At Tea Leaf Nation, Natalie Thomas points to signs that netizens are growing disillusioned with social media as a force for social and political change, as apparent victories turn out to be hollow and numbness sets in.
While [Sina] Weibo can on occasion help incite real change, even on the streets, the sheer number of injustices that flash almost daily across Chinese Web users’ respective feeds means that citizens, armed with social media alone, simply do not have the power to combat even a small portion of them. As a result, some measure of ennui and resignation has begun to set in. In late October, online personality Zuoye Ben (@作业本), a pseudonymous Weibo user known for original and often critical views, gave voice to a growing feeling of fatigue among social media users. In a post commemorating three years of using the Weibo service, Zuoye Ben concluded that “Weibo has not changed China, it has just changed you and me: I have gradually got used to being cold and indifferent, just like you have slowly got tired of Weibo.” These words have been re-posted over [30,000] times and have garnered over [10,000] comments.
[…] Taken alone, Weibo is inadequate as a tool for delivering social justice because the service is not an open forum for comment — the Chinese government maintains firm control over how wide this window of free discussion is allowed to open. When debate grows too ferocious, authorities have the power to choke it off, banning keyword terms and strategically disabling functions to tamp down discussion. […]
As a result the service finds itself in a position similar to that of the country’s legal system. In theory, Weibo is a platform for citizens to give feedback and raise complaints, but ultimately the Party has the final say
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