Engaging Chinese Netizens: Fanfou
I’ve argued, citing the words of the Dalai Lama himself, that if you
1) Believe in democratic principles and free speech
2) You believe the Internet is a tool for unfettered global communication
3) There’s something in China (or any other country) that bothers you
Then you ought to put some energy into communicating directly with Chinese netizens about the problem. For years now I’ve seen alot of Chinese netizens discussions be completely ignored or simply missed by English-speaking netizens, who too often think that Chinese netizens are all completely brainwashed. Well, guess what? Some of them think you are too. Instead of dismissing each other as fools, how about we try to talk? So I say, Tweet Back! Tweet in English, alot of Chinese people know some. If you know Chinese… what are you waiting for? I’ve been translating alot of Chinese tweets on Tibet this weekend, and alot of them break the stereotype of the frothing nationalist Chinese blogger. These are Chinese people who adopt alot of Web 2.0 applications alot of the time, they aren’t just blowhards in chat rooms. Some are journalists, professionals and students.
Of course, this isn’t going to be easy. First steps usually don’t work so well. But its time to start trying some things instead of just throwing our hands in the air and dismissing the other side as brainwashed, indoctrinated or oppressed. There’s life out there folks, try making contact. You might be surprised. You might just learn something if you keep an open mind and try to hold a respectful dialogue despite your differences. Move out of your comfort zone, show some patience, and try to listen.
So here’s a quick tutorial to sign up for Fanfou. If you go on twifan.com and search for “Tibet” in English or “西藏”, which is Tibet in Chinese, you’ll find plenty of people to talk to. And you can always Fanfou me. My name there now is 八仙過海 means (Eight Immortals Cross the Sea).
Go to your homepage and its pretty much like Twitter. I realize this isn’t a full tutorial, but I wanna get this started. Also, you can put this link on your Firefox toolbar Zh -> En and when you view a Chinese page, press it to get an instant sloppy Google translation. It ain’t a great solution, but again, its a start, and these are short messages, so you may be able to get the gist.