January 9, 2014, by Tony Hong

Not Everyone Loves Social Media

By Dr. Shixin Ivy Zhang,

Assistant Professor in Journalism Studies,

School of International Communications,
University of Nottingham Ningbo China.

The most popular term in 2013 may be ‘phubbing’, a combination of ‘phone’ and ‘snub’. This term was coined by Macquarie Dictionary team in Australia in 2012. It refers to the annoying habit of snubbing someone in favor of their mobile phone. A person who has that behavior is called a ‘phubber’. As Greta Kreuz writes on the ABC news channel, ‘it’s undeniably rude when someone would rather text and ignore the person they’re with in favor of their cell – and now that rudeness has a name.’

I am not a phubber. I don’t use wechat. I rarely check or update my sina weibo account. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter thanks to the Chinese government. You may call me a fool or an old timer. But I am sure there are many people out there who just don’t want to be consumed by the social media.

When I interviewed some Chinese journalists for my project in Beijing, I was surprised to find that a few of them are also anti-social-media. Of course they have good reasons to do so. Their concerns are that the users’ comments may be abusive and emotional, users may turn the journalists into a tool to prove their thoughts, and the possible impact on news content.

“I’ve used micro blogging but I am not a micro-blog freak.  It was fine in the beginning then I don’t like it and close it off. I don’t want to be controlled by this stuff,” said A. 

In the beginning, A wanted to try micro-blogging as a new individual medium and to understand how it worked.  Then he stopped using it because he did not want to face abuses from many people.

‘After all, it was my personal medium. I had conversations with a few users who had strong opinions.  I strongly felt that they don’t want to see the true report from a journalist. They want to turn me into a tool to prove their thoughts. Why do I need to fight with them?”

Similarly, B does not use social media and he doesn’t have a micro-blog account. He does not even put anything on Facebook. He is too busy. 

“For the comments and messages people leave on micro-blog about my news reports, I don’t feel they will impact me on the angle of my reporting.  But I’m afraid if I read them for long, I may have certain tendencies subconsciously. Thus I don’t use micro-blogging.  I want to hear about professional opinions.  (The contents on) micro-blogging or BBS, no matter whether they praise me or abuse me, are all emotional.”

Posted in Uncategorized