Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pics or it didn't happen

I usually see the aforementioned comment on websites when some user claims something like the fact that two people are dating or when somebody took drugs or something. This time though, I am so amused by this story from Yahoo! which went viral.

A bystander noticed that the new U.S. Ambassador to China (who is Chinese-American by the way) was wearing a backpack and ordered his own coffee at a Seattle Airport Starbucks. We might think that this is so mundane but apparently, there is so much more to the story. It represented a Chinese-American who is so unlike the ordinary Chinese official, that ordinary Chinese people are now celebrating that there is someone who could be so extraordinary! The usual picture would be some personal assistant buying a coffee for his or her boss and that boss wouldn't even be carrying his own bags. This sounds so familiar as this could easily be a Philippine official. In this picture, it showed that a high ranking official could be frugal and could actually be not all high and mighty and proud. I understand that this is only one photo and it could not represent what the man is all about but at least he sparked a debate online.

It is still such a wonder how one photo can spark a thousand conversations or a web story or twitter trend. Way back when, it would take such a long time for something like this to circulate and even then, stories like this could get buried and then never see the light of day. Now, we've got Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook to instantly share an image whether it be mundane or not.

I remember the photo Kevin Carter took of a starving kid with a vulture at the background in Sudan. That photo sparked the interest of the whole world on the situation in the African continent. People became aware of the apartheid and that people were starving while the rest of the world couldn't really do much of anything. The world really is a click away and this is one of the uses of social media that I could get behind.

Entry 9

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