Chapter 338: Solitude overpowers restlessness
Prior to Weibo, regardless of whether it was his family’s supermarket, Hucheng’s platform or their service across cities, ‘Are You Hungry’ that had later come online included, Xu Tingsheng had never devoted so much funds and resources into promoting and operating them. Speaking of advertising, there had merely been a bit of it which took advantage of their fame as never ever had they truly taken out a whole bunch of money and spent it all on advertising before.
Why was Xu Tingsheng doing this with Weibo now then? Devoting immense funds, forming an all-encompassing net.
This was because Xu Tingsheng sought speed. He wanted to accomplish an absolute leading position in ‘Weibo’, a service would could actually be very easily imitated, at rapid speed as it was all brought out into the open. He had to accumulate a large consumer base and provide leading services.
The reason behind consumers being unwilling to leave a social media platform was service second, people first.
If someone’s social circle was all on a single platform as there were many people they were close with there, the possibility of them leaving the platform would decrease greatly.
Therefore, Xu Tingsheng wanted to hook people and their real life social circles in as soon as possible. He drew them in, then their colleagues, their friends, their classmates, their relatives, all the way till all was achieved.
Moreover, many new friends you would be unwilling to part with would also be made amongst strangers.
The reason for Xu Tingsheng’s worry was that Weibo’s services were different. They formed a whole which represented ‘speaking power’. As soon as it was accomplished, it would threaten the positions of many large websites and online social platforms.
The education platform that Xu Tingsheng was currently running was single-minded in its scope. Those bigwigs might not be interested in it. While their service across cities had caused them to feel slightly panicked, they had decided against entering this unfamiliar industry. When Are You Hungry had appeared...dang, gangster-like methods like exclusivity contracts-how were others supposed to imitate that? Establish a whole bunch of restaurants just for the sake of a platform for takeaway?
Weibo was different, however. Weibo’s services would cause these bigwigs to feel threatened. Meanwhile, anyone who wanted to ‘recreate’ it could do it, and everyone would want to do so too. There were no restrictions whatsoever that came from culture and content.
Most crucial was still the site traffic and their speaking power. This was an area which would inevitably be contested.
Therefore, Xu Tingsheng had to be swift and forceful in his actions to guard against them. He needed to quickly establish Xingchen Technologies’s status as orthodox, leading the race, possessing the highest number of consumers and possessing the richest content too.
This was just like what he had seen in his previous life. After XL’s Weibo had gained massive popularity, bigwigs like TX and SH had entered the field as well. However, speaking of Weibo, it was ultimately still XL’s that most people saw as the legitimate one.
Xu Tingsheng still did not possess the strength of XL, yet sought to equal their results. Thus, he invested big on this one.
As massive funds were allocated to this project, immense effects could correspondingly be seen. Moreover, Weibo had already been gradually gaining traction previously. When Tianyi’s artistes joined the site, bringing along numerous fans with them, other celebrities and famous people rode the trend as well...the number of registered users on Weibo skyrocketed crazily. Also, its own ‘biosphere’ was gradually being formed.
Hu Shengming’s existence had contributed greatly to the expansion of the possibilities on Weibo. The concept of fan economics was gradually comprehended by others from him. Apparently, this worked even for those who were not famous and supplied no products.
When something came on too quickly and too forcefully, one would easily feel uncomfortable, finding it to be precipitous.
Soon, someone who knew the internal situation of Xingchen Technologies pointed out, “Wildly throwing out funds really is ugly indeed. Xu Tingsheng is losing that stable, practical disposition from when he was developing his education platform.”
Xu Tingsheng thought nonchalantly, “You haven’t yet seen that ‘demented’ era that will arriving in a couple of years! They’ll all be wildly speculating on everything, hoping to strike it rich then.”
What Xu Tingsheng did feel rather guilty about was involving Apple in this. Right, because of how she was working in concert with the promotion of Weibo, Apple’s return appeared rather opportunistic and overly precipitous.
From a business standpoint, this definitely wasn’t a bad thing. Still, this was a negative thing when considering what Apple herself wanted and the way Xu Tingsheng preferred her to live.
In truth, some fans were already beginning to feel resentful.
29th April 2005, 8 o’ clock. The ‘Cen Xiyu’ account that currently had the most fans on Xingchen Technologies’ Weibo left its third post.
This might be the first time in history that a singer released the main song from their new album on social media.
Apple returned as Cen Xiyu’s <<Rebirth>> album’s main song, <Long Time No See>, was posted on Weibo.
The number of views quickly surpassed a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, four hundred thousand…
Actually, <Long Time No See> definitely wouldn’t be the most popular song from the album <<Rebirth>>. The reason why it was the first song was none other than its name and the underlying meaning behind it as it was equivalent to Apple greeting everybody anew.
“Hi, long time no see.”
This sort of feeling was profoundly subtle as it would easily cause one to feel emotional.
Next, Xu Tingsheng had already long since predicted that the full-blown promotion of Weibo might cause people to feel apprehensive. Even as they clicked on this song, they might still be feeling impatient and on edge.
Meanwhile, <Long Time No See> possessed a solitary feel to it.
There was only the feeling of solitude which could bring an end to disquiet and tumult.
Another reason was in the MV.
The MV was shot in black and white, emanating the vibe of an old film.
The gentle opening sequence resounded, causing everyone to fall silent…
Against the black and white backdrop, Apple wore a sleeveless dress which went slightly above her knees. It was plain-coloured, having no patterns or complex embellishments at all. Her hair felt like it had not been carefully handled. There was no intricate makeup on her face at all as she wore simple, rather old-looking white cloth shoes, highlighted against her slender ankles…
Just like that, she walked through streets, alleys, old courtyards, passed by tall buildings and simple houses.
Everything within this city was black and white.
Apple’s vibe had changed. This was what all her fans immediately sensed.
If one said that the former Apple had been a sweet young girl, the current her might be a more invested singer, one who bore greater considerations as she expressed herself more deeply.
This was what the images conveyed.
As Apple opened her mouth, all restlessness faded.
The apprehensiveness from the abruptness, the disquiet from the opportunism...all was dispelled.
“I’ve come here to your city,
Walking roads you walked before,
Thinking about those days without me,
How lonely you must be…”
There wasn’t too much of a change in tone or upheaval in emotions as all was just that mild, the fans seemingly enraptured by the gradual narration of a friend on a journey of searching for that which had been lost. This was a search in which one dared not be too forceful, dared not be too deliberate.
This sort of feeling: I’ve come. I want to meet you, but I’m afraid that you’d be unwilling...if we could meet by chance, how perfectly reasonable it would be...
Once in a while, as Apple’s fans extricated themselves from this narrative, they would marvel at how even the quality of Apple’s voice had changed. While it was wholly impossible for someone to change the way their voice sounded in itself, Apple’s voice had qualitatively changed.
Those who were a bit more professional would discover that Apple’s singing had improved so, so much…
If the former Apple had relied solely on her beautiful appearance and her sweet singing voice along with those songs of Rebirth which really were too good and popular, she could now be considered a true singer.
A singer who had a unique flair to her voice and style to her work.
There was a scene change as the male lead of the music video now made an appearance.
Yet, as the scene changed from one to the other, there was no interaction between him and Apple in the slightest.
There he walked, alone, wearing a woolen sweater and carrying a backpack as he traversed numerous cities.
The camera did not give any close ups, not revealing the full features of the male lead to the audience.
Only those who truly were the most familiar with him would be able to recognise him as Fu Cheng.
The singing continued.
The male lead walked through a small town, standing and gazing not far away from a small campus and mottled school gate for a while before getting on a bus and leaving. Those of the audience might hence remember those small cities where they had grown up, those campuses where they had walked with their friends, their first love in their youth…
And in truth, that was Libei, Libei Senior High, just that it had become blurry and hard to identify in these black and white scenes.
Next was Jiannan City, the slope of the hill, forested paths and old houses behind the hospital…
During her recovery period, Fu Cheng had accompanied her in walking through these places every single day, walking very slowly…
Then came Yanzhou.
“Taking the photos you gave me,
That street which is so familiar,
Just that it no longer has you,
We can’t return to that day…”
Streets, restaurants, cinema, park, mountaintop, seaside…
Fu Cheng walked through all those places they had visited those two blissful days, every single place he had been to with Ms Fang…
Solitary was the figure in the scene, unable to return to that day.
Then came the slow journey of the green train, to a small mountain village, and then...one after another, cities which either were named or not...completely unfamiliar stations, streets, faces…
The scenes changed ceaselessly.
“Will you suddenly appear,
In the coffee shop by the street,
Smiling, I wave, strike up something,
I’ll sit down and chat with you.”
When Apple sang ‘Will you suddenly appear, in the coffee shop by the street’, the camera swept over a coffee shop. Through the glass window by the street, even the audience sitting by their computers could not help but anticipate, hoping that the person being sought could appear.
Yet, there were only pedestrians in the background. Ultimately, no one else showed up.
“How I want to meet with you,
See how things have been recently,
No more about the past, striking up a hello,
Saying one thing, just one thing to you,
Long time no see…”
The final scene was at night, in an unfamiliar city. The male lead sat in the back row of a public bus, leaning sideways against the window. The camera captured his indistinct side profile, that gaze forever fixated on all that was moving by outside.
All the way, all the way till the singing gradually subsided.
Words appeared on the bus window: It’s been over a year. My phone number’s never changed.
These words could not be more cheesy; this male lead had never even revealed his face. Yet, from this image, from him, everyone saw the deepest solitude.
Within this solitude actually also existed the solitude of everyone.
In this music video, Apple was the one singing, while the drama unfolded only with the male lead. He walked ceaselessly, searching, yet all was simply fruitless.
Xu Tingsheng received a call from a sobbing Song Ni who could almost hardly speak, “Xu Tingsheng, I miss Ms Fang so much. But how could she have been so cruel...Fu Cheng...”
Xu Tingsheng feigned nonchalance as he smiled, “That accursed Fu Cheng, it was so hard to convince him. This music video cost me so much money.”
On that same day, in some small city in the southwest, in the staffroom at some small private school, there was someone who watched all those scenes on the computer on the desk. Her heart ached deeply as she wept soundlessly, the tears streaming unceasingly down her face.
Seeing this, her colleagues asked, “Are you okay, Ms Fang?”
“I’m, I’m fine. I’m going back to the dormitory to cook now. If a superior asks, please help me explain it to them,” Fang Yunyao said.
And she took out her phone, hesitated, then put it away again.
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