There are over two million tweets about #nnevvy.
In quarantine, there might be plenty of time to go through all of them. Although really, no one is bored enough to go through them all.
There’s still Netflix, after all.
But if you go through enough of them, aside from racism, nationalism and Internet trolls, there’s a silver lining.
A superficial understanding would judge the #nnevvy controversy as irrelevant internet drama. However, the silver lining from a sociological insight is this: despite differences, we all struggle for freedom.
But before we go into the silver lining, let’s understand what happened.
Get ready to rumble.
On Saturday night, #nnevvy exploded because the girlfriend of Vachirawit Chivaaree, lead actor in the popular TV soap opera 2gether: The Series retweeted a post that accused China of spreading COVID-19 and refusing to allow international investigators into Wuhan to find the truth.
The retweet sparked a backlash from Chinese social media and the situation spiralled into a battle between two nations where nationalism is the gun, racism is the bullet and xenophobia is the grenade.
Meanwhile, Thai social media users hit China with a nuclear bomb, by arguing Taiwan and Hong Kong as sovereign nations, rather than subjects of the Republic of China.
This prompted all sorts of counter offensives from Chinese social media users which, to summarize as civil as possible, is basically: “Na ah, you didn’t just go there.”
“Oh, it’s on now.”
Exacerbating the conflict was the actor of 2gether: The Series himself who retweeted a controversial post against China, which he quickly apologized for.
But to no avail.
Both sides attacked each other’s governments, political systems, music, hygiene, looks, races, foods, ethnicities, freedom (or lack thereof), you name it. This also includes many posts by Chinese social media users against the monarchy, which we shall say no more about, due to Article 112 or the Lèse majesté law.
Not surprisingly, when Chinese social media attacked the Thai government et al, Thai social media users — who by-and-large are anti-establishment — laughed and encouraged more criticisms.
There was even an argument over who has better hip-hop music. Somehow, Chinese social media users began to share the music video “Rap Against Dictatorship” (ประเทศกูมี) with Chinese translation.
Social media users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines joined in, and the arguments exposed deeper political tensions in the region.
Hong Kong and Taiwan social media generally sided with the Thais and spoke out on their independence from China. As well, Filipino social media sided with the Thais and spoke out on their conflicts with China in the South China Sea.
Not all the tweets are about racism and xenophobia.
Everyone has his or her own interpretation and understanding of the controversy, which reflects on who you are as a person, more than anything else.
Look past the emotional outage and find what lies beneath are people in two nations who are frustrated.
Of the over two million tweets on #nnevvy, the majority are riddled with anger, but look carefully and you will find voices from both sides that speak out for freedom.
When arguments went from “who’s to blame for COVID-19” to “which country has more freedom,” then we have found something in common, we struggle for freedom.
Factor in the comments from social media users in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and it’s the same theme, a struggle for freedom.
This post by a Chinese social media user shows that there are those in China who want better things for their country. Just as there are those in Thailand who want better things for ours.