Trawling Weibo incognito

By Hannah Leung Source:Global Times Published: 2012-4-22 19:45:02

I was initially hesitant about joining China's Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo. I was dogged by the same hesitation I usually reserve for dodgy chaunr (skewered meat) vendors in Sanlitun. I'm enticed by the drool-inducing smell, but fear stomach-wrenching repercussions the morning after gorging on grilled mutton. Weibo, like chuanr, hooks you after the first bite. 

I just can't help it. Since discovering Weibo, I spend hours trawling others' microblogs online. I justify the habit by claiming it's a practical way of improving my Chinese comprehension, but who am I kidding? I'm far too lazy to look up characters.

Visual stimulation aside, every foreigner in Beijing should get a Weibo account because it is the best way of receiving groundbreaking news. 

Yesterday, I learned that fashion icon Victoria Beckham was teetering around Beijing in impressive stilettos when pictures of her carrying a plump newborn at Sanlitun's Opposite House surfaced on various posts. I have other details I won't disclose because I don't want anyone to overcrowd me in the stalking.

Though this gossip will fail to impress those with more refined and less superficial tastes, it provided me with great conversation to occupy the first half of dinner.

My friends spent the other half of dinner taking pictures from high angles (flattering for figures and faces), then uploading them onto their microblogs.

I must confess that I'm a secret Weibo user. My use of Weibo is similar to how I covertly indulge in my appetite for street food, nibbling at a chicken leg and praying no one will see the grease smeared all over my face. I'm an active stalker and passive poster.

I hardly ever post, except for when I stumble upon a cute puppy on the street. In this era of over sharing, I err on the conservative side. Revealing personal information fuels social anxiety. I'll probably have to medicate myself after writing this feature.

In the epidemic of making things public, I personally vouch for the private. But I love it when other people lie on the far end of the spectrum.

This is my conundrum, my fight of inner dualities and doppelgangers; I want to be a dynamic, frequent poster on Sina Weibo, but I'm gripped by passivity and laziness.

My narcissistic side tells me that I should upload altered pictures of myself at multifarious, fabulous locations. My realistic side tells me that no one cares, including me. Eating chuanr on the street is also uninteresting, but it's depressing to realize your friends have legions of followers and you are stuck with fans who mistakenly add you.

In the end, I'm fine with being an observer and follower. I'm content that the wave of narcissism also validates voyeuristic habits. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must check Weibo for updates on Victoria Beckham's latest whereabouts. 

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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