2020 is arguably a polarising year. The year ignited fires where amber skies dominated and was dubbed “One of the Worst Fires Season Ever”. President Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, which sparked many WW3 memes. However, the biggest hurdle was an invisible virus from Wuhan, China which, threw the world into a frenzy. Unbeknownst to the world, the virus travelled from China and made it’s way throughout the major capital cites in Asia and eventually multiplied rapidly across world. World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a “pandemic.” A new era was born. Practices from pre-COVID times are no longer.
Professor Frank M. Snowden, a Yale medical historian whose life’s work is to study how epidemics/ pandemics shapes social evolution. The medical historian ensembled and document how past plagues and pandemic such as the bubonic plague and smallpox to modern plagues such as SARS and Ebola, and deduce three major social consequences- mass hysteria, scapegoating and violence.
In the age of social media, identity is performance. A performance where you showcase the shiny parts of you. Kumbaya. Life is a utopia.
How do you know it a utopia?
The social media ecosystem. Instagram uses simple affordances such as “Likes” and “Comments” to increase the engagement of post or profile picture as signifies approval from others. The algorithm determines the ranking of the object in question and depending on its mood it would accelerate or decelerate on the Instagram totem pole.
Although it is part of the social media equation, there is a participation aspect to it. The user feels like they need to present themselves in a certain way to gain social capital and engagement.
It is no surprise that 2020 is a year of awakening. The 2019 Bush fires set ablaze Australia. Last week in amidst of a pandemic, America is ablaze with rage over another murder of a black man in the hands of yet another policeman.
A message popped up the group chat with a video of a police man kneeling his knee on the neck of an African-American man
‘I can’t breathe’ “Mama” “Mama” “Please stop”, he pleaded, while he gasped for air.
Bystanders on the side pleading the officer to get off him.
“His nose is bleeding.” “Please get off him.”
Until one bystander pointed out, ‘You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
After a few minutes, the arrested stopped breathing. Pleas escalated into desperate cries.
“Check his pulse.”
A few minutes later, the ambulance arrived, and a man’s lifeless body carried onto a stretcher. The video cuts there.
The deceased black man was George Floyd, and he is the catalyst of the ongoing protests and riot in all major American cities and around the world at this very moment. His killer is Derek Chauvin. There was three other police officer, including Asian- American did not intervene or stop Derek.
It’s been eight years since I went back to Shanghai. It was as if time stopped and rewind itself back to 2010.
To the West, China is the semi-Orwellian superstate that has a knack for intense control over information. It presumed (by the West) that China’s tantalising soft influence will inevitably push their “tyrannical” agenda onto Australian politicians and brainwash them into puppets of their unworldly agenda. An impending superpower- in-training who is destined to surpass the US one day and strikes fear into the West. The list of idiosyncratic allegations goes on. Despite the West’s exaggerated portrayal of China in the media, it was the homeland of my birth givers, by default my home too.
Several events followed since my last visit in 2010; I’ve graduated from high school, got accepted into my dream course, Journalism at University of Canberra, got my first taste of emancipation and lived independently for a year, decided transfer back to Sydney, covered multiple events for Star Central Magazine, worked for the United Nations as an media assistant, became a “weeaboo” when I worked as the Public Relations and Community assistant at SMASH!, had multiple different part-time jobs to support my way through University–all them were short-lived, went to Mongolia for a Journalism placement and finally, I graduated with BMedia from UNSW.