Wechat is one of the most popular mobile communication services in China, developed by Tencent Holdings Ltd in October, 2010. The beta version was first released for iPhone users in January 2011 and then more features were added gradually. Wechat was originally designed as a mobile terminal to link QQ, the most popular instant message tool in China, so that clients can easily imports the contacts who know each other, but then it turns out that more and more people are more willing to accept Wechat as a replace of QQ and just in a couple of years, it became the new hotspot and saw a humongous increase in the number of users.
Wechat has several strikingly visual features that echo first stage of Onian’s stages of amazement leading to learning. Besides the regular features an IM service contains, it can transmit instant audio and video messages, and search someone who are close to you, and if you shake your cellphone it finds the people who shake the phone at the same time, MoMents like facebook is a social networking service and CurrentBottle helps you chat with strangers as an old friend. All these amazing functions whirlwinds the young people quickly. However, when Wechat gets real popular, per Onian said, “a consequent physical paralysis” emerged (Gunning, p41). People get used to it, people treated it as a routine business and even nobody realizes how and when it became the vogue.
Different groups have attitudes by no mean alike due to their understanding and master of the tool, “the mental reaction which results in something being learned” is quite unlike and thus the “actions” people take on Wechat are distinct (Gunning, p41). Men usually use Wechat to hook up women, and women use it to promote sales of cosmetics, and since there are rumors about people using Wechat to defraud, extort or even trafficking by cheating, parents and seniors more care about the safety of kids’ who use it. But due to the fact that teenagers like Wechat and have a strong curiosity about that, they play it in classes anyway. What it really does? From my perspective, it’s just a communication service that combines different technologies and brings people greater convenience. I am using it every day and will continue being a loyal customer.
By September 17th 2012, Wechat had 2 billion customers all over the world, and by January 15th 2013, it had put a big influence on Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and overseas Chinese communities. In restrospect, the reason Wechat became popular seems to be more coincident rather than doomed, it’s designed as an affiliated helper of QQ, just as “Phonoscope, one of the first attempts to interrelate sound and motion pictures and first intended as for the instructions of the deaf in the techniques of speech”, not intended but developed awry into a direction that everyone are excited to see (Gunning, p52). Wechat makes my life more and more convenient now, because of features like video message save the money which I would have spent on the phone call, and the free entertainment service it provides fills my life with happiness. All in all, Wechat is spreading and more and more people cannot leave Wechat in their daily life.
Gunning, T. 2003. ‘Re-newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature and the Uncanny in Technology From the Previous Turn-of the-Century’, in Thorburn, D. and Jenkins, H. (eds) Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press