Sometimes it's hard to say how you feel about someone or something. You need music to express it, whether it's the emotional vulnerability of Al Green or the fearless eroticism of late-period Prince. Sometimes you don't even know you feel something until you hear the right song and it unlocks something inside you. You bring your own meaning to the song and that meaning changes you and you come away a better person for it.
Today, that happened to me with a strange military anthem from China's Cyberspace Administration, performed at a Lunar New Year celebration in Beijing. It's a song about how great the internet is. I wouldn't have said that we needed a song about how great the internet is, but now I'm sure that we do. The lyrics are in Chinese and I don't speak Chinese, but this is what The New York Times says the chorus means:
An Internet power: Where the Internet is, so is the glorious dream.
An Internet power: From the distant cosmos to the missing home.
An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.
An Internet power: I represent my nation to the world.Obviously we've had our differences with the Cyberspace Administration of China, starting with the omnipresent surveillance and man-in-the-middle attacks on popular consumer products, which of course intersect with larger national issues of human rights and political oppression. But I'd like to put that aside for a moment so we can all bask together in the transcendent beauty of song. We've embedded the tune below — if you know the words, feel free to sing along:
An Internet power: Where the Internet is, so is the glorious dream.Yes! This is basically how I've felt since I first typed "http://www.dilbert.com" into Netscape 1.1 nearly 20 years ago. I've been living inside the glorious dream ever since that moment, but I've never had the words to say it until right now.
An Internet power: From the distant cosmos to the missing home.I Skype with my family all the time! And I'm always looking at pictures of space on the internet. It's like we're all everywhere all the time, made present through the power of information technology.
An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.Obviously this is harder for me to relate to since I've never been to China and I don't really know what the Chinese Dream refers to. But I'm optimistic that, with the internet's help, they'll be able to fill me in on that.
An Internet power: I represent my nation to the world.It's true! At least, I try to. Right now (with these very words), I'm representing my own nation to other nations, just as China is representing itself to me. We're all participating in a vast and continuous cultural exchange, carried over ropes of glass buried deep within the mother ocean.
I know this is all a lot to take in, and there's a lot of communist pageantry to get through if you're really going to commit to that wavelength — but the important thing is that we all love the internet, and now there's a song about it. Sometimes we get mad about the internet and say things that sound harsh but it's only because we care. Sometimes we care more than we know. We hope the internet knows that.