For the third year, Group+ has ranked its top-30 online communities, which is interesting as it is part of a model of disseminating information about not-for-profit, non-governmental organizing. Over 1,500 groups use Group+, a Shenzhen-based online platform to organize real time “community” events. Fat Bird ranked 3rd, even above the Shenzhen Reading Federation (#5) and Green Mango (#13), which have much broader audiences than does experimental theater. What do these rankings tell us about the possibilities of imagining outside the state in Shenzhen specifically and China more generally? Continue reading
Handshake 302 has been we-chatting in Chinese for half a year now. We are now starting to offer updates in English as well. If you scan our barcode (above), you will receive updates in English and Chinese about one of Shenzhen’s most vibrant public arts projects. The updates also include information about upcoming events and instructions about how to join our events. Welcome to the conversation!
As China recovers from what General Secretary Xi Jinping has called a terrorist attack in Kunming, just a note on the weixin posts that have been forwarded within my circle. Much fear of Muslims and people from Xinjiang, even as stories of happy Tibetans also circulate. The discourse is distressing not only for its stereotypes, but also for its identification of China with Han people. There is no place for China’s ethnic minorities within the Han nation, but there is no place outside either. The have been included in the state so as to be more effectively excluded from the nation. Sigh.
Who knew? It’s possible to not view someone’s general weixin posts and to block them from seeing your posts. This way one can accept friend requests, engage in one-to-one texts, and keep a definite distance. This discovery led to a discussion of all the kindly people who are spending too much time forwarding “must reads” and cluttering up virtual space. The conclusion? Don’t become one of those people who get passively blocked by limiting the number of cat photos you upload.
I aspire to a life of early to bed and early to rise. When I do rise early, I find my cellphone blinking with weixin alerts — throughout the night, friends have been pinging bursts of characters at each other, usually concluding with some clear indication that they are going to sleep. Weixin goes quiet until someone asks, “Who else has insomnia?”
According to Wikipedia, there are there kinds of insomnia — transient, acute, and chronic, which are defined in temporal terms. Transient insomnia lasts less than a week, acute lasts longer than a week but less than a month; chronic insomnia stretches beyond the limits of monthly endurance — “maybe I’ll go to work in a bit,” another blurts, “who wants to sleep anyway?”
I have read literary insomniacs most of my life and enjoyed the hardboiled insomnia of noir films — will there ever be a morning? But I have understood Emily Dickinson’s lament as metaphor for a more general human condition, rather than an explicit 3:24 a.m. call for help. Even Sylvia Plath seems — on printed page — to have come to a tentative understanding with sleeplessness:
She married the prince
and all went well
except for the fear —
the fear of sleep.
was an insomniac…
She could not nap
or lie in sleep
without the court chemist
mixing her some knock-out drops
and never in the prince’s presence.
Nevertheless, weixin insomnia haunts me because I am unsure of the etiquette surrounding these direct glimpses into someone else’s pain. Do I acknowledge the call when I wake up? Do I ask how they’ve been sleeping next time we meet? Or do I just ignore the messages, as if I never saw them, and let the sarcasm and loneliness linger?
Apparently a Chinese tourist wrote the characters ” 丁锦昊到此一游 (Ding Jinhao arrived here)” on one of the bas-relief sculptures at the Luxor Temple in Amun, Egypt. In turn, another Chinese tourist discovered the defacement and uploaded a picture to weibo, where it was picked up by the weixin and other news outlets. Today, Epoch Times has reported that the parents of Ding Jinhao have appologized for their son’s behavior.
Unfortunately, a few clicks around the web suggest that vandalism of cultural heritage and sacred sites is common. What seems notable in this case has been the outrage of the Chinese netizens and the consensus around “national shame”. Moreover, the use of social media to bring about this public shaming reminds us of the ongoing debate about the public face of Chinese tourists. It may also be that this vandalism shocked my friends because they believe that no matter how much Chinese people disregard the law at home, once abroad they become law-abiding citizens.