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Virginia Tech Reflects Information Society

Is the Internet destroying our young?

                                                              [La Jornada, Mexico]



Xinjingbao, People's Republic of China

Information Society Triggered Massacre


Is the information society breeding people like the deranged mass murderer of Virginia Tech, Cho Seung-hui? According to this interview with one of China's leading information technology experts from the state-controlled Xinjingbao [Beijing News], it isn't the easy-availability of guns that is the problem, but increasing dependence on the Internet. This has resulted in a generation of alienated young people with weak communications skills, posing a threat to the entire world - not just the United States.


Interview with Li Ji-bing [马晶] conducted by Ma Jing [者马晶]


Translated By How Xian Neng [侯显能]


April 22, 2007


People's Republic of China - Xinjingbao - Original Article (Chinese)

If humanity's excessive reliance on information technology cannot be curbed in a timely fashion; if humanity cannot distinguish between the real world and the virtual world; if the violent tendency of online games cannot be curbed; if fundamental education in culture and the humanities cannot be enhanced; we may - by promoting technological progress for the betterment of mankind - be creating an even bigger danger for ourselves in the future.


-- Li Ji-bing*


On April 16th, Cho Seung-hui, a foreign student of South Korean extraction, committed the deadliest campus assault in American history on the campus of the Virginia State University of Science and Technology. Xinjingbao spoke to Mr. Li Ji-bing, the incumbent Commissioner for the National Expert Commission on Telecommunication Economy at the Ministry of Information Industry. He is a leading IT expert and economist who once served as a court-appointed expert in the State of Virginia. As an information industry specialist who lived in United States, he explains how the information society promotes alienation, and he also describes the impact that this has had on the immigrant culture of Asian-Americans.


Xinjingbao: Was the recent shooting at Virginia Tech random, or was it inevitable?


Li Ji-bing: I have a very good understanding of the United States and Virginia. Because of my work, I have visited Virginia Polytechnic University many times.


I don't think this was a random, isolated shooting. This tragedy should cause everyone to reflect on the impact of the information society on the education and interpersonal skills of our young people.


This armed assault was a historic first on an American campus, because the mood of an individual brought about a mass slaughter. The killer's behavior lacked any ideological pretext [Translator's Note: The author appears to be referring to the lack of a political or religious motive for the crime, which he regards as more depraved]. It was purely personal. It was a fundamental betrayal of humanist values. Thus, it is a tragedy of mankind as a whole, not only the United States or a University in America. It is not just a random occurrence, but the inevitable result of danger which has accumulated over the years.


Xinjingbao: Why do you say it was “inevitable?” Is it the inevitable result of some kind of trend n social development?


Li Ji-bing: In examining the campus shooting incident in Virginia, it is clear that the personality of the murderer, Cho Sheung-hui, was withdrawn, eccentric and twisted. This young man's mentality is a reflection of the fact that over past 10 years, the rapid development of information technology has not only brought great opportunity and wealth, but a perversion of the human spirit due to the influx of distorted information. With the Internet culture and virtual world under constant development, the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with the surrounding society has steadily weakened.


Scientific experiments prove that communication skills are inversely proportionate to the degree of reliance on the Internet. More importantly, when people increasingly rely on the Internet and the virtual world, not only do his communications skills weaken, but his ability to make rational judgments in response to changes in the real world tend to weaken as well.


Xinjingbao: In regard to the Virginia Tech assault, how do you trace this incident to the information society?


Li Ji-bing: This armed assault was in fact a negative consequence of information science. The expansion of the virtual society reduces opportunities for human interaction, creating people who don’t know how to operate in society and take part in social interactions. These people are constantly on edge and once they erupt, a tragedy for society can result.


On the other hand, the flood of Internet violence has added fuel to the fire, specifically the many online games that promote violence and bloodshed. Very many young people, instead of spending time studying the humanities, science, the history of civilization and the essence of human culture, get addicted to these games and spend massive amounts of time in a state of game-inspired confusion.


I think that the “personal vendetta” of Cho Seung-hui should be considered a form of terrorism, only more dangerous than traditional terrorism, which is triggered by political differences or religious ideology.


Xinjingbao: What has this shooting taught the world?



Li Ji-bing: In fact, the conditions that triggered this tragedy exist all over the world. Every nation, including us in China, must reflect on this tragedy. Specifically, under our present educational system, we should not over-emphasize the skill of by-rote memorization and neglect the character development of our young. Moreover, we must take measures to overcome the reliance of young people on the Internet and find a balance between the virtual world and actual human society.


What needs to be emphasized is this: If humanity's excessive reliance on information technology cannot be curbed in a timely fashion; if humanity cannot distinguish between the real world and the virtual world; if the violent tendency of online games cannot be curbed; if fundamental education in culture and the humanities cannot be enhanced; we may - by promoting technological progress for the betterment of mankind - be creating an even bigger danger for ourselves in the future. This is the first important lesson Cho Seung-hui has taught us.


Xinjingbao: Besides the much-criticized availability of weapons in America and the Internet culture you have discussed, were there any other broad societal issues at play in this armed assault?


Li Ji-bing: Yes, this tragedy has a most profound social backdrop. Cho Seung-hui migrated to the U.S. along with his parents during primary school, and received his Permanent Residence status after growing up there. This is quite similar to many Asian children in America.


Most Asian families enter the U.S. on a lower economic rung, whereas Cho Seung-hui's family lived in Fairfax County [Virginia], which is the wealthiest county in America, with average family income at around $100,000. Growing up in this kind a social circumstance, Cho Seung-hui most definitely grew up with tremendous psychological tension.


Generally speaking, Asian immigrant families have two main concerns: A focus in a child's academic record, which leads to a neglect of his or her's social education; and a focus on the family's economic status to the detriment of the child's character development.


Cho Seung-hui taught us is that a family that focuses excessively on the accumulation of family wealth will not be able to raise a child with healthy personality traits; and we can conclude from this that a society in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few cannot be a healthy and stable one.


Even though many Asians have outstanding academic results, they often feel out of step with the local culture and frequently feel isolated.


The tragedy of Cho Seung-hui should sound the alarm for all Asian families in America. After immigrating to the U.S., the most important issue should not be academic results, but the integration into local culture. If this warning is not heeded, this tragedy could be repeated anytime.


*Li Ji-bing currently serves as Commissioner for the National Expert Commission on Telecommunication Economy. He is also the Chief Advisor at the International Lab on Electromagnetic Field Theory and Application at the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunication and has been a Visiting Professor at various universities within China.


In the 1990s, Mr. Li was employed in the United States as a Senior Economist at both the Montana Public Utility Commission and U.S. Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C. where he received a performance award. He was also the Principal Economist at Virginia State Corporation Commission. Mr. Li received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University. Besides taking numerous Ph.D. study courses, Mr. Li obtained his M.S. in Regulatory Economics at University of Wyoming.



Chinese Version Below




2007-4-22 6:56:17 · 来源: 新京报





416日,韩国留学生赵承熙在美国弗吉尼亚理工大学制造了美国有史以来最严重的校园枪击案。现任中国信息产业部电信经济专家委员会 委员、曾任美国弗吉尼亚州首席经济学家和法院指定作证专家的李极冰以信息产业专家和美国社会经验者的身份,从信息社会的人格异化及美国亚裔移民文化的角 度,对此进行了剖析。







  李极冰:从此次弗吉尼亚校园枪击案中我们可以看到,凶手赵承熙是一个性格孤僻、人格扭曲的人。这反映出,近10年来人类信息社会的迅速发展,既 为人类带来了巨大的财富和机会,同时带来了在信息扭曲下人类精神的变异和灵魂的扭曲。随着网络文化和虚拟世界的不断发展,个人与周围社会的交往能力越来越 弱。







  李极冰:事实上,此次美国校园枪击案悲剧的土壤在全球都普遍存在.全世界、包括我们中国在内都应当对这一悲剧进行反思。特别是在目前的教育体制 下,我们不应当由于过度重视知识考核和技巧积累而忽视青少年的人格完善。另外,还应当采取措施,遏制青少年对网络的依赖,平衡现实社会与虚拟社会的关系。

  需要特别强调的是,如果不及时采取措施遏制人类对网络信息化的过度依赖,如果不能平衡人类在现实世界和虚拟世界之间的关系,如果不能制止网络游 戏的暴力倾向,如果不能大力度地加强人文基础教育,我们可能在推动技术进步的同时也为人类自己制造更大的危险,人类在今后将会面临更大更多的麻烦。这是赵 承熙悲剧给我们的第一个启示。




  一般来说,亚裔移民家庭进入美国社会后,普遍关注两头:一头是注重孩子的学习成绩,而忽略了对孩子全面的人文教育;另一方面是关注了家庭的经济 地位,忽视了培养孩子健全的人格。赵承熙悲剧给我们的第二个启示就是,一个将生活主题定位于积累财富的家庭,不会培养出人格健全的孩子;一个将财富过于集 中在少数人手中的社会,也不是一个健全和稳定的社会。




A pictures of the deranged Cho Seung-Hui: Does his case reflect the growing alienation of young people from the real world?

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Before committing his desperate crime, mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui made a video as part of his 'Manifesto,' Apr. 19, 00:02:04RealVideo

RealVideo[LATEST NEWS PHOTOS: Massacre in Virginia].

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Suprisingly, American opinions on guns haven't change since Virginia massacre, 00:02:00, Apr. 24WindowsVideo

A reporter knocks on the door of the family of Cho Seung-Hui, 23, in Centreville, Virginia. There was no answer.

Norris Hall, center and right, on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.. This is where most of the murders took place.

A Glock 9mm pistol, similar to the one purchased 36 days ago by Cho Seung-Hui, for $571. But some believe it is the information society which is at fault, rather than the easy availability of hand guns.

Cho Seung-Hui: Was his horrific crime a warning - not about guns, but the Internet?