Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Than One Misnomer

You know there's no Facebook in China and for that matter, no Twitter and well they all ride bikes and there's no foreign news...right? China, naturally is still closed to the "Western" ways of the world. And if you believed all of this, you couldn't be more wrong.

On each return trip home I would get questions about the life and times of the people behind the Great Wall and how it felt to live in such a different place and each time I opened my mouth to speak I felt like saying "it feels more like home, than home" which is something no one wants to hear.  After all, I'm American and I should be exuberant about it but perhaps I'm a bit ho-hum and a large bit of someone who needs to live it to believe it because we can talk all damn day about what it's like over there but there is nothing quite as life like as living over there.

The questions never cease to amaze me and the news media in the US never cease to produce rich propaganda about China and while there may be a grain of truth in some of it most (yes, pollution is bad) most seems to be a bit overblown and takes measures to promote the American way over everyone else's way...especially those in Communist China...because after all...the Communists are bad, aren't they? 

Shoot, if all Communists are bad then I have done a terrible job reading people over the last few years.  In fact some of the most interesting, caring and wonderful people (lots of women) I have met have helped to create that sense of "home".  These are the people in my neighborhood who helped me to find the best price on veggies, rice and to find the local police station. These are the people who have nothing yet give my children small pieces of candy and little bits of things they think we would like to have.  They sit down with me over a beer in the street and try very hard to teach me Shanghainese. They introduce me to their family with a very proud "this is my American friend". They are curious about us in the most educational and endearing ways.

Do they have Facebook? Yep. But you'll need a VPN to access it and as of yesterday no VPN needed. People Twitter but they have their own called Weibo which is quite popular. Lots of people drive cars...but cars are still new in the last 20 years. And yes, the regular news content is managed by the government but you know what, so is the news here, but we can get that programming too.

So go ahead and think China is some weird place that people can't live a caring, normal, bordering on excessively modern life and you'll be setting yourself up to live in the dark ages.

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