People’s Republic of Desire (2018) is a documentary exploring the social transactions of two live streamers who seek fame, fortune and human connection to China’s “digital idol-making universe”. While watching this film, my tweets expressed my raw emotions towards the individuals, as I discovered the underlying struggles that these live streamers had to go through in order to “strategize and monetize their popularity” to make a living for themselves and their families (Marwick, 2015).
In China, the development of digital infrastructure has risen drastically as two billion people are now internet users (Internet World Stats, 2017). In china, this raised a large opportunity to make money digitally as live streamers, especially due to labour being extremely cheap.
Within this documentary, the success of these live streamers was very obvious and it was due to the marketing of their often-meagre talents in ways that allows thousands of their fans to send them gifts and pay money to vote for them in competitions. Although it sounds manageable, these streamers are under enormous amounts of pressure as they are expected to be successful. They are constantly watched by thousands of people and everything they do and/or say are constantly monitored and criticised. I felt so many empathetic emotions towards these streamers as I could see their mental health deteriorating and they became desperate to do anything for “likes, gifts, money and followers” (Athique, 2019). A specific quote that was said by a successful live streamer in the film that really effected me was “yes i’m happy, because compared to others I should be”.
As proven through this film, social transactions have allowed for connectivity through communicative platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Skype, WeChat, YY etc. This is incredible as people from all over the world are able to communicate to each other, no matter where they are located. However, there are also a number of negative impacts caused by social transactions including hateful comments, mental health issues, and pressure to present yourself how others expect. This digital and social media industry is evolving as time goes on and there are expectations of digital money and social transactions to continue to grow. This is useful for countries including China where labour is cheap, as it raises more financial opportunities.
Arthique, Adrian (2019). ‘Digital Transactions in Asia: Social, Economic and Informational Processes’, New York, NY United States; Routledge, pp.1-22.
Internet World Stats (2017), ‘Internet Usage in Asia’. Available: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm , Accessed 28 July 2021
Marwick, Alice (2015), ‘Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy’, Public Culture (27), pp. 137-160.