After purchasing 50,000 yuan (approximately $7,621) worth of chocolates to cheer up her classmates during lockdown, a Chinese graduate student was cyberbullied for “showing off.”
As Shanghai goes into its fourth week of lockdown, Chen Zhenzhen, a graduate student studying philosophy, sought an opportunity to cheer up her classmates after a university counselor encouraged students to keep a positive attitude.
“Chocolates are no substitute for meals, but might give them [classmates] psychological comfort and make them feel love from others,” Chen told Shanghai Daily via English East Day.
Chen, who runs online stores and has been a photographer for wedding events and other occasions, originally planned to use the money on a camera lens. Instead, she spent 50,000 yuan (about $7,621) of her savings to purchase a bulk order of chocolates from a local supermarket, reported the Shanghai Observer via South China Morning Post.
“It’s also the biggest purchase I have made in my life,” Chen told Shanghai Daily. “But I think it’s worth it because it can make so many people happy.”
After the university delivered the chocolates to students who were locked in their dormitories on April 4, the graduate student posted about her experience on Chinese social media platforms, where she initially received praise and gratitude. Students would send photos of the chocolates shaped as “Thank U” and Chen’s initials, “CZZ.”
The positive messages, however, quickly turned spiteful, as internet users began directing abusive remarks at Chen, with many accusing her of seeking attention and recklessly spending her parents’ money. The bombardment of hostile comments caused the graduate student to stay off the internet for a week after feeling afraid and heartbroken.
One internet user, for example, blatantly accused Chen of faking her kindness for attention stating: “You seem to be trying to seek the public’s attention, but why do you pretend to be a kindhearted person? Rubbish.”
A lawyer at a Shanghai law firm told the Morning Post that he believes the online abuse in Chen’s case calls for a lawsuit in accordance with a defamation guideline that came out in 2013.
The new 2013 guideline for anti-defamation laws in China states that if a hostile message is seen more than 5,000 times or is shared more than 500 times, then the individual may face up to three years in prison. The guidelines were created to help fight the spread of misinformation across the internet.