with my mother and the house is ours, so we do not have rent etc. I do not have any major costs every month. I need 100 euros/month for my mobile and my transportation tickets and that’s all,« she explains.

Luckily in Greece, there are no fees in the university, she explains.

»I do not have an office, because I am in the Laboratory of New technologies in the uni and if I need anything I can go there, sit and work,« she says.

Country needs us

Eleni was in London for one year to do her Master’s.

»To be honest I did not like the life in London, we are very different in Greece and I couldn’t get used to it. Also, before the end of my MSc my professor had proposed to me doing the PhD, so I did not have any reason to stay in the UK,« she says, adding that she might take a post doc afterwards.

If it is abroad, it will not be for long: »I have my family here and my friends, but I do not want to leave Greece permanently. I believe that our country needs us!«

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