To understand the political meanings of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement as a spontaneous movement beyond its immediate political achievements and as part of a larger global movement that used occupation as a tactic, this article explores related activities happening in social media and investigates how this social space is filled with both political messages and private emotions. By engaging with Hannah Arendt’s differentiation among the public, the social, and the private, this article takes the social seriously and draws our attention to the social as a realm of both discrimination and mediation. In such spaces where the political and the private meet and negotiate, we find the complex flows of emotion of the protestors, who struggled between confiding in the open political world and indulging in their private emotions. Housing such intense mingling of the private and the public, social media both perpetuates biases and cultivates freedom, also reflecting the social nature of recent occupied movements.
Retheorizing the Social: The Use of Social Media in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement
Pang Laikwan is a professor teaching in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is the author of several books, including The Art of Cloning: Cultural Production during China’s Cultural Revolution (2017).