Why Are Drones Shaming Chinese Citizens? The Coronavirus

Why Are Drones Shaming Chinese Citizens? The Coronavirus February 3, 2020

It’s a truism to say war and suffering expose the best and worst about human nature. Similarly, virus outbreaks seem to increasingly reveal the internal dynamics of Chinese culture.

Several news outlets report that the Chinese government has recently resorted to using drones as a tool for shaming its citizens. Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, officials have told people to either wear masks or stay indoors. Not surprisingly, some people don’t listen.

Coronavirus Call Out

China has taken call out culture to a new level. In an effort to ensure compliance, police have dispatched “sharp-tongued” drones that call out offenders right where they stand.

See for yourself. Check out this video:

One confused person heard a voice overhead say, “This is the drone speaking to you…  we’ve been telling people to stay at home, but you are still outside.”[1]

Sometimes, the drone peppers in a little flattery before dropping the hammer, “Hey, pretty young ladies eating and walking! Put on your masks![2]

This is not the first time that officials have employed this tactic. Last year, police began using drones to stop traffic violations.

Does this actually work?

I doubt this would work in a lot of places in the West. You know there would be countless people who would go outside with the purpose of being publicly “shamed.” They would think it’s funny. YouTube is full of similar such videos. A few dynamics ensure compliance.

1) Shame

Chinese are far more sensitive to shame. No one wants to stick out. I’ve even heard several times of students who purposely scored poorly on tests and quizzes in order to make sure they did not stand out among their peers.

You might recall, a couple of years back, that cities used this trick to deter jaywalkers.

2) Others-Conscious

Chinese are famous for their hospitality. This other mindfulness permeates much of life. They will immediate rush to a pharmacy to get you medicine if they hear you cough or sneeze a few too many times. So, they are inclined to do what they need to do for the sake of the public good.

3) Penalty

Like anyone else, no one wants to get in trouble. People have asked me several times, “Aren’t the Chinese good at obeying laws since they have a Communist government?” Not quite. In many respects, one might say China is “lawless”, though that certainly would be an exaggeration. What I mean is this –– Chinese citizens are selective about which rules they follow. They know to obey the big ones, such as those that relate to politics.

Traffic lights and stop signs? Well, those are optional, at least they were until recently with the emergence of cameras. I remember being in a car with a kid who asked, “Why are we stopped?” His dad said, “Because the light is red.” The kid then replied, “I know, but why are we stopped? We never stop at red lights.”

Chinese yield to social pressure more than laws, unless of course they know they’re on camera. ;)

Speaking of drones, if you haven’t seen the following footage of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, you’ll find this video interesting.

Wuhan a ghost town:


[1] Online: https://www.btimesonline.com/articles/125944/20200201/china-uses-drones-to-scold-people-for-not-wearing-mask.htm

[2] Online: https://www.btimesonline.com/articles/125944/20200201/china-uses-drones-to-scold-people-for-not-wearing-mask.htm

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