Planet China

We chat, but you can’t

Some think the origin of the idiom ‘Sent to Coventry’ dates back to the English Civil War of the 1640s when prisoners were sent to that city but cold-shouldered by resentful local inhabitants. Today the phrase indicates that an individual is no longer welcome and has become persona non grata.

In current day China the equivalent in pariahdom is to be removed from a group on WeChat, the Tencent social media app that a billion people rely on for communication.

This was the fate of Guo Lan, previously part of a 32-strong group of ex-classmates using WeChat, who was enraged to find that the group leader had blocked her access. The tiff began when Guo started posting photos of her daughter achieving academic merit on an almost daily basis.This irked many but the last straw for the group leader was when Guo uploaded a letter highlighting her daughter’s admission to Tsinghua University, arguably China’s most prestigious seat of learning (it is the alma mater of President Xi Jinping). The children of other parents, including the group leader’s, had fared less well in the college entrance stakes and viewed the bragging as rubbing their noses in it.

Most netizens seemed to think Guo deserved to be kicked out of the WeChat community for being “annoying and self-promoting”, although a few did criticise the attitude of the group leader as plain envious.


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