Wayne’s Worlds: Facebook banned: a social dilemma in China

Wayne ChanBy Wayne ChanNorthwest Asian WeeklyAs a frequent traveler to China during the last 30 years, I always return home realizing that I missed something. Thirty years ago, the list of things I missed were some of the comforts of home — water you can drink from the faucet, air conditioning, and of course, my basic sustenance — Egg McMuffins.Of course, anyone visiting China now knows that times certainly have changed in the major cities. No, you still can’t drink water from the faucet, but who needs to when a Perrier or a Frappuccino is right around the corner?And I’m not kidding about the Frappuccino. There’s a Starbucks on every corner, and each time I go back, they’re building additional corners just so they can add more Starbucks. I come back home to the United States and I get frustrated that it takes me two whole minutes to find a Starbucks.Image by Stacy Nguyen/NWAW

Having come back from China this past week, I realize that what I really missed was something unexpected. This time, it had nothing to do with the little conveniences we all sometimes take for granted, at least materially speaking. China is chock full of Ferraris, Rolexes, and every little extravagance you can imagine.

Let me give you a hint — I normally would have shared my frustration at the one thing I really missed while I was in China, but I couldn’t, because the one thing I missed was exactly the thing that prevented me from sharing my concerns.

Time’s up — for those of you who haven’t guessed, I’m talking about Facebook, Twitter, and all the other sites that are banned in China.

Please understand, it’s not like I’m on Facebook day and night. I’m actually a relative newcomer to it. But being a writer, Facebook is a way for me to share my thoughts and get feedback before I put pen to paper (or in this case, words to a word processor). I compare it to a stand-up comic testing his material out in small clubs before he goes out on a major tour.

Being a cooperative sort, I thought maybe I should review some of my past Facebook and other social media activities and see if there was anything that I’ve written that could be construed as truly objectionable, which would justify a need to block it in the first place. The following are some of my recent posts.

— I’ve been on a diet for four weeks and have lost 25 pounds. Yesterday, I decided to take a break and had a Big Mac with a small order of fries and in doing so, managed to gain five pounds! Therefore, I am convinced that I’ve somehow managed to circumvent the laws of physics and/or come up with a way to solve all hunger in the developing world.

— I wonder if the person who came up with the idea for the movie “Snakes on a Plane” came up with the idea out of personal experience. If that’s the case, I have four words for you: “Crawdads Down Your Pants.” Don’t even ask.

— Whenever my wife is out of town and the primary responsibility of getting the kids ready for school falls to me, I spend most of my waking hours figuring out ways to feed my kids that require the least amount of work on my part — this includes preparation, cooking, serving, and dishwashing. This morning’s breakfast included leftover meatballs on bamboo sticks toasted in the oven and finishing half a carton of milk by drinking it round-robin-style.

In reviewing these three posts, based on my objective evaluation, I would rate the first one as embarrassing, the second one as mortifyingly embarrassing, and the third one as embarrassingly lazy.

Considering how these posts make me look, maybe the ban actually did me a little good. (end)

Wayne Chan can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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