微信有“罪”吗? – Is WeChat “guilty”? – English

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风青杨: 著名企业品牌运营战略专家。现任汇赢天下品牌策划机构CEO。《中国经营报》《经济观察报》《销售与市场》《国际公关》等一线媒体一线撰稿人。

Recently, the press reported that some users of WeChat are taking advantage of it to deceive others. The report says that people are using the “shake” and “look around” functions to commit crimes, such as fraud, theft and rape. Therefore, once again, the police emphasized that “you shouldn’t trust strangers”, as they always do. Some internet users even began to appeal to Tencent, asking them to abolish these function of WeChat. A similar controversy arose when QQ started becoming popular. So how can we make decisions when facing technology advances?

Are we saying that, because one person was cheated, we should all stop using WeChat? According to this kind of logic, should we stop using China Mobile and China Unicom as well? If someone is cheated through online shopping, should we close Taobao and Jiangdong? At the first internet advertising fraud, should we turn off Baidu? According to this logic, nearly all of the listed internet based companies in China need to be drawn off the market. Chinese people would return to the level of technology we had 20 years ago. And if we pushed this logic to the extreme, shouldn’t we say that people can die from all sorts of accidents, that they can even choke while eating. And even if we did all this, could we guarantee that no one will ever be fooled?

We cannot admit that it is normal to have a society full of liars. But we must think of the root cause of the problem. There are two methods to reduce fraud and crime. The first is to heighten people’s moral standards, so that people will not want to commit a crime; the second is to improve the efficiency and fairness of the legal system, so that people won’t dare to violate the law. Those are the root causes of the problem, yet there’s always someone to attribute moral decline and legal malpractice to technology advance – or simply say that you shouldn’t trust strangers.

It seems as if this society wants to treat the symptoms of the disease without asking for the root cause. If a tall building catches fire, people will talk about fire protection nation wide; if a road collapses, people will check bridge conditions everywhere; if an epidemic breaks out, people will talk about hygiene; if students get hurt, schools will increase security measures; if there is a severe road accident, people will check the traffic; after the incident in a Shanxi mine, people did check mine security nation wide; Beijing investigated into its entertainment industry; and other provinces closed their karaoke bars. Have they cured the diseases? Will you never get fooled if you never trust any stranger?

Every time someone is deceived, the police always keep saying the same words: “you shouldn’t trust strangers”. This line has the new motto of our era. In chaotic train station, the loudspeakers shout out notices reminding people not to trust strangers to help you buy your ticket, and beware of being cheated by strangers. When you sit in a bright teahouse having a cup of tea, the sign on the wall says: Do not lend  your mobile phone to strangers, beware of being cheated. Once, one of my friends came to Wuhan for the first time. He got off the train and walked out Hankou station, then onto Fazhan avenue, and he wanted to ask someone how to get to Qiuchang street, but none of four peoples whom he sought help from wanted to talk to him. They all pointed at a sign without saying any word. The sign said: Do not answer a stranger’s question, beware of being cheated.

Obviously, if you believe in strict self-interest, no stranger is worth trusting; however, what will our society become if we never trust a stranger? When we get lost, we need to get information from others; when we are thirsty and cannot find anything to drink, we may choose to knock on a stranger’s door to quench our thirst. Strangers have built our houses, strangers are educating our children, strangers are investing our money, strangers are telling us what happened around the world … to be extreme, we cannot escape from the network of stangers. Everyone of us will need someone else’s help when we encounter difficulties. And at moments like that, will we still repeat on the motto “You shouldn’t trust a stranger”?

Trust is the wealth of a country and society. If people no longer trust each other, each will undoubtedly become isolated. When it comes to relationships, the more you dedicate to others the more you will be rewarded. Therefore, what national civic education could do is help each of us create this wealth, and let none of us run out of credit. Government departments should purify the social atmosphere and eliminate potential security risks, but also teach everyone how to communicate with strangers, rather than just ask us not to trust strangers. A government which always encourages citizens not to trust any stranger is a government in dereliction.

Wechat is just a tool for communication, neither good nor bad, just like Weibo and QQ. Moreover, the convenience that those tools have brought far outweighs the harm that came with them. Scientific and technological progress has always been a double-edged sword. If everyone of us has a right measure of self-esteem, we won’t see so many tragedies caused by fraud and rape: we will make good use of that technology, ensuring it benefits us. In conclusion, we cannot blame WeChat.

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org