Social media seems to be widening the social chasm
An old friend, a retiree, is so concerned about public affairs that he keeps re-transmitting stories, essays, even hearsays, on a lot of things to hisWeChat contacts. What is surprising is that he had never seemed interested in many of the things in the past. It is the smartphone and social media tool such as WeChat that seem to have added a lot to the meaning to his otherwise simple and monotonous home-centered life.
I have no idea where he gets his stories from, perhaps from some apps which I don’t know about or from some like-mindedWeChat users. One of the stories he sent to hisWeChat group a couple of days ago was about the atrocities committed by eight “allied” powers inNortheast China’s Liaoning province “on Christmas Eve in 1898”. He had got his facts wrong. It was czarist Russia alone that invadedNortheast China in 1900.
For people who would have otherwise focused on family matters and ignored most of the things happening beyond their own communities, social media is a channel to look beyond their immediate circle and to get their voice heard in a much wider circle.
Givenmy experience— thanks to theWeChat groups I share withmy colleagues or old friends— those who used to be the most silent tend to be most active in disseminating hearsays. They also tend to support people with extreme views on many issues.