Sat, Apr 27, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Comic explores social media dangers

By Wu Po-hsuan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Comic book artist Hom Weng shows her autograph on the flyleaf of a copy of the fourth installment of her comic book series Big City, Little Things in Taipei on Sunday.

Photo: Wu Po-hsuan, Taipei Times

In the fourth volume of Hom Weng’s (翁瑜鴻) comic book series Big City, Little Things (大城小事), released in February, the author explores the dangers of social media as a vehicle for spreading rumors.

In the fifth chapter, “Shih Kung Te Chien Pan” (失控的鍵盤, “The Out-of-Control Keyboard”), a conflict between a fried chicken vendor and a customer is taken to the Internet, where the vendor receives negative reviews and is verbally attacked.

The story was inspired by Weng’s personal observations of the rise in the number of people sending tip-offs to the media and using the Internet as a platform to hold “public trials” about things that did not fulfill their expectations, Weng said.

For example, an online comment saying that “night markets are unsanitary” could have negative consequences, she said.

In real life, as in the story, the Internet becomes a tool for people to indirectly harm others, she said.

Although she wanted to satirize how social media is used to sway public opinion, she also wanted to preserve the honesty, purity and selflessness of personal relationships, which she believes can correct false information, she said.

In the story, another character discredits a photograph that was fabricated to convince people that a cockroach was found in the vendor’s food.

Weng said that she believes her work must be honest, which is why the majority of her ideas come from conversations with her friends or from news events, as doing so makes the stories relatable.

She said that she plans to discuss diverse family structures in the next volume by depicting the various challenges that families with same-sex parents encounter from the child’s perspective.

Unlike most comic books, Big City, Little Things does not have a protagonist or main storyline, but the volumes are connected by the appearance of the same characters, she said.

As she herself has grown, the focus of her work has gradually shifted from personal topics to social phenomena, she said.

However, she avoids prescribing what is right or wrong, or becoming a so-called “social justice warrior,” she said, adding that through the stories, she wants to communicate different perspectives.

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