It’s been quite a while since we talked about Han Han. The Chinese writer/blogger/race car driver has long been known as one of China’s most popular — and most daring — web celebs, but he has been comparatively quiet over the past year.
Late yesterday, he broke his silence on to share a short post on his blog in which he discusses his impressions of Sina Weibo and Tencent’s WeChat. It’s a pretty interesting post, so we’ve translated select sections of it below for you to enjoy (links added by us, though).
On Weibo Followers:
Personally I think weibo follower numbers are just a way of fooling both yourself and others. I won’t comment on other people, but among my followers [he has more than 11 million], there are definitely plenty of zombies, and weird and inactive followers. In short, there’s definitely some water content [i.e., padding in the numbers].
[...] The way some internet companies count things, this short essay is already 300,000 words long. If Weibo lasts long enough, I look forward to the day when the first V user has more followers than there are Chinese internet users, or even more followers than the world’s total population.
On Weibo Culture:
Weibo definitely has its advantages; it makes it harder to hide news stories, makes speech more free, and in some very specific moments it’s the only thing you can use. But at the same time, it also makes us deceive ourselves; if you say some sentence or some line is taken from your post and retweeted thousands of times, you feel like everyone on the street is passing along your now-famous saying [...] and even the cacti in the Taklamakan desert are talking about it.
[...] The state of things on weibo is actually a lot like Chinese society, one in a thousand people has a little bit of an identity and the ability to speak out, four out of a thousand people are just trying to promote themselves, and the other 990 are just grass people. When the wind blows dirt across grass, optimistic grass believes it is the wind and pessimistic grass believes it is the sand. As for the last five people, they’re out pretending to be the one-in-a-thousand [who can actually make an impact with their posts].
On WeChat Culture:
Now it’s much more likely that [I will] open WeChat instead of Weibo. My circle of friends is getting more and more active, and a lot of the people around me who would fit into the group of 990 people [mentioned above] can find more of a feeling that they actually exist in their friend circles on WeChat. At least on WeChat their posts will be seen by the people who should see them, and it won’t be like being ignored and overlooked with zero reposts and zero comments on Weibo.
On Tencent and Microblogging Also-Rans:
I’m not trying to come off as advertising for Tencent here; Tencent has also done some crappy things. And as far as other websites’ weibo services [besides Sina and Tencent] [...] I suspect there are fewer active users on these sites than there are people in my residential community.
On smartphones and life:
As a writer, taking a non-smartphone out with me is very necessary. I haven’t done enough, haven’t traveled far enough. [...] This is just my personal mindset and reflection, but there are so many lively faces and beautiful scenes [out in the world], I think this year I can waste less time looking at screens. These two “micro” services [Weibo and WeChat] are good, but they can’t encroach too much on my life. The world is vast; if you’re Chinese get out and have a look around.
When I wrote recently about the Weibo vs. WeChat war, a number of commenters expressed skepticism that the two services were really competing given how different they are. In Han Han’s post, we can see that the services compete at the basic level of fighting for users’ attention in the limited time they’re willing to spend on social media, but I think Han Han’s point about how Weibo and WeChat make you feel is also a very important one. Weibo can make you feel very important when a post goes viral, but that’s mostly an illusion. WeChat doesn’t offer that same kind of thrill, but it does give the feeling of actually being heard to the many people who don’t have massive followings on Weibo and have trouble getting anyone’s attention there.
The post Chinese Celebrity Blogger Han Han Talks Weibo, WeChat, and Why User Numbers Are Bullshit appeared first on Tech in Asia.
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