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FDR's America had radio and early television, just like Germany. It's basically the same thing, morally; doesn't matter how the technology was used. Why do dictatorships get so unfairly "framed"?

Don't want to presume or attack anything about you personally, but your argument is despicable.

My point is that this paragraph uses stilted language to make a completely mundane event sound sinister, and this makes me skeptical of how the app is portrayed in general. What’s despicable about that? Should I ignore manipulative writing as long as the targets deserve it?

Ah, ok, I think I see what you meant.

At least as far as I've seen, this is roughly the same general alarmist, sensational tone that you'll see in NYT's articles about the (very real) dangers of tech in the West.

> Should I ignore manipulative writing

Hard to, these days. Most news is manipulative, most news is slanted. We're all kind of stuck trying to extract facts from the morass of spin, and form our worldviews based on that. And of course it's fine to point out manipulation as you see it -- I apologize for calling that despicable.

But: reread that sentence you quoted. It's not talking about the "mundane event" of checking an app in the morning. It's telling you about the noteworthy trend of a state-run media in a fascist country celebrating such mundane habits. The NYT is calling out "stilted language" and "manipulative writing" as it were, albeit indirectly and without direct citation or translation, so it's the NYT's word against the People's Daily's. Whom do you trust more? (I'm as disappointed as the next guy in the NYT these past few years, but I really hope your answer to this question isn't a false equivalency).

How are they calling out the manipulative writing? Why does it matter who I trust more? I trust the NYT much more than the People’s Daily, but how is that relevant to my point here?

Which point?

Your claim was that the NYT was reporting on mundane events. In fact, the New York Times in that sentence is reporting on how the Chinese media manipulates and guilts the public by normalizing & praising extreme usage. Perhaps "manipulative" is a little strong, but it is indisputably an advertisement/endorsement, and all advertising involves some degree of scripting/manipulation.

The "whom do you trust more" is relevant only because the NYT did not quote from specific articles or broadcasts, so we're stuck trusting their synopsis. (And, as you've been saying, filtering out / correcting for their habitual biases).

And -- I wouldn't sign onto your strawman suggestion that one should ignore bias if the targets deserve it. The current US president deserves far worse than stilted reporting, but that doesn't stop me from being peeved at the media for throwing out their duty to truth whenever there's any slight chance to tear him down. My visceral reaction is to how you turn around the article with your initial "How many Americans...". This feels like deflecting the issue with a false comparison.

But it’s not extreme usage! It’s perfectly normal usage. I don’t think it’s healthy to go straight for the smartphone in the morning before even getting out of bet, but lots of people do it. That was the point of my “how many Americans” comparison: using an app before getting out of bed is completely unremarkable, so why is the NYT calling it out, and why are they using such bizarre language to do so?

If you’re saying that they’re just repeating the People’s Daily in an attempt to show that China is manipulating people with weird language for mundane things, I think that’s way too subtle to belong in ostensibly objective reporting without something explicitly calling that out. I also don’t trust the translation to accurately portray the character of the original. It’s extremely common for English media to use stilted translations of mundane Chinese phrases (and I’m sure this happens with other languages too) in order to portray something as exotic or weird. See the recent “Breed Ready” nonsense for an example. That bad translation originated with the programmers, but none of the reporting mentioned that it was in fact a really bad translation of a fairly mundane term.

Ah, yes, "extreme" is a bad word choice. I mean to say, "unhealthy". Unhealthy usage is totally the norm, but it's abnormal for a country's media to praise such addiction in a climate where most countries' media are sounding an alarm.

> bizarre language

Again, I contend that this is how NYT typically talks about all countries' social media these days, but this is of course my subjective impression.

> Too subtle a point

Point conceded, you're right. I was a little too eager to turn your own verbiage around on you.

The "BreedReady" translation is really bad, I agree. Hadn't seen that. What's the original hanzi? Like, if you're reporting on a country, you should know how its compound words are formed. But it's the nature of the 140-character dystopia that the most shocking translation is the one that goes viral.

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