600 Million in the Wild Blue Yonder

By Pauline D.Loh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-12-03 07:33:19

600 Million in the Wild Blue Yonder

According to the latest statistics from Xinhua News Agency, there are 600 million Internet users in China, or four out of every 10 Chinese clicking away everyday on e-mails, social media or the Net.

It is certainly not the prerogative of the young and Internetsavvy.

Lots of retirees spend hours on the web surfing and re-posting information they have never seen or had access to before. China's workforce is stood down at 55 for females, and 60 for males, and that means a large portion of the country's aging population is still hale and hearty, footloose, fancy free, with lots of time to browse the worldwide web.

Our 77-year-old uncle, a former engineer retired at 60, sends out dozens of e-mails with interesting bits of information about the hitherto unknown private lives of past leaders, the latest warnings of what to eat, what not to eat, medical frauds, miraculous cures...

It got so that he habitually busted my e-mail and I have been forced to block him. I tell him I will read them all on my husband's e-mail account.

600 Million in the Wild Blue Yonder

Information overload can be a dangerous thing. You can never finish reading all the re-posts well-meaning friends and relatives send you. It cultivates a cynicism that causes you to delete most, unread. Even that is a huge task that may take up more time than you can spare.

The spouse simply ignores them, and on an average he has about 700 e-mails unread in his inbox, and more in his trash folders, including those from our uncle.

My work account is public knowledge since China Daily encourages accountability by putting our reporters' e-mail in with every report. That's nice most of the time when we get encouraging notes from readers who enjoy our stories or writing.

But it also means we get intimate e-mails from Nigerian/Kenyan/Vietnamese/Russian widows/children of former finance ministers/bank managers/gold mine owners who now find difficulty accessing the stolen funds and find themselves pleading for urgent help.


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