LINGBO LI – Reading Journal 2

This article written by McLaren (2007) named ‘Online intimacy in a Chinese setting’ is found to be attractive and justified to me in terms of the argument it presented was really reflecting the Chinese social phenomenon.

As the internet has spread widely and rapidly in China since 1987, more and more Chinese citizens start to rely on the function of the network, communicating through means of internet becomes even popular. In this article, a digital game called web marriage was discussed because of its controversial impact on youth society. It refers to a website that seeks to replicate the offline experience between the parties and create online visual relationships. Supporter argues that this game can fulfil people’s psychological needs that cannot be obtained in real life due to financial and social constraints, whereas the opponent claims that internet game offers young people lack of independency and responsibility, it impacted on youth real life perspective and obsession with the network result in poor performance at school.

Positive arguments towards this website discussing that web marriage can take people away from loneliness, and satisfies the need for emotional fulfilment. Moreover, young people are at the stage of meeting with different social contact, the experience in visual game may prompt a concept of what will be in the real life. An experimental example was given by McLaren indicates that 38 per cent of inmates has changed their attitude towards actual marriage after undergoing web marriage (2007, p 411). Personally, this can be purely understood as I was grown up in China. Because of one child policy many teenagers have found feelings of loneliness and lack of communication with the outside world also result them become obsessed to internet. Because what can be learnt from internet is unlimited, people enjoy the role they acted in web games, experiencing the feelings of getting married or divorced may have impact on their social attitude in the future. As cited in article, Chinese sex education is not as open as in the west (McLaren, 2007, p.419). Young people trying to obtain that information through the means of online community and that is also one of the reason why web marriage game was so popular.

On the other hand, it is always said that indulge in the network is harmful to one’s health especially to the youth party. Virtual world is lack of responsibility compare to the real world, even though the ‘social sanctions’ and ‘a sense of shame’ are greatly reduced in online identity (Karsten, 2003). Taking responsible to others is less concerned since everything is just visualised. Moreover, McLaren argues that intimate language to be used in visual marriage may cause actual marriage breakdown and abused moral code (2007, p. 413). Living in a virtual world will make people feel incorporeal, indeed, there is no real responsibility needs to be taken in those online games, it is easier to break up with someone online than in the real life (The Economist, 2006). However, these conducts may result in real life consequences such that breaking relationships between couples.

In summary, there is good and bad voice stand for online visual games. In case of China where sexual education is not widely opened, it is possible for teenagers start learning some knowledge and play different roles before step into the society. Nevertheless, wisely control the personal identity between real life and visual world needs to be takes into account.




Giese, Karsten (2003) Construction and performance of virtual identity in the Chinese internet, in K.C. Ho, R. Kluver and K.C.C. Yang (eds), Asia encounters the internet, pp. 193–210 (London: Routledge).

McLaren, E, A 2007, ‘Asian Studies Review’, Online Intimacy in a Chinese Setting, December, p. 409–422

‘The Economist’, Special report, 2006, Virtual online worlds, Living a Second Life, Accessed 21st September 2012, Source: from


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