Home>>Columnists >> Li Hongmei's column

Micro-blogging, a good thing is bad

17:11, February 22, 2011

    Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum

By Li Hongmei

The Internet, in particular, the new technology of the Internet, seems to be reshaping the landscape of average people's life, in a subtle and substantive way. Microblogging is becoming so global like "wild fire" that even many heads of state are busy weaving a "bib." These political dignitaries take advantage of this new social networking platform for diplomacy, therein was born a new word ---"micro-Bo diplomacy" or "Twitplomacy"---- Combining Twitter and Diplomacy which means micro-blogging diplomacy.

No one can be fully sure about what change can arise and what direction the unfolded technology worship will point to. But, people now begin to increasingly realize that, in terms of the social networking like micro-blogging, to know how to deal with it appears much more important than to know what it is.

The upheavals rattling the Middle East have further stirred up the excitement of the Internet enthusiasts with political appeals, in particular the zealous politicians. And the popular uprisings are therefore dubbed as "Twitter Revolution"----This might also explain why the whole thing could have such a universal appeal which can touch so many of the average people and resound across borders. People tend to follow a trend if it is simplified and at best symbolized.

In a recent speech, US Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton stood up for the so-called "Internet Diplomacy", which she takes as a more handy and effective tool to attract and unite the populace than any other manipulating way as imagined.

Albeit the fact that the Internet has radically altered the way people think and memorize and exerted tremendous influence upon people's habits and decisions, the relative proportion and the absolute number are both testing people's judgment and analysis in any society. Take the Chinese community----As of 2010, the Internet coverage rate in China has reached 34.3%, with approximately 457 million netizens, and more than 63 million micro-blogging users. Meanwhile a survey conducted nationwide also sheds light on a noteworthy phenomenon, that is, among the Chinese netizens, 76.7% of them have no higher learning background, and 83% get the monthly income under 2,000 yuan (US$305).

This indicates that the absolute number of Chinese netizens is gigantic, but if compared with China's large population of 1.3 billion, it is still a limited proportion. Also in light of the reality that the majority of the Chinese netizens are under educated and under paid, how much they can represent the Chinese "public opinions" must be highly dubious.

Admittedly, micro-blogging serves as an ideal platform for instant information dissemination and exchange. But it is also evident that the online information is, more often than not, intermingled with good and bad; true and false. If people fail to make a sound decision based on the cool-headed judgment and, lack the ability to sort out truth from all the confusion online, they could blindly follow a disastrous trend, ending up with hope dimmed and life goal smashed.

Just give another thought to the case of Egypt, the Western media again never hesitate to cash in on the idea that the Egyptian uprising was Internet Revolution, and it was Twitter and Face book that helped spur on international coverage of the events unfolding, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. However, the West pays no heed to the true feeling of the ordinary Egyptians who actually have no access to computers, and pushed to streets by the few elites with some idea of reform enlightened by the Western-style democracy, and motivated to follow suit by the slogans and symbols which sound all alien to their knowledge.

Most of the Egyptians, in actuality, have no idea about what it should be like after Mubarak, nor can they imagine any change to be ushered in their banal life by ousting him.

Indeed, the widespread and diversified information devices, micro-blogging platform included, have force people to think seriously----what they should do next after criticizing and denying a fait accompli. Otherwise, they could only be drowned by the so-called "Internet Diplomacy."

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

Post your comments:

About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."