April 24, 2010

A Day in Grey

To commemorate the victims of Qinghai Yushu Earthquake, the Chinese government set April 21, 2010 aside as a day of mourning. Flags were flown at half-mast, and all public entertainment ceased.

Then, to pay their respects to the dead, many websites 'spontaneously' converted pages to greyscale ('spontaneous' in quotation marks since the same one-day-transformation also followed the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake). It was a strange time. Sad because of the lost lives. Bewildering because China has to bury many more so soon after the 2008 catastrophe. And angry, because some people felt the 'coerced mourning' was at once hypocritical and an exercise of tyrannical power.

1. Screenshot of PConline on April 21
2. Screenshot of sina on April 21

3. A Chinese actor's (陈道明) official forum

4. Due to different levels of technical skills, some webpages were still partially colored. For instance, Kaixin001

5. In very little time, Netizens realized that the government site, the one who dared to spit in the face of peer pressure, was still brightly colored. This was one discovery that drew some sarcastic remarks.

For the most part, people grieved.
sina microblogger Realyl wrote:
Grey! My heart is filled with grey.

"萝卜爱青菜" wrote:
Why didn't my Renren account turn grey? I am losing face!

"幸福乌鸦" wrote:
Not sure why, after seeing so much grey on line, I feel a great weight in my heart. Tears well up. Although I couldn't obtain any news directly, I still know that whenever there is disaster, pain and wounds exist. Not able to do much, I can only pray for the deceased....

Not everyone felt the same though.
"扫扫" wrote:
Those who dislike grey pages can copy-paste the following code (javascript:void(document.documentElement.style.filter='none') to the Address Bar and then bookmark the page. Now clicking on the bookmarked page will open up a colored version.

microblogger "若阳" wrote:
Once more, this Yushu thing allowed me to see coercion by the government. No matter which TV channel I switched to last night, I could only watch the same program. Then, at midnight, the whole internet greyed out, but some color remained, like sarcasm.

It is not that I don't have a conscience. But this is just too much, too exaggerated. No use grieving. We should grieve on our own, whereas this is merely a show.

Also, a day after the Official Mourning, hecaitou delineated two opposing views: the minority who questioned the government's right to force them to mourn in a specific way vs. the majority who view this minority group as troublemakers.
Some were plainly confused:
"th3rd" wrote:
Looks like many websites will only appear grey in Internet Explorer. Chrome still shows a colorful world--does this mean today we can only use IE?

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