Saturday, August 08, 2015

Cultural Differences at Rock Shows

In the past two weeks, Christian and I saw one of my all-time favorite bands, OK Go, in Hong Kong and Shanghai.  Seeing them twice in a week made me think about why I sometimes go see bands multiple times on one tour -- even if the setlist is the same, each show is unique because of the crowd.  With this in mind, I thought about the fact that I've been to shows in multiple countries -- the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and now this year, South Korea, Hong Kong, and mainland China (I count HK as being separate from the mainland).  So having seen OK Go in four completely different places (the US, Germany, HK, and China), here's a comparison of seeing shows in those places.

OK Go in Shanghai

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Life Behind the Great Firewall

Before coming to China, I knew about the Great Firewall, which is the Chinese government's attempt at regulating the internet.  In case you've never heard of it, it's basically a form of censorship where certain websites are inaccessible within China, including most of popular western social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, Blogger, etc.), anything from Google (including Gmail), western news outlets (like the New York Times, BBC, Washington Post, etc.).

I've come to realize that basically all of the media I consume is blocked in China.  The only way I can access it is using a VPN, and even then, it still lags.  The Great Firewall brings everything down to a crawl, and if I want to upload one picture to Instagram, it could take me a good 10 minutes to do so with the VPN.  Sometimes going on the NY Times is impossible.  Quite often, the slow internet is so frustrating that I just don't go online and will just watch whatever's on TV instead (I've become a fan of Masterchef).

Basically, whenever you want to access a site that's blocked without a VPN, you get this: