WeChat:“Grouping” Revolution and Contemporary Existence
作者 : 未知

  Abstract:Man is a kind of animal with group social behavior. From the very beginning when society evolved,  people lived together in groups with different means of livelihood. In addition, throughout the history of human beings, group behavior has been related to their means of livelihood. Different kinds of livelihood, for example, hunting, pastoralism, and farming, have their own particular social groups. Moreover, farming in different regions also creates different kinds of social groups, and so do industrial societies. In today s post industrial society, social groups or social “groupings”  based on the Internet are emerging quietly, for example through  QQ and WeChat. The emergence of such kind of grouping seems to reveal the appearance of a new kind of livelihood,  and various groups have been organized within it. The QQ or WeChat group seems to represent a kind of instant “grouping” that is revolutionary, and it directly affects all aspects of people s modern existence.
  The existence of the group is something basic that influences human beings. Collectivism is a form of “group”, and is generally regarded as a form of group development.  There is a lot of related research that takes the concept of the group as a kind of culture. However, this research focused mainly on “group culture” within Confucian culture. No matter whether it was the concept of the group , collectivism, or a “reasonable concept of group” in Confucianism, it actually reflects the existence of a set of values ― that is, the “group” could be linked with a people s culture and world view.
  The group behavior found within WeChat is based on the concept of network. A network  is a kind of computer technology, and its main function is information communication. However, this technology has created a “virtual existence”. Moreover, it has basically moved one s original social structure into network technology, and constructed a kind of network community known by those people who participate. This network community has also formed an indispensable social space for people s existence. The WeChat group is built on this basis. It manifests itself as a revolutionary “grouping”, and, in the end, affects our modern existence.
  Research on network communities is also a focus of current sociology. Nowadays, people divide network groups  into many types. From the perspective of information exchange, online communities can be divided into three categories:1)An online community characterized by knowledge sharing;2)An online community characterized by business information exchange; and 3)An online community characterized by emotional communication. In addition, according to different communication topics, online communities can be divided into the following four categories: their demographic traits, professional, personal interests and fantasy (games). As for the nature of such virtual communities, some of its characteristics can be summarized as follows: it combines  virtual and real, and  non space time, it has a dynamic openness, and there is a looseness of interpersonal relationships. The combination of “virtual and real” mainly refers to the fact that such groups can be either virtual or real, i.e. using real or false names. The characteristic of “non space time” means it cannot be used to describe a specific time and space. The trait of “dynamic openness” indicates that such groups are constantly changing and have no specific binding force. Finally, the concept of “looseness of interpersonal relationships” indicates that the relationships within the group are free and loose.   Such ways of forming groups is completely different from the traditional way of grouping. The formation of groups, their aggregation function, and their influence on society still do exist, however, the basic, conventional forms of traditional groups have been completely superseded. The group behavior found in QQ and WeChat, which relies  on scientific and technological means, might be considered as a kind of “grouping revolution” in modern society. Just through a WeChat group formed through a smart phone, the “grouping” function that could not be achieved through traditional groups in a residential area could be partially satisfied here.
  In such WeChat groups, the basic functions of the groups are: 1)exchange of information; 2)dissemination of professional knowledge; and 3)expression of opinions or comments. However, the expression and communication of individual emotions are the No.1 forbidden area of a WeChat group. So as long as it is not a specific WeChat group, all group members are strangers.
  WeChat groups in the modern industrial society, as in all kinds of centers or institutes in the city, present different functions of former group behavior, but in a fragmented way, and they disperse the former groups into various groups again. On the one hand, this kind of grouping makes up for the deficiency in our community settlement patterns, and could be regarded as a kind of “grouping revolution”. However, these groups further strengthen the degree of social defamiliarization. In public settings, more than 90 percent of people can be found looking down at their mobile phones, and many of them are involved in their WeChat groups.It is like that they are living somewhere else.
  When we understand WeChat groups from the perspective of “grouping”, we can see that they share many similar properties with the concept of “virtual community” proposed earlier, for instance, its integration of the “virtual and the real”, its incorporation of “non space time”, its dynamic openness, looseness of interpersonal relationships and other such characteristics. The WeChat group is defined as “a group of people who communicate with each other mainly through computer networks, who have a certain degree of mutual understanding, share a certain degree of knowledge and information, and care for each other to a large extent as if they were friends”. The conceptual definition of this “virtual community” is not consistent with the ethnographic reality of the WeChat group. The WeChat group is just a way of grouping, which is not possible to be so idealized.   In a society which is changing constantly, people s traditional way of “grouping” has become something of the past; the people who live in groups are “distributed” to the community by the society, and many functions of the traditional groups are fragmented into various centers, stations or institutes within the city. In terms of the manner of grouping,  the WeChat groups provide a revolutionary way of “grouping”, which has both advantages and disadvantages. However, WeChat groups have precipitated a revolution for the formation of social groups in modern society, and provide a possibility for revolution and development for our group living society.
  Key Words:WeChat; grouping; network society; contemporary existence
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