Internet helps young Chinese shineOctober 3rd, 2009 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS
Beijing, Oct 3 (Xinhua) Website business manger Shao Yibei describes herself as “a tiny waterdrop in the ocean of Chinese netizens longing to shine”. But she never knew she would shine overnight.
The 26-year-old music lover had a five-minute video clip uploaded on the Internet in February, in which she was singing while playing guitar a self-composed song about an urban single woman’s attitude towards marriage.
“My friend uploaded the clip just for fun,” said Shao, “But none of us expected what would happen the next day”.
The response from the virtual world was overwhelming, with more than 300,000 hits during the first couple of days. Shao also received thousands of “friend requests” on her blog.
Movie producers invited Shao to compose songs even when her first album is getting readied.
“I feel difficult to communicate with others in real life, so music is my way of expression,” said Shao, “But it’s the Internet that makes me ‘heard’.”
Shao is now best known as folk singer and blogger “Shao Xiaomao”.
“It’s such a happy surprise to see my ideas being shared by so many people. I’m not alone,” said Shao.
However, doubts, criticism, satire and even verbal abuse come along with praise. Shao learns to face them all at the same time.
“If I’m able to express my ideas freely, why shouldn’t others?” she asked.
Shao’s mother, a high school teacher, can’t digest her daughter’s “Internet incident” easily.
“My mom first felt shameful that I was talking about marriage in the song straightaway, which she thought should be private,” said Shao.
“Then she blamed me for standing out on the Internet even though she knew it wasn’t me who started it.”
In a country like China where traditionally “I” is likely to surrender to “we”, Shao and her peers are witnessing a revolution that turns more and more Chinese to identify themselves as individuals in the cyber world.
The different opinions towards the Internet between Shao and her mother reflect the profound changes in China since the country adopted the reform and opening-up policies in the late 1970s, said Hu Qiheng, chairperson of the Internet Society of China (ISC).
The Internet is playing an important role in raising the public awareness of individuality and citizenship in China, by “providing a platform for the Chinese, who tend to be silent in real life, to express themselves and exchange ideas”, said Hu.
“Everyone is someone on the Internet, which has been shaping a new generation in China. Between their own interests and the mainstream social values, they are more freely pursuing the former than their parents,” Hu added.
More than 1,000 scientists were among the first Internet surfers in China. Fifteen years later, the country’s netizen population surged to 338 million, according to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in July.
Zhang Jie, a 26-year-old editor in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, has found surfing indispensable in her daily life since she first had access to Internet 10 years ago.
“The Internet does not only bring convenience to my life, but more importantly, it reforms my mindset,” said Zhang.
Tianya Forum, a virtual social community based in the southern-most Hainan Province, is Zhang’s favourite. Her daily visit to the forum includes reading entries from “Tianya By-talk”, which focuses on burning social issues.
Founded in 1999, Tianya has become one of the most popular online communities in China, where Zhang transforms herself into a netizen named “Caocao” or “Grass”.
The latest topic that attracted Zhang’s concern is the crackdown on mafia in Chongqing.
“Different opinions stir scepticism and push me to look into the issues more carefully before coming to a conclusion,” she said. “The Internet gives me much more than a digital identity, it transforms me into a person with independent thought and open mind.”
Administrator Xiaodang attributed the forum’s success to its openness and tolerance of different ideas.
“Everyone can express their ideas and carry out discussions. Sometimes quarrels are inevitable,” he said.
Xiaodang is proud of Tianya users’ involvement in social issues. A recent example is a Hong Kong-based user who called for compassion and donations for the typhoon victims in Taiwan.
“It raised a stronger sense of social responsibilities among netizens,” he said.
The Internet has broadened the information channels for the general public, and “more importantly, the distribution of information is interactive and real-time”, said Chen Jiangong, a CNNIC senior analyst.
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Tags: beijing, couple of days, cyber world, folk singer, high school teacher, minute video clip, music lover, netizens, old music, peers, playing guitar, producers, satire, single woman, uploaded, verbal abuse, virtual world, waterdrop, website business, xinhua