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In The Digital Age, ‘Handwritten Weibo’ Have Become All The Rage

A new trend on Sina Weibo is showing the more artisanal side of Chinese netizens. In an age where everything is digital, ‘Handwritten Weibo’ have become all the rage.

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A new trend on Sina Weibo is showing the more artisanal side of Chinese netizens. In an age where everything is digital, ‘handwritten Weibo’ have become all the rage.

Handwritten Weibo have become a new trend on   Sina Weibo. Weibo (literally meaning ‘micro-blog’) now attracts a large number of netizens who post their status updates in written notes. With photos of little handwritten scribbles, under the hashtag of #手写微博# (“handwritten Weibo”), netizens post poems, wishes, stories or just simple signatures. In an age where everything is digitalized, handwritten characters come back to life in China’s online environment.

 

“The world is so big, I want to go out and see it.”

 

Last month, one handwritten note caused a huge buzz in China’s social media. Female teacher Gu Shaoqiang at Henan Experimental High School resigned from her job by writing a simple note that said: “The world is so big, I want to go out and see it”.

U10808P1T1D31717261F21DT20150414205411The resignation note that went viral, saying: “The world is so big, I want to go out and see it.”

A snapshot of the note went viral, and netizens praised the teacher for her courage, wanderlust and bravery, but most of all – for her nice handwriting.

Handwriting bestirs quite some emotions amongst Chinese. For many Chinese, mastering good handwriting is as important as one’s physical appearance. The long tradition of Chinese handwriting and its close ties to power and tradition is still shaping modern views of handwriting in China. People tend to comment on a bad hand, and being able to write beautifully is connected to their personhood and level of education. Practicing calligraphy or fountain-pen calligraphy is a very popular pastime, and bookshops all over China offer many kinds of practicing books with practice copy paper to improve handwriting.

There is no Chinese ‘alphabet’. Instead, every word is composed of one or multiple characters. Respected Chinese dictionaries list more than 85,000 characters. An estimated 7000 characters are needed for everyday use. But with the rise of new technology, Chinese penmanship is on the decline. With the help of software on computers, smartphones and tablets, Chinese users can type in the basic sound of words in Latin letters, whereafter the correct characters are picked from a list. Due to these new technologies, more and more people in China can recognize characters, but forget how to write them.

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Because of China’s ‘character amnesia’, China’s Education Ministry wants children to spend more time learning how to write; younger students should have classes every week specifically in writing Chinese characters. Older students are offered optional lessons and after-school activities.

Whether or not the emergence of handwritten notes on Weibo is due to aspirations of becoming as inspiring and trending as Gu Shaoqiang, to show off nice handwriting or to ‘circumvent the netnanny’ [getting around China’s online censorship] is not clear, but people seem to have fun with it. Most notes are a little melancholic or poetic, and there are many little love notes or poems in handwriting.

This girl posted a sentence of a poem by the Russian Konstantin Balmont: “I entered this world to see the sun” (为了看看阳光,我来到这个世上):

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Wishing everybody a goodnight, this user is posting her handwritten note saying: “As long as you are human, I wish you a life long without sorrow” (“除非黄土白骨我守你百岁无忧”):

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Under the hashtags ‘we live to die’ and ‘handwritten Weibo’, this user is posting her handwritten note saying: ‘Living with pain in this present moment is for the fairness of the future” (“现在活的那么痛苦,还不是为了以后的高漂亮”):
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As the Digital Age is blamed for the forgetfulness on how to write characters, the latest trends on written Weibo’s might offer hope to those fearing a decline in China’s literacy levels.

By Laura Vermeeren
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[box type=”bio”] About the author: Laura Vermeeren is a Dutch sinologist, currently doing her PhD in Calligraphy in Modern China at the University of Amsterdam.[/box]

©2014 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

About the author: Laura Vermeeren is a Dutch sinologist, currently doing her PhD in Calligraphy in Modern China at the University of Amsterdam.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. DorianTang

    May 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    “In The Digital Age, ‘Handwritten Weibo’ Have Become All The Rage” May 8, 2015, the last handwriting weibo should be “现在活的那么痛苦,还不是为了以后死得漂亮”, but not “现在活的那小痛苦,还不是为了以后的高漂亮” which doesn’t make any sense. 🙂

    Nice website!!! Goed bezig!! Veel succes!!

    Groetjes,
    Dorian

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China and Covid19

King of Workout Livestream: Liu Genghong Has Become an Online Hit During Shanghai Lockdown

Liu Genghong (Will Liu) is leading his best lockdown life.

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With their exercise livestreams, Liu and his wife are bringing some positive vibes to Shanghai and the rest of China in Covid times, getting thousands of social media users to jump along with them.

On Friday, April 22, the hashtag “Why Has Liu Genghong Become An Online Hit” (#为什么刘畊宏突然爆火#) was top trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Liu Genghong (刘畊宏, 1972), who is also known as Will Liu, is a Taiwanese singer and actor who is known for playing in dramas (Pandamen 熊貓人), films (True Legend 苏乞儿), and releasing various music albums (Rainbow Heaven 彩虹天堂). He is a devout Christian.

Besides all of his work in the entertainment business, Liu is also a fitness expert. In 2013, Liu participated in the CCTV2 weight loss programme Super Diet King (超级减肥王, aka The Biggest Loser) as a motivational coach, and later also became a fitness instructor for the Jiangsu TV show Changing My Life (减出我人生), in which he also helped overweight people to become fit. After that, more fitness programs followed, including the 2017 Challenge the Limit (全能极限王) show.

During the Covid outbreak in Shanghai, the 50-year-old Liu Genghong has unexpectedly become an online hit for livestreaming fitness routines from his home. Together with his wife Vivi Wang, he streams exercise and dance videos five days of the week via the Xiaohongshu app and Douyin.

In his livestreams, Liu and his wife appear energetic, friendly, happy and super fit. They exercise and dance to up-beat songs while explaining and showing their moves, often encouraging those participating from their own living rooms (“Yeah, very good, you’re doing well!”). Some of their livestreams attract up to 400,000 viewers tuning in at the same time.

The couple, both in lockdown at their Shanghai home, try to motivate other Shanghai residents and social media users to stay fit. Sometimes, Liu’s 66-year-old mother in law also exercises with them, along with the children.

“I’ve been exercising watching Liu and his wife for half an hour, they’re so energetic and familiar, they’ve already become my only family in Shanghai,” one Weibo user says.

“I never expected Liu Genghong to be a ‘winner’ during this Covid epidemic in Shanghai,” another person writes.

Along with Liu’s online success, there’s also a renewed interest in the Jay Chou song Herbalist’s Manual (本草纲目), which is used as a workout tune, combined with a specific dance routine. Liu is also a good friend and fitness pal to Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou.

This week, various Chinese news outlets such as Fengmian News and The Paper have reported on Liu’s sudden lockdown success. Livestreaming workout classes in general have become more popular in China since the start of Covid-19, but there reportedly has been no channel as popular as that of Liu Genghong.

The channel’s success is partly because of Liu’s fame and contagious enthusiasm, but it is also because of Vivi Wang, whose comical expressions during the workouts have also become an online hit.

While many netizens are sharing their own videos of exercizing to Liu’s videos, there are also some who warn others not to strain themselves too quickly.

“I’ve been inside for over 40 days with no exercise” one person writes: “I did one of the workouts yesterday and my heart nearly exploded.” “I feel fine just watching,” others say: “I just can’t keep up.”

Watch one of Liu’s routines via Youtube here, or here, or here.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

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China Music

Weibo is Watching the DJs & Sports Presentation Team at the Winter Olympics Venues

Chinese netizens are not just closely following the athletes, they are also paying more attention to the “atmosphere enliveners” at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

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Chinese netizens are not just closely watching the athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics – the DJs who are performing at the various venues and their noteworthy song selections have also become a popular topic on social media.

On Feb 8th, the US-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu (谷爱凌, Gu Aling) became the youngest ever gold medalist in freestyle skiing, winning the big air event for China. The American-born Gu has become a superstar in China, and everything related to her is going viral these days, including the songs that were playing when Gu had won gold.

The hashtag “When Gu Ailing Won the Gold, Jay Chou’s Song Huo Yuan Jia is Played” (#谷爱凌夺冠现场放周杰伦的霍元甲#) has received more than 29 million on Weibo. Chinese netizens praised the DJs for the song selection, saying it perfectly captured the scene as the song has a strong rhythm, and is also known as ‘Fearless.’

Before the hashtag about Gu went trending, the DJ team already attracted attention on Chinese social media for the interesting and noteworthy music selection at various events.

During the Ice Hockey Women’s Preliminary Round Group A, when Team US competed against Team ROC, there was a conflict between the two teams and the DJ played a remixed version of Katyusha, a Russian song that became famous during World War II. The dramatic effect of the scene and wartime song pairing made the song’s name (#喀秋莎#) and a video of the DJ trying to ‘make some noise’ on the venue go trending on Weibo with over 53 million views. Many netizens thought the music selection was humorous, with some joking that the DJ was adding oil to a burning fire.

Xie Xiao (@篮球DJ小牛), the ice hockey stadium music director for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics who played the song that day, later clarified on Douyin that the selection of Katyusha was not a response to the conflict. Before that game, he allegedly had already planned to use it because it is a famous song in Russia, and he already played a lot of well-known American songs.

Photo via Xie Xao, @篮球DJ小牛

Another creative song choice by this DJ team that resonated with Chinese netizens occurred during another ice hockey match between Team China and Team Japan, when an American DJ performed Defending the Yellow River on a keyboard. In China, Defending the Yellow River is a famous patriotic song. It was the seventh chapter of the classic Yellow River Cantata, written in 1939 to praise the fighting spirit of the Chinese people (#美国DJ现学后现场弹奏保卫黄河#).

A list of popular hashtags on Weibo relating to which songs are played at the venue of the Winter Olympics also demonstrates that music has become a more relevant and popular part of the Olympics, and is also an attractive component of the event that is encouraging more people, especially younger generations, to watch and participate in the Games.

Xie also said that the team is only allowed to select songs from a specific Winter Olympics music library due to copyright and licensing. The library includes 16000 musical tracks divided into various (sub)categories based on music styles, language, and themes, covering many hit songs and different music from all across the world. On the first event day of speed skating, for example, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep blasted through the speakers.

The pandemic has made the role of so-called ‘atmosphere enliveners’ or ‘vibe teams’ (气氛组, 氛围组) more important. This already became clear during the Tokyo Olympics, where we saw empty stadiums due to coronavirus measures, with DJs creating playlists to motivate athletes in the absence of cheering fans. This shift has also brought more online attention for DJs and other crew members, who would usually stay behind the scenes.

On the venues, the atmosphere is raised by Olympic mascots walking, jumping, and running around the venues interacting with smaller audiences. Meanwhile, the DJs are playing energetic tracks or are creating remixes and mash-ups while producers use different elements at the venue to enhance the audience’s experience.

Li Helin, the deputy manager of the venue operations team at Beijing National Speed Skating Oval, takes care of the event presentation at the venue. He also worked as an MC at the volleyball stadium during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Li has also been in charge of some popular music selections played by the DJs during events involving the China team, including Calorie (卡路里) by the Chinese idol girl group Rocket Girls 101 and Immortal Sound Above Cloud Palace (云宫迅音), the opening theme of Journey to the West, a 1986 TV series that is still considered one of China’s most popular TV dramas. These song selections also were popular on Weibo.

Li Helin, image via Sina.

Li previously said he believed that using DJs to connect with the audiences and to enliven the atmosphere at the venues will become a bigger trend for big sports events in the future. As the standard of sports presentation and fan engagement rises, more new elements, such as spectacular lighting, drones, 3D projects, etc. will also be included: “Sports presentation serves the game, but also adds fresh elements to it.”

Meanwhile, many social media users praise the music crew: “This time, the DJs at the Olympics are really awesome and their song selection is on point.”  “If you don’t know what kind of work you want to do, becoming an Olympic DJ is a good choice,” one Weibo user writes, with others agreeing: “Seriously, if I cannot be an Olympic athlete, then I’ll strive to be an Olympic DJ.”

 

By Wendy Huang

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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