Thursday 29 July 2010

How China Shot Me Out Of The Blogosphere –

Or for a more dramatic, horror movie-esque title: THE BLOCKS!

Well, hopefully, you should know by now (because it has been in the news) that China has some nationwide blocks on the internet. One of the more well known examples is the Tiananmen Square filter.

If you go to (or and type in Tiananmen Square, the picture that should come up is the one of the guy in front of the tank (or three):

It was taken during some of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and became a symbol of one man finally thinking enough is enough and standing up to the national regime that he obviously had a problem with.

It looks like he was on his way home from shopping, his small grocery bag clutched tightly in his fist, maybe for his dinner. Or his parents'. Or his and his wife's.

That picture, to me, literally speaks a thousand words – the words of one man’s story that, where we, the world, were allowed to catch maybe a paragraph.
Maybe even the page before the end.
We will never know.

However, when you search 'Tiananmen Square' on Google China ( you got….nada. Well, not nada. But you didn’t get the same electric image that many people in the West thought of when the words ‘Tiananmen Square’ are mentioned.

So that’s what I knew before I went there. After I got there, I also discovered that

- Facebook

- Youtube

- Megavideo

- (google affiliated!)

Were all blocked too. In essence, my social life was now extinct. Which was highly unfortunate for me, since 1) This blog is on and 2) Almost all of my favourite blogs are on too. What I found highly ironic was that wordpress was allowed, which had been one of my blog options but I freaked out when I realised I’d have to pay $3 a year.

I know, I know, I’m a wuss. But I’m also a student! *mournful face*

And when they said no Youtube videos, they literally meant no Youtube videos, even if they were embedded in one of the blogs or websites that I could read. Trying to watch TV was a nightmare, because Megavideo is usually the only player that works and it was blocked and for some reason, it would never let me see search results, so that was a dud as well.

I. Was. Gutted.

Like a fish.

After a while, I just gave up.

Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to access facebook in China, but not in certain areas apparently. And it wasn’t even like a big flaming message came up saying “ACCESS DENIED, BIZNOTCH!” It just came up with the message that usually comes up if my network connection is feeling dodgier than Gary Glitter at an orphanage.

So, driven by boredom, I started watching Chinese TV. And my goodness – it’s addictive! I had absolutely no idea what they were saying in the shows, but you can usually read between the lines to get the gist – I mean, an interrupted about-to-kiss moment is the same in any language. And now that I’m back, I really miss it. I couldn’t watch TV at my house because most of the music channels have a lot of half nudity. I know it sounds really tame, but this was like reverse culture shock. Especially since the second video I saw was Katy Perry’s California Girls.

Squirty whipped cream, Katy? Really? Really?

Yeah. So. No T.V for me for a while*

*Using the internet to look for my TV shows online doesn’t count, the important difference being that I can control what I want to see. Apart from pop-ups, of course.

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