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Rachel Lu

A Poignant Love Letter to Weibo In Hard Times

For you and I are past our dancing days

Tea Leaf Nation previously reported that Chinese netizens love Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblog platform, with a capital L. So what do they want to say to their beloved Weibo on the day that the government ordered Sina and Tencent, operators of the two largest microblog platforms, to shut off their commenting feature–a feature that many Chinese netizens have come to love, with some tweets’ comment sections stretching into the thousands–for three whole days from March 31 to April 3?  

Weibo:

Are you OK today?

Today is the day when I posted the most tweets to Weibo, and the day when most of my tweets were deleted. I don’t understand why even some of my dumb or silly tweets were deleted … I don’t blame you though, because I know you are suffering too. I imagine that you and all of your staff are just sitting in the office watching helplessly, sighing…

But Sina, you need to understand that, when they [the government] made you shut off commenting, us ordinary netizens support you in every possible way even though you have deleted our tweets, prevented us from speaking up or even locked us up in dark rooms [account suspension]. I have cursed you, hated you, and for a time even wanted nothing to do with you. But see, when you are bullied and they forced you to turn off all comments on Weibo, everyone is trying to tweet comments in all kinds of ways [in support of you]. You are not just a website–sometimes you are a lamp, on some pitch black nights, blossoming into brightness.

After writing so much I still don’t know what I want to say to you, but I know, I mean you no ill will.

If one day, you cease to exist, then my life online will pretty much be over too. I don’t think I would want to go anywhere else.

When you were forced to start real name registration, we should have known that this day was coming. No one knows what will happen to you after these three days or what you will become in the future. Like when you woke up this morning to find out that they had punished you. You are probably reflecting on this too.

At this time, I’m sure you are also tasting the meaning of suppression. Yes, you have a voice but cannot be heard, you have things to say but can’t say it–it’s the loneliness of having your mouth muffled. We are like bodies sliding on ice, we get up to run over and over again, yet we trip and fall over and over again.

I don’t want to lecture you or to show off my wit or to urge and scold you to resist, because all the bad things that you are experiencing today you have made us experience in the past. But today, finally, we have experienced each other’s experiences. If we still have a future together, you have to be a little more understanding and I have to be a little less hot tempered.

Some people will certainly say that you deserve this and that I’m an emotional, pretentious idiot. That’s fine, you can’t make everyone happy and I can’t try to impress everybody.  You are just a website and I am just an ordinary person. You are not the cleanest and I am not the dirtiest. In the harsh and messy world of the Internet, on the uneven stage that is Weibo, you have your flashes of brilliance and I have mine. And it so happens that during your best days we have danced together.

These words are perhaps too pretentious, but what I want to say is, as an ordinary user of Weibo, who is easily lost in the sea of users, I have witnessed your growth over the past three years of our time together, and you have recorded my experiences.

Today is not the day that we say goodbye. After these three days you must make a full recovery. I will start over with you. You must be with me until the end.

I will be waiting…

Anonymous

March 31, 2012

Original Chinese Text (via @作业本)

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.