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Zhibo: The Sina-Zuckerberg Conundrum and Hypnopompic States

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Zhibo is a weekly column in which Beijing-based American Taylor Hartwell documents his journey down the rabbit hole of Chinese livestreaming app YingKe (Inke). If you know nothing about the livestreaming (直播; “zhibo”) phenomenon in China, start here.

Interesting Question of the Week 你对 Mark Elliot Zuckerberg 怎么看?(What do you think of Mark Elliot Zuckerberg)?

 

Ah, the Sina-Zuckerberg conundrum. In America, Mark’s image has taken a few hits — making Spiderman cry that one time, selling our data to shady political operatives, continually being unable to fake human emotions, etc. But here in China — the country where his service is literally banned, mind you — he seems to still be enjoying a fairly Jobsian tech-god kinda reputation.

This might have something to do with the way he keeps certain books in prominent positions in certain pictures or how he puts out videos of himself speaking Chinese — or perhaps how he went for a jog in the smog that one time.

On a completely unrelated note, there’s a fantastic Chinese expression for sucking up — 拍马屁 (pai ma pi) — literally to pat a horse’s ass. Apparently, this dates back to when the Yuan Dynasty (aka the Mongolians) ruled China and people would praise the horses of any officials they wanted to keep happy — presumably a good ol’ slap on the rump helped to get the point across. Naturally, breaking out this expression is my new favorite way to get kids to stop ratting out their classmates over some minor infraction in the hopes of currying favor.

Wait, “to curry favor” is about horses too? What did horses ever do to deserve this weird association?

Strangest Message of the Week I am in a oneiromantic hypnopompic state.

 

say what now?

It’s not often that Inke comments send me to the (English) dictionary, but this one did it. I think “oneiromantic” could either mean “one romantic” or neoromantic, i.e. kinda nostalgic for a more romantic (classical sense) time/style.

“Hypnopompic” apparently means the semi-conscious state before you wake up, which is a shame, because I was hoping it was the lesser-known evolution of Drowsee.

So… this person is saying he/she is in a nostalgic, semi-conscious state? Sadly, (as is so often the case) I got no follow-up or explanation for what was easily the most curious message of the week.

Weird Invitation of the Week Do u want to come to tv program for finding girl friend

 

Short Answer: No

Long Answer: As you might imagine, dating shows are pretty popular in a country where getting married to a reasonably suitable person as quickly as possible is still very much the societally demanded norm; and putting a token foreigner on said shows now and then is a great way to boost ratings and introduce a little bit of exotic spice, as it were, to the proceedings.

Honestly, I have no idea how popular actual time-slot-having television shows still are in a place where everyone is swiping through 15-second videos on their phones every hour of every day, but there must still be enough of an audience to let me know once a week that a suitable Chinese girlfriend is just a short television appearance away.

Zhibo: Where’s Your Chinese Girlfriend?

Unanswerable of the Week can you get weed in China?

Weed? You mean weeds, the ugly little plants that grow amongst the flowers? Why on earth would I desire such a thing? What an odd question. Moving on.

No, but seriously — whatever your personal opinion might be on the matter, don’t mess around with drugs in China. I don’t even smoke cigarettes (my poor delicate throat ‘n’ all), so this has never been an issue for me, but finding yourself on the wrong side of this law here can land you in serious trouble.

There’s super cheap paint-thinner-level liquor at every corner store — good enough for the mahjong players on the sidewalk, good enough for me.

Big Plans of the Week on my way to be a beefcake

 

Go get it, brah.

Worrisome Moment of the Week:

 

 Dear god, he’s learning.

More from Zhibo:

Zhibo: The Easy Life of the Laowai

Zhibo: Trade Wars and American Idiots

Zhibo: Death Threats and Pornography

Taylor Hartwell
Taylor has been living in China since 2014 on the basis that he's already sunk too much into studying Chinese and can't stop now. When not staring at himself on his phone, he can be found writing, teaching and consulting at various schools and companies in Beijing. His Zhibo column runs every Monday on Radii. He tweets @TaylorJHartwell

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