Here’s my first observation: I haven’t used Twitter for the last month and Facebook for the last two weeks, and have observed a clear improvement in my personal quality of life. I’m less concerned with “creating” and “capturing” moments - just the moment itself. The flip from living to recording has been a very subtle one that started in high school when Facebook started to get big - but now that I’m on essentially a government-enforced hiatus do I realize how unhealthy this constant checking, updating, and social preening is.
I’ve also stopped posting to my main Instagram and have started up a private one - has also been infinitely more enjoyable as I’ve gotten to post up dozens of pictures of my grandparents and dad. This I would have felt too self-conscious to post otherwise because I don’t think that people who follow me on Instagram would really enjoy looking at 10 pictures of my family in a row (which is why I don’t normally post people on Instagram).
So if this Tumblr post gets too long and annoying and
Teenage Girl Overly Verbose Young Adult-y, sorry about that. Value-creation through blogging is no longer my primary goal, as I just enjoy journaling and keeping in touch with friends this way. Feel free to unsubscribe - I won’t be upset! I’m going to spend more time doing longer form free writes instead of shorter, more concise and thoughtful posts. The result will be an increase in rambles and decrease in overall usefulness. You have been warned, design friends (you know what’s better than reading my blog? Getting coffee and having real conversations :)).
Anyway, here are some observations of China I’ve made in the last week. First, annoying things:
- Chinese drivers are actually generally very skilled - more so, I’d say, than their American counterparts largely because driving in China is so much more difficult and requires a far higher level of alertness (the parking situation in particular is horrendous). The difference here, though, is that Chinese drivers are far less courteous resulting in more dangerous situations - merging on a crowded street is downright impossible if you’re not bumper-threateningly aggressive, for instance.
(I make this observation because I have been driving the last few days and probably have like five new grey hairs as a result. Just look at that terror (below) - this probably was taken when the car almost directly horizontal to mine started merging in my lane without any prior warning).
- There is a weird conversational pull between scolding and meekness here. Most born-in-China Chinese people I have met in my entire lifetime can be very critical and almost fussy if the relational context allows for it in conversation (ie. extended family, family friends, business associates, etc). But something I’m realizing is that if you argue back (given that you’re right), people almost retreat immediately. It’s very weird. Hopefully they’re not actually thinking: “stupid American” in their head.
- The most ironic thing I’ve observed so far was at the Buddhist temple we went to yesterday on Buddha Island - it was so incredibly crowded and people were literally pushing each other aside to pray. It goes without saying, it seems fairly obvious to me that if you want to be a better person, you should probably not literally push my grandma aside so that you can kneel in front of a giant gold statue of Buddha.
- Kids (incl. 21 year olds) are fairly well-coddled here, largely as a result of the One Child Policy. I have also really enjoyed visiting during Chinese New Year - tis the season of red envelopes and the most incredible food. Today we had all you can eat order off the menu seafood at the best sushi restaurant in Hangzhou… mmm…
- The yuan has significantly appreciated against the dollar in the last decade. I remember dividing by 8, then 7, now 6 to convert Chinese prices in my head. The good news is that I saved a lot of yuan previously - and will continue to keep my yuan as yuan for future visits. On the flip side, my Ethiopian money that I forgot to exchange and none of the at least seven international airports I’ve visited in the time since accept Birr, which has most definitely depreciated! Grr.
(Unfortunately, anything the people shop for is now far more expensive in China than it is in the US - clothing, shoes, makeup, cars. Hurray, consumption.)
- Time with grandma. :)
Tuesday, February 12 2013