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The power and glory (3)

(China Daily)

10:20, September 18, 2011

Each day, thousands call out to her via the micro blog. On the day of our interview, she had 5,000 messages waiting for a reply. Many are genuine cries for help, and the cases may range from simple quarrels to what they see as unfair treatment.

Yao says she inherited her sense of chivalry from her father, and she did initially recognize her power in highlighting certain situations on her micro blog, spotlighting some cases and broadcasting calls for assistance. But one day, she took a hard lesson.

In June this year, she posted an entry that told a sad story. Her mother's cousin tried to commit suicide by swallowing rat poison because her land was requisitioned with what she considered unfair compensation.

Yao's mother asked Yao if she knew anyone in Beijing who could help their relative. But Yao said she knew no one, and could only help by posting the story.

But when she deleted the entry, there were those who immediately assumed Yao was afraid of the authorities although she denied that. She said it was the excessively emotional responses from the netizens that made her remove that micro blog.

"If I use this platform to publicize my family problems and solve them, people would say 'She's a public figure and able to use the power of the micro blog to solve her own problems.' It'll trigger negative emotions among those who can't have their own problems solved," she explains.

This made her realize that in harnessing such huge influence, she needed to moderate her postings in view of the larger responsibility. As Yao realizes that power comes in tandem with responsibility, she has set two major guidelines for herself. One, that she avoids posting or reposting anything that she cannot verify as the truth. Two, that she no longer blogs on any situation she feels may be hard or impossible to solve.

"If I get angry about something I read on micro blogs and then repost it, it will only trigger more hatred," she says.

In her wisdom born from experience, Yao has witnessed how micro blogs can become "twisted and ferocious" as people habitually vent their anger toward any injustice on the blogs.

Instead, Yao wants to harness the positive powers.

"I hope it will be a place where I can get enlightened and energized. Sure, it can reveal the dark sides, but it should not be just about that."

From now on at least, Yao wants to spread happiness by posting positive things, and passing on information that may change people's lives for the better.

You can contact the writers at [email protected] and [email protected]

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