June 20, 2013 2:30 pm
Chinese social media went ballistic last weekend when beach-goers in Sanya, an island town in southern China, began posting photos of themselves holding a dolphin. The animal had apparently become stranded there. The dolphin later died, Tea Leaf Nation writes, reportedly from choking on water.
Dolphins breathe through their blow holes, not their mouths, so the dolphin’s blow hole may have been obstructed by too many eager hands. Then again, the dolphin did become stranded, indicating that there may have been a preexisting problem. In any event, the dolphin died.
Judgement from other Chinese social media users was swift and condemning, Tea Leaf Nation continues.
On China’s social media, Internet users were outraged by such appalling behavior. #Please Let Go of That Dolphin# (#请放开那只海豚#) was the top trending topic on Sina Weibo, China’s leading microblogging platform. Many unleashed harsh comments on the tourists, often with expletives. Du Zhifu (@杜芝富) tweeted, “This is truly heinous. Typical show-off in the Chinese style. But you are really showing off your ignorance, cruelty and stinky behavior.”
In this case, social media acted as a double-edged sword, both bringing deadly attention to the dolphin but also providing a platform for people to protest the behaviors that led to the dolphin’s death. That latter use recently worked to shame a Chinese teen into apologizing for defacing an ancient Egyptian temple with graffiti.
Before Western readers start pointing fingers at the Chinese for irresponsible behaviors, keep in mind that a Florida man was recently caught harassing a baby manatee after he posted the photos on Facebook. In that case, however, he was fined and faced potential jail time. Besides being scolded on Twitter, the dolphin killers likely won’t face any repercussions for their actions.
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