Blame it on the Oscars, which showed how a selfie by host Ellen DeGeneres with a constellation of Hollywood stars can produce a big bang in the social media sphere.
That was in 2014. This year, the Academy Awards gave up the childish idea, but some politicians in Hong Kong have just started to pick it up.
The latest example is former chief secretary and defeated chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen, who posted two selfies taken in snowy Beijing on his Weibo as he praised the magic of the internet and the creativity of our young generation.
Bad PR, we reckon. Tang remains a rather media-friendly guy, but he must have hired a PR agent to make a statement in the local press about the annual Twin Meetings.
It would have been nice if he is the only one who has taken the idea. Unfortunately, online media don’t have much interest in this selfie, which is simply sending the message that “I am so lonely in Beijing”.
To put this matter in the Chinese political context, how likely do you think National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang will post a selfie with Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference vice chairman Tung Chee-hwa to promote unity between Hong Kong and China?
And, of course, Premier Li Keqiang would not be caught dead posting infographics about the country’s economic restructuring on WeChat, nor would President Xi Jinping think of using anti-corruption visuals on Instagram. They have no need for those.
In the first place, just how many politicians know how to post a message on Facebook or Weibo without having to pay their PR agents to do it for them?
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, whose selfies with electronic media reporters last week drew generally positive reviews, was frank enough to admit that his Facebook post was managed by his younger staff in the office.
After all, whether a post on social media will go viral depends on the character of the person doing the post.
That’s why John Tsang’s selfie with journalists got hundreds of likes.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, on the other hand, doesn’t have a Facebook page. Why would he bother? His bosses in Beijing also don’t have one.
But he maintains a well-used blog on the Hong Kong government website. He posted selfies with a group of young volunteers from the New Territories on Feb. 15, two weeks before Tsang’s budget speech. Leung also had a selfie with a group of Lai Chi Kok youngsters for his “Take Action” fund. Guess what, nobody bothered to cover those events and his posts were not echoed online.
Among corporates, tycoon Li Ka-shing was among the first to do selfies, including one with a group of students whose trip to Israel he sponsored in January.
That created a huge publicity, and portrayed him as a prime mover in taking Hong Kong to the world stage, which is in line with the national “going out” strategy.
But poor Henry, he just made a fool of himself. His example in Beijing should deter any rich second generation from going the selfie route.
Except, of course, if he gets his uncle and paramount leader Jiang Zemin to pose with him in front of the camera. Then that’s another story.
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