Society and conformity

Two weeks ago I got my first (and only) break from work, so I decided that it was time to see bits of China and meet some other foreigners. At that time, I just could not handle Chinese anymore. I was teaching my boss’s kids every day which meant spending the whole day in their filthy apartment and never really having a break from social interactions (which usually means lots of smiling, interpreting and not knowing what really is going on). Plus there was this girl that followed me EVERYWHERE but later on that. All in all, I was super pumped to have a break and be inspired by other expat love for China.

Assumptions can be wrong. I was wrong. In Shanghai, I stayed with a Brit who has lived in China for 9 years. He was teaching adults. Teaching adults sounds much more exciting than teaching toddlers – conversations, insights and etc., but it wasn’t exciting for him. Nor was it exciting for him to live in China really. After our conversations, my whole spirit just sank down even lower. What I learned from him is that Chinese don’t think for themselves. It is an extremely obedient society that is taught to conform to whatever the higher ups are saying – would it be their parents, teachers, bosses or the government.

How come all this happened? Lithuanians too (and every nation really) listen to their parents and teachers. Yes, but not to such extent. A great illustration is Chinese education model. It is based on rote learning. You just repeat and repeat whatever is said and it eventually gets in your head. There isn’t much of your own thinking in such a method. No so called critical thinking. What it does is that it creates a society of people who don’t really have their own opinions. I often ask my English speaking colleague millions of questions why something is done this or that way, why a class is cancelled and so on. Often she does not know. Often, I guess, she just makes things up (to save her face). And once she said to me  – ‘just accept things the way they are’. How on earth???!! I don’t know how people can live this way. I guess I am slowly becoming like this – I start to care less. After all – ‘vienas lauke ne karys’.  Anyway…

This morning I had only one class, so I decided to read on China a bit and I came across an article that was telling how China Daily was distorting the information on Peter Hessler’s interview. (you can google that or go to Peter Hessler’s Fb page). Not to say that propaganda does not happen in the West, but this is just ridiculous – too obvious. To top it up – most of the media in China is state-owned, internet censored. or what the reporters Without Borders say “the world’s biggest prison for journalists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents” from BBC report on China’s media. Somewhere else I was reading about recent restrictions on Western media in China. What can I add to this – make your own conclusions.

It would be interesting to speak Chinese and get to know more educated people. But who knows if that would yield much success. The major urbanisation in China happened over the last 30 years. Peasants in the cities so to speak.

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