So­cial me­dia seems to be widen­ing the so­cial chasm

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEWS -

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.

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