Netizens in the People's Republic are becoming increasingly cynical about the country's constantly-censored microblogging platform.
Sina Weibo, China's most active and influential micro-blogging platform, has long been heralded as a revolution in the way Chinese interact with the state and with each other. But on the eve of a power transition taking place behind closed doors, many online are beginning to question what permanent change Chinese social media has truly wrought.
To be fair, there is no shortage of discrete examples of Weibo's power. Some of the most significant events of President Hu Jintao's second five-year tenure trace their genesis not to the Communist Party, but to the microblogging platform. It has been instrumental in revealing abuses of power and breaking scandals which would have otherwise been hushed up or airbrushed in China's mainstream media. Weibo has also had an undeniable impact on decisions taken at the local level; just this year, governments in the cities of Shifang, Ningbo and Qidong all backed off from development plans after environmental protests broke out among smartphone-brandishing citizens.
While Weibo can on occasion help incite real change, even on the streets, the sheer number of injustices that flash almost daily across Chinese Web users' respective feeds means that citizens, armed with social media alone, simply do not have the power to combat even a small portion of them. As a result, some measure of ennui and resignation has begun to set in. In late October, online personality Zuoye Ben (@作业本), a pseudonymous Weibo user known for original and often critical views, gave voice to a growing feeling of fatigue among social media users. In a post commemorating three years of using the Weibo service, Zuoye Ben concluded that "Weibo has not changed China, it has just changed you and me: I have gradually got used to being cold and indifferent, just like you have slowly got tired of Weibo." These words have been re-posted over [30,000] times and have garnered over [10,000] comments.