Coming live from your bedroom

trying to understand how parts of China are handling the pandemic

As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold I’ve become really interested in how folks are handling it. Especially the part where the has been city-wide quarantines and the like. How are folks handling being largely confined to their living space? How are they getting everyday supplies like food? How are they seeing themselves reflected from the outside?

This all started with an old classmate that I follow on Instagram. They were lamenting invitations they were receiving from friends and neighbors that were essential “I’ll see you after the virus”. This was kind of early on when the full impact of what was happening I think hadn’t hit yet. Once the spread of the virus had become large there was a change. My classmate had started a lottery betting on which of the eggs that they had would hatch first. A sort of game to play that didn’t require you leaving the house. Anger then set in after seeing folks from the outside of China make light of people who either couldn’t afford or couldn’t get access to face masks and were improvising with other materials.

I then started reading about how folks who normally perform were handling the situation. There’s an article on radiichina of musicians and labels live streaming shows from their houses to folks. Helen Rosner wrote an article for the New Yorker about cooking during the lockdown with a couple who runs a cooking channel on YouTube.

The most interesting thing, however, was finding out about BiliBili and bullet comments. A lot of the live streams are happening on one of China’s biggest live-streaming network BiliBili. Christina Xu wrote about the commenting system for logic mag. Something that started in Japan but became its own unique cultural beast in China. While reading about it is fine I think you really need to experience as well. I watched a bunch of episodes from the cooking channel. They’re all about 7 or so minutes long just enough to be engaging without getting too involved especially since I don’t know the language. Even without being able to follow along from a language perspective there was a familiar tone to the hosts talking if you’ve watched a cooking show you understand what they are saying at a certain level. The thing that gets interesting is how the comments ebb and flow across the screen as each episode plays out. You can feel what gets the audience hyped and what doesn’t. Certain characters show up at certain times which again, I have no idea what they mean but I can guess a little about what they may be referring to. Getting to see this view of a nation has been fascinating I know we all wish it was under better circumstances.