Digital Lifestyle

Unlike traditional media such as newspaper, magazine even television, new media brings much fun into Australian lives through digital devices. According to Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2014, vast majority of respondents own laptop, smart phone or tablet device, and 53% of them own all three. This kind of diversity is reshaping our way of entertainment. Watching TV is no longer the unrivalled dominance of Australian entertainment, social/personal internet use has increased 10% since 2012 at 63% and set to tip. Particularly, Generation Y are more likely to stream their favourite TV shows on electronic devices than live television. Digital lifestyle is really convenient for our daily life, making our schedule more flexible. It is noteworthy that digital lifestyle could be transformed into sedentary lifestyle by bingeing on entertainment activities. In this way, sedentary digital life may increase the possibility of obesity and diabetes and chip away of our creativity.


Source: Deloitte

Although new media is dynamic, the negative effects of it may mislead us as to judgment and lifestyle. I can speak from personal experience that social media is the easiest way to stunt, or kill, the creative process. Surfing social media sites, especially Tumblr. in this scenario, has a numbing effect on the mind that’s similar to mindlessly watching television. If you plan on being productive today shut off those apps! Not only do you spend less quality time with is people who are physically present in your life, but they will quickly get annoyed by you when you’re paying more attention to an electronic device than them. Eventually the people around you will even stop wanting to hang out with you. Posting vague statuses on Facebook to grab others attention could easily become a nasty habit for people who use social media frequently. The never-ending competition for likes and notifications can consume you. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on in social media that people will neglect their real life goals. Instead of aiming for the dream job by obtaining useful skills people, especially younger people, tend to strive for internet stardom. According to recent studies the more people used social media the more negative feelings they experience, including depression. This could particularly harmful to people who have been previously diagnosed with depression. If you beginning to notice you’re feeling down on a regular basis it’s probably time to take a break from your many social media. No good comes out of online displays of jealousy and snooping. It may seem like an easy option when it comes to dealing with relationships, but in reality it does more damage than good. In fact, studies show that the more a person uses Facebook the more likely they will be to monitor their partner, which leads to arguments and crumbling relationships.

People feel too comfortable on the web and say things they wouldn’t normally say in real life. If you’re not the one say horrible things, you’re still inevitably going to be exposed to it. And if you are one of the people talking trash? Cut it out! You’re not as anonymous as you think. With the rampant cyber bullying on the web, people are also becoming more rude off the web as well. The digital persona people display on Facebook is often much different that what actually goes on in their lives. After awhile you may feel like you know your online acquaintances better than you do, creating a social gap. Try to remember that everyone is just as human as you are. The light emitted from your various electronic screens tricks your mind into thinking it’s not time for you to sleep. Getting enough sleep each night is already difficult enough without extra complications. Perhaps it’s best if your phone doesn’t stay with you though the night. Between social media websites saving (and selling) your personal data and the whole NSA mess involving unsolicited government access of personal data including email, Skype calls, and so much more it’s very clear that privacy and the internet don’t mix at this point in time. If you post every last thought that pops into your head it could just as easily come back to haunt you in the future. Technology is a useful tool, but we need to know how to use it properly, otherwise it can easily become damaging in our lives.


The Diverse Memes

gina03Source: Google Images Gina Rinehart

tonyabbottSource: Google Images Tony Abbott

Look at these two pictures above, one depicts as one of the richest woman in Australia, Gina Rinehart, an Australian mining heiress and a succesful business woman. People found out Jabba looks like her in that same posture. The other picture points to one of the most powerful man in Australia, Tony Abbott, the present Prime Minister of Australia. Somehow the Hobbit fans thought Tony and the “my precious” Gollum separated at birth. Their edited pictures are entertaining but not so appealing, somehow I feel disturbing, because you can see those pictures are full of dodginess and ugliness. Everytime when I see these kind of pictures, I’m trying to bring out the motivations behind the sense to tease the rich and the power and crack people up. In my point of view, they are the reflection of the internet eco system and public opinions. They are the memes.

What’s a meme?

It’s a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.

Who made this up?

Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in his works The Selfish Gene. According to Dawkins (1976), examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, and ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.

In digital age, memes are much more dynamic, they are embedded in the social media platform, so they can be seen as Twitter memes, Facebook memes or YouTube memes. For example, the drug girl Becky’s photo went wild on Twitter because she looks like hits killer Taylor Swift indisputably.

Source: Google Images Becky Taylor Swift

The Harlem Shake has over 100 copycats across the global on YouTube. And people can rate their favourite version after watching, on matter people living in the poor African country like Uganda or the rich European country like Netherland, they are all equal to appear online and share the spirit of entertainment.

China has different diversity of memes. Unlike countries with freedom of expression, China is a very restricted in its political sphere and it has yet to adopt democracy. Intense censorship mainly exist in publication and internet domain, therefore this offers opportunities for the birth of unique Chinese memes which is more political-oriented. Below, let’s take a look at some popular memes on Chinese internet, many political in tone is the key factor.

Free CGC

When Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest in 2010, this meme — a send-up of a KFC ad — began spreading across the Chinese internet. Why? Because while his name, and even his initials, were blocked by the government, the image got through the country’s censors. The spreading of the meme has been called ‘guerrilla activism’ (via Christian Science Monitor).

Grass Mud Horse

12beast01-650Songs about a mythical alpaca-like creature have taken hold online in China

These alpacas aka Grass Mud Horse might look cute and fuzzy, but they are an example of a highly political meme in China. Grass mud horse, or Cao Ni Ma, first appeared in January 2009 as a symbol of anti-censorship sentiment in this video. Earlier this month, the alpaca symbol was seen on many signs in a protest in Hong Kong as Chinese President Hu Jintao celebrated the 15th anniversary of the city’s handover to China. On the internet, July 1 was officially dubbed “Grass Mud Horse Day,” as high numbers of people posted alpaca images (via NY Times).

Sunflower Seeds

Similarly, the sunflower seed has become an online symbol for artist Ai Weiwei, whose name and likeness where quickly scrubbed from the Chinese internet when he was detained in 2011. (Watch the talk Ai Weiwei made for TED2011, just weeks before he was put under arrest in China and his studio destroyed.) As supporters realized that Weiwei’s nicknames, and even puns related to him, were also being blocked, they channeled his famous sunflower fields’ installation at the Tate Modern as a form of protest (via Fast Company).

To be frank, I don’t usually get all of those memes somehow, and I reckon some are even boring and cheap. However, the memes is crucial and integral as part of internet culture. Netizens can be the creator of a meme and makes jokes of whoever they want to. To some degrees, the memes is a symbolic way of the free speech, because they are created to remind the public of the actions done by CGC and others. In this way, such icons and images can help the voiceless, especially those who are fighting for internet freedom in this world.

Q&A: South China Sea Dispute

Recently, there is a debate raised up on Facebook between young Chinese and Filipino about South China sea dispute. It is not the first time young adults from different countries abusing each other verbally with hatred. I really don’t understand why do people so obsessed with political row, so I decided to make a Q&A to the South China Sea dispute to make it clear what was going on.

Q1: Why did Philippines decide to take China to the court of arbitration?

In January 2012, China imposed fishing permits in the South China Sea. These permits were imposed in waters that are inside The Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined in Article 55 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which we have both signed and ratified, so China’s actions in this regard are unlawful. Philippines was obviously displeased with this action, but when the Chinese Coast Guard then expelled two of our ships from within our own Exclusive Economic Zone, we could no longer accept this. At this point Philippines decided to pursue arbitration under article 287 of the Law of the Sea convention, as the most appropriate means of peacefully resolving the dispute.

Q2: What’s China’s response to Philippines’ decision by seeking international arbitration to settle a dispute in the South China Sea (SCS)?

Beginning from the 1970s, the Philippines illegally occupied islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands. The Philippines’ illegal occupation of these Chinese islands and reefs is the root cause of the South China Sea dispute between the two countries.

As early as in 2006, China submitted a written statement to the United Nations Secretariat, clearly declaring that, on issues of territorial sovereignty, marine demarcation, and military activities, China refuses to accept any jurisdiction of international justice or arbitration as stipulated by section 2 of part XV of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The arbitration raised by the Philippines is in essence dispute concerning the sovereignty over the islands and reefs and demarcation over certain waters in the South China Sea.

In addition, The Philippines had made obvious mistakes in the application of dispute settlement processes of the general international law and the UNCLOS. First, sovereignty of islands is not related to interpretation of application of the UNCLOS. State parties should not submit arbitrations in the procedure of the UNCLOS. Second, Article 298 of the UNCLOS gives the state parties right to rule out a dispute of the maritime demarcation from the judicial process under the UNCLOS. Based on the rules above

Q3: China has asserted the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case because it is a matter of who has sovereignty over the islands. Is this not a valid argument against proceedings?   

Even in the event of there being an argument questioning the tribunal has jurisdiction, article 288(4) of UNCLOS provides that, if there is a dispute as to whether a tribunal has jurisdiction, the matter is to be settled by that tribunal. China made a declaration on 25 August 2006 pursuant to Article 298 indicating that it does not accept any international judicial or arbitral jurisdiction provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of UNCLOS with respect to disputes referred to in Article 298, paragraph 1(a), (b), and (c) of UNCLOS (e.g., those related to maritime boundary delimitation, territorial disputes, or military activities). However, the tribunal noted the Philippines is seeking not a determination of which party has sovereignty over the islands claimed by both of them or to delimit any maritime boundaries between them in the South China Sea, but to declare that China’s maritime claims based on the dotted line violate the Philippines’ entitlements to the maritime spaces, or that China has illegally interfered with the Philippines’ right of navigation in the South China Sea. Article 297(1)(a) and (b) of UNCLOS provides that disputes concerning rights of navigation or domestic laws or regulations compatible with UNCLOS “shall be subject to the procedures provided for in section 2.” Thus, China’s Article 298 Declaration will not result in the invalidity of the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

To sum up, the Philippines decided to pursue arbitration under article 287 of UNCLOS to try to resolve the dispute between the two parties. While China responded that article 298 of UNCLOS gave states right to rule out a dispute of the maritime demarcation from the judicial process. In 2006, China indicated that they do not accept any international judicial or arbitral jurisdiction that is noted in Section 2 of Part 15 of UNCLOS, this section covers maritime boundary delimitation, territorial disputes or military activities. Both arguments are sound, but political disputes always connect to the national interest, which means they won’t compromise. If you care about your country that’s good, but if it’s necessary to abuse each other online when people have yet to understand the truth and the solution?

More readings:

New ‘Challenge’, New Charity

Recently, the hottest activity on the global social media platform is known as Ice Bucket Challenge. The famous and not-so-famous alike across the globe all join in the fun.

The activity has an origin: in 4th July 2014, a cancer society in New Zealand started the Ice Bucket Challenge; it is by pouring ice-cold water on participant’s own head that underlines showing care and support towards cancer patients and their respective families. On 15th July, America professional golf player, Chris Kennedy decided to take up the challenge, and subsequently nominated his cousin for joining in the game; reason being his cousin’s husband has already suffered from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for about 11 years. As so, the rules of the game has changed: either dunk a bucket of ice water on the head, or to donate to ALS Association.


Later on, the game spread from the United States to all parts of the world, well-known characters from the politics, technology, sports, and the media arena, all join in. They choose to either challenge themselves by dunking under ice water, or to show love by donating towards the charity societies. These actions sparkled an unseen wide scale of charity donations on the social media platform such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Netizens, from the rich to the common, are all entertained by their own participation.

How can the Ice Bucket Challenge have such rapid widespread rate, and being so attractive?

Firstly, I think since the first initiator request the nominee to complete the challenge within 24 hours, it is kind of like a relay race pushing you to keep it up and making you excited. Therefore, there is a guarantee of the Ice Bucket Challenge in the wild spread across internet. A more important motivation came from the mass participation of the well-respected like Bill Gates. Due to the massive number of participation, in additional to the celebrity-effect, and the economy resulted from the fans phenomenon, have attracted an even wider crowd of people, and hence the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media.


Secondly, the Ice Bucket Challenge combines both the entertainment and the charity, and given the participants the freedom of choice. You can either treat this activity as a game, or as a charity; or as both. From the view of a great cause, it is charitable to donate directly to recipients. The same definitely goes for raising the awareness of the public and spreading the idea of caring the groups of ALS. Moreover, the Ice Bucket Challenge provides a platform for both: it dissolves the sacredness and the solemnity we feel when comes to do something for charity, provides an ingenious combination to strengthen its outreach. For example, Matt Damon used toilet water to dunk himself for responding Ice Bucket Challenge, promoting saving water for at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone.


This is exactly what the charity in China lacks, the revert of such values. Recently Chinese media reports the compulsory donation from the civil servants in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, with a minimum of 2000 Yuan (≈376 AUD). If any Chinese celebrity contributes a less desired amount towards a disaster relief, public questioning will be raised from the public and netizens. I reckon it is kind of pathological mindset. The thing is whoever you are, the poor or the rich, there is freedom of choice for everyone, in this regard, China needs a sense of entertainment and humour.

In digital era, most of us are connected to social networks. In the case of Ice Bucket Challenge, whether a nominee accepts the challenge or to donate to charity organisation (regardless the amount), no moral kidnapping will be seen. With entertainment as the foundation, Ice Bucket Challenge revert charity to its origin state: lively, free, not compulsory, and not attention-seeking. It is encouraging but not enforcing, and that is how charity activity should be.

Ice Bucket Challenge tells us we all can influence others through our own actions, whether we are the famous or the common. It uses innovation and entertainment to enhance the spreading efficiency and scope of positive energy, and actually brings up an unexpected result; such became the medium and bridge for imparting positive energy.

More readings:

Extra! Extra! More Fake News

The booming new media marks the start of a new era and keeps expanding rapidly. Can you imagine what is it like in the future? Is it a utopia or dystopia? Before thinking about deeper questions, I want to put out of my head for a minute the crush I had relating to new media and review what has happened recently.

malaysia-prince-460x307Source: World News Daily Report

On 24th July, the headline of World News Daily Report, ‘Malaysia: Crown Prince Converts to Catholicism, Shocks Muslim World‘, was shared by many on Facebook. It reported ‘the only son and heir of Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Tengku Amir Shah, has sent a shockwave throughout the Muslim community worldwide as what People’s magazine has deemed ‘the real life Romeo and Juliet story of our time’. It then added ‘The Malaysian prince known for his outlandish sex orgies and drug addiction problems, having been through rehab no less than three times in the past 18 months, has promised to change his ways and claims to be a new man’. This news has been a hit of Malaysian online forums and some local sites by the following hours. Personally, it’s a hideous news of Malaysia I’ve ever heard, because religious issue is a very sensitive in Malaysia where Islam is the official religion and the majority Malays are all Muslims. Subsequently, I even posted this on my WhatsApp’s group,friends followed up like ‘Beyond shocking’, ‘God at work in Malaysia, thanks for sharing’, etc. But the next day, The Malaysian Insider clarified this is a fake news, and claimed that World News Daily Report is a political satire web publication and fiction producer. I apologised in the group for sowing fake news as a journalism student. From then on, I raised up my skepticism of online sources.

islam-omar-al-shishaniSource: IBT

On 11th August, 3AW 693 drive show conducted a shocking interview. The interviewee was alleged to be Omar al-Shishani, a military commander of ISIS, claiming “If we can swim there, if we can catch any of your boats … we will come to Australia”. However, the scoop became a spoof eventually. IS expert from United States, Aaron Zelin told The Australian  “My initial reaction would be scepticism that it’s actually him”. Monash University terrorism scholar, Greg Barton analysed “On the balance of probabilities, it’s unlikely that Shishani would choose to do an interview with 3AW. Maybe CNN or the BBC would be worth his trouble in getting his message out”. The International Business Times reports there is previously no evidence of Omar al-Shishani speaking fluent English. A week later, the ABC Media Watch revealed this interview is bogus.

These two fake news have a common factor that is the initial sources are both from the internet. When media practitioners are becoming more relying on the convergent social media platform to grab information to conduct news for the audience, less fact-checking can happen, or sometime there are some sources online even veteran journalists cannot tell the authenticity. In this way, more and more fake news coming out of newsroom and be published. Maybe I would say that’s the flaws of social media in terms of providing raw material to the media industry. However, not all the news professional misconduct can blame on the social media.

paulinehanson-420x0Source: The Sunday Telegraph

There was an ethical controversy in Australia goes back in 2009. The nude photos of famous Australian politician Pauline Hanson published by The Sunday Telegraph. However, it ended up in the editor Neil Breen public apology as it has proven that the pictures they published were fake and they were not of Pauline Hanson, but belonged to other Russian woman. It’s a fake news, again. As a matter of fact, editor Breen has suspected Jack Johnson who took the photos beforehand, because he’s already known that story has got loopholes in it. But Breen gave a run anyway for some reasons. The newspaper paid Johnson $15,000 for the images and the story made international headlines that week. I’m sure The Sunday Telegraph have made $15,000 back eventually, but the credibility that lost in the scandal shall not be recovered on a short-term.

The social media as one of the greatest innovations in this age impacts on almost every aspect of human life. It is a good opportunity for media industry to interact with and improve its efficiency and productiveness. At the same time, it’s a challenge for media practitioners to engage with, because it means journalists may lose the role of gate-keeping and need more fact-checking on first hand source. There is a constant debate between journalists that how social networking is changing journalism. The fact is, to a short-term, social media is underestimated by media industry according to a media conference. If media industry wants to thrive in social media context, the key thing to do is focusing on transparency, accountability and autonomy.