informal analysis of chinese teenager’s view towards the world through social news website

currently working in shanghai behind the chinese firewall so i apologize for the lack of blog posts even though i’ve had a ton of thoughts but don’t have access to wordpress at work.

background:
I’m a redditor, the noncontributing type, so I was interested in see what the chinese version of reddit is in china.
The chinese equivalent of reddit is mop.com, and for a more reddit like experience, tt.mop.com or dzh.mop.com

observable characteristics in both reddit and mop
a lot of self posts, people posting about their own stories
mop.com has their equivalent to r/g.w. but not 18+
things get extremely viral

some unique characteristic of mop.com:
most of the news concerns the strange, the ugly and the unbelievable,
comments on reddit are almost always comforting and nice, not necessarily true for mop. some comments are quite nasty.
there’s a huge emphasis on pictures. if people tell a good story, netizens want pictures.

informal analysis, hypothesized reason for observed behavior:
1) society is corrupt, there is a lot of injustice and abuse of power.

This is understood among the general Chinese population. Corruption is prevalent in every facet of society, even in the pinnacles of power. It is understood among people that if want to get ahead, then you’re going to have to bribe. It’s not only giving out favors but also includes helping to get away with things, dismiss prosecution and bypass regulation. Examples I won’t provide but I might do a more detailed post if enough people want me to in the comments.

The psychological effects of corruption trickles down to everyone. People recognize that there really isn’t any point to follow the right path if everyone else takes the shortcut. The economic effect is gigantic wealth disparity. This leads to a hostile environment where power begets more power and everyone is trying to reach the top and try to outbribe each other.

Netizens, especially teenagers, are disgruntled by society. Unable to do anything, they try to exert their own version of justice in the online space. The emphasis on showing scandals, showing the ugly parts of society reflects this sort of attitude. Many comments are nice but also many comments are along the lines of “you should have known better” and sorts. You can feel a kind of animosity even towards strangers, rising from the anger/sadness from the commentor towards the OP for not recognizing the signs and an anger towards society. In chinese, we call this 厌愤. It would be appreciated if anyone could give a better explanation of this. It also leads to a distrust among people and thus the need for pictures for proof. The phrase popular among the forum is 有图有真相.

I also feel that the low value society puts on virtue leads to a materialistic obsession of the people as nothing is more real than money. Although I haven’t really seen this on the mop yet, I’ve been told that the Chinese have a much stronger obsession towards luxury goods leading to posts titled “showing all the luxury brand purses/dreses/bags i own”

2) China is big, incredibly so.
There’s 1.3 billion people in China. A quarter of the world lives in China. Thus, a quarter of the world’s events also happen in China. Rare things happen often and extremely rare things also happen.
Unified by a common language and culture, likes and dislikes of the 1.3 billion people are similar. Adding to this are people who realize that they otherwise would never be known in the world, so they are willing to share a lot of private information. They also find a comfort in this mass of people because they think nobody will ever find them ( which is partly true until you have millions of netizens on your tail are trying to find you). Adding to this again is our first observation that the Chinese netizens have an affinity towards the strange and ugly. Then, you have the perfect formula for a viral explosion, a really strange event that captures the attention of a few, who dedicate their time to finding out more about it, and publish it to the world through mop.com and it blows up to a massive scale. People comment and spoof and parodize to exert some of the pressure from living in this unjust society.

Some unanswered questions
what is the demographics of mop.com
why are people so willing to post pictures?
and what are yours?

my deal with social media

can you imagine a day without facebook anymore? without tags, likes, comments, hashtags? what did we do before that?

for those of us who grew up with the internet boom, who wrote e-mails before we wrote real letters, we understand the word media very differently from those who precede us, even our parents.

to list a simple example, it took me and my brother a long time to explain to my mom why people uploaded Naturo episodes onto youtube for free. our reason was social recognition.

it took PR firms and the public years and months before some corporations are now finally putting down the corporate PR face and allowing employee blogs, personal releases.

it took a long time too for me to convince myself to publicize my blog, have a linkedin profile, put stuff onto social network sites. because if you think about it, it’s absolutely amazing how much information we now have of each other after just a few years of voluntarily putting up information on sites like facebook, twitter and blogs.

the stuff i have publicized is probably more than many authors whose understanding and craft of the English language exceed mine.

slowly, we’ve seen over the generations, the lowering of the barriers to entry of expression. it used to be that you had to be a reputable and rich man to start a newspaper. now, the barrier of entry of publishing your first blog post is now minutes, as wordpress famously advertises. it takes a few clicks of the thumb to publish your less-than-140-characters tweet to your followers.

the world is changing, one of the changing forces is social media. more and more people are doing things not the Taylor way, but for social recognition or simply because they like doing it.

everything is a social experiment, including this blog series, this one-way street into the increasing heap of digital noise that is changing the way we understand media. we don’t know where it’s headed but no one wants to be the last to arrive at the scene anymore.