Liu Yu has felt like a "fish out of water" for the past few days.
This 26-year-old clerk from Beijing is just one of millions of netizens
coping with life without access to the MSN instant messaging service since the
severing of undersea cables as a result of two earthquakes that rocked Taiwan on
"The breakdown of the MSN service since Tuesday has brought a sudden end to
my familiar cyber world, making my life dull and boring," said Liu.
An online survey by Sina.com, the country's leading news portal, found that
at least half of the country's 15 million MSN users have been affected by the
current breakdown and have tried new ways of online communication.
The syndrome has been so widespread that a blog essay competition on the
theme of "days without MSN" held by sohu.com, a leading popular website in
China, attracted hundreds of netizens within a few hours on Friday.
"Days without MSN are simply so unbearable," wrote the majority of netizens,
many of whom asked online for ideas to kill time.
They also said that a symptom of the syndrome is that they click every 10
minutes to check whether the MSN service has been restored and cannot
concentrate on their work.
In addition to dull life, office workers also complain that the Internet
breakdown has made their work less efficient, rendering online communication
with their overseas business partners impossible.
"The breakdown clearly shows that the world is so closely linked together
that a cable breakdown in Taiwan can impact many parts of the world," said Zhou
Jia, a businessman in Shanghai.
According to experts, the fundamental reason for the syndrome is that many
people's lives have become dependent on the Internet.
"For many people, frustrated interpersonal relationships in reality have led
them to choose the virtual world for consolation," said Xia Xueluan, a sociology
professor at Peking University.
"When one channel is cut off, they will feel greatly uneasy and try to find
alternatives," said Xia.
In fact, millions of netizens have turned to La-Va and QQ, two major domestic
online chatting tools, to communicate since Tuesday, reported Chinese-language
Experts also called for emergency measures to curb sudden Internet collapse
and minimize its influence on Internet users.
(China Daily 12/30/2006 page1)