Today’s class gave us some basic concepts about the media life which we are living and three perspectives – artifacts, information and social arrangements – to look at it. As a group of people who are living in media, how can we change reality? This question reminds me of a controversy in China three years ago. In 2011, China saw the rising of social media, especially Weibo, which was a Chinese version of twitter but was more image-friendly than twitter (Chinese government has banned the access to twitter). The controversy came with a slogan which is ‘attention is power, circusee changes China’ (Circusee is a net expression which combines ‘circus’ and ‘see’ meaning to surround and watch an event without actually participate or intervene the event, for example to repost and comment about a protest without actually participate in it). Opinion divided on the question ‘could circusee really change China or ever change anything’.
A microblog circusee [china.com.cn]
It’s an interesting question not only in China and not only during that time. It has a common concern in it which is we are so deeply immersed in the media life that we forget about the reality or become indifferent to the reality. Sometimes it seems that all the reposts and comments, share and like are just meaningless. You can shout on Weibo for the freedom of speech for a thousand times but it will not change the reality that your radical shout will be deleted by the authority.
But here I want to use an example to say that sometimes a simple repost does change reality. It’s an online movement initiated by a scholar called Yu Jianrong in China. He encouraged people to take pictures of homeless and begging children they saw and post them on Weibo with a hashtag, so that these pictures could be easily repost and spread, so that parents whose children had been lost or kidnapped could review these pictures and see whether their children are among them. Parents were also encouraged to post pictures of their lost children so that netizens could see whether there was someone they had seen. This movement engaged thousands of hundreds of Chinese netizens and helped to find at least 6 lost children in two weeks, including this boy http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/02/09/after-three-years-internet-reunites-chinese-man-with-kidnapped-son/ who had been lost for three years.