Weird Things That I Got Used to in China, Part II

Part 2 of my two-part rip off of a Forbes article of a similar name.  Did I mention there are two parts?  This is the second one (of two).

7. The Internet

I’m a freedom-loving American, so the whole idea of the The Great Fire Wall is a great annoyance to me and my values.  It also screws with my mind.  When I first came to China, Facebook still worked but Wikipedia was blocked.  I had never realized how much I actually used Wikipedia to find out random, unimportant information.  When Facebook was blocked, I thought “how can I live without this?”  Turns out it’s pretty easy and I’m considering deleting mine when I go home.  I do understand why certain sites are blocked, but it’s hard to understand the reasoning behind the blockade of sites like Dropbox.

While I’ve been able to wrap my brain around most of the stuff GFW blocks; the self-censorship on Chinese message boards, QQ, and sites like ChinaSmack is far more confusing to me.  ChinaSmack posts so many articles in which Netizens get so hyped up and critical over other people doing the most banal and trivial things, yet was shut down “for maintenance” during the big T-square anniversary in 2009.

8. People on the Internet

When I first found ChinaSmack, I was in awe over how stupid and racist the commenters were on that site.  I’m sure the people who run that site pick the most ridiculous comments to republish just to make it a good read, but they’re really not doing the Netizens favors by translating those comments into English.

Even on expat sites, commenters are so critical of each other.  Some foreigners actually get angry at other foreigners for making observations about China (good examples on Ericka‘s article about Women’s Toilets).

I’d like to point out that when I went back to the states for a week last summer, I realized that it’s not just expats on expat sites that are jerks or Chinese people on Chinese sites that are racist.  There are dumb commenters on every site.  I realized that before ChinaSmack I had just never read blog post comments thoroughly before. Go to YouTube and check out that Chocolate Rain video again.  That dude is still awesome, but you’ll still find some racist idiots commenting on how chocolate that dude is.

9. Spitting

When I first came, I was grossed out by it.  I’ve even met other expats who have assumed that people are trying to spit on them or just trying to be rude.  But after a few months here I realized something, there’s nothing like hawking a good loogie now and then.

10. Staring

It’s just not seen as that rude here.  It used to really annoy me when people actually stopped what they were doing to stare at me when I walked by.  For a while, it really pissed me off.  Now it just bothers me sometimes.

It’s not just foreigners that get the crazy-eye treatment either.  I was in Dalian’s Discovery Kingdom recently with a gorgeous Chinese girl.  I assumed that people would be staring at me since it’s a touristy place and those are usually the places that have the most turned heads because the people aren’t usually from big cities with lots of foreigners.  But people, both men and women, used the same stop-and-stare technique on her and she didn’t even notice!  It made me think, “maybe people aren’t staring at me because I’m foreign.  Maybe I’m just unbelievably hot.”  Thanks for the confidence boost (and beer), Dalian!

11. Same sex physical affection

I know I’m not the only person that came to China and saw all these guys hanging on each other and girls holding hands and thought “Holy crap, there are so many gay people here!” …Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It took some time to learn that Chinese people of the same sex are way more touchy-feely than North Americans.

The constant need for girls to hold hands can be tedious, though.  Especially when you’re running late for class and the three girls walking up the stairs in front of you insist on all holding hands, creating a cute, yet obscenely annoying, barricade.  I once saw four girls on bikes attempt to hold hands with each other to the point that half of them were in oncoming traffic.  I guess their need to touch each other overpowered their need to not be hit by a car.

12. Littering

A lot of people throw a lot of crap on the ground and out their car windows and it sucks.  I have no idea how a people who are generally so patriotic can not care about making their country look shitty.  The creek near my campus is filled with bottles and trash and bags.  Even at Chinese zoos, people throw their rubbish into the animal cages.

It seems like it would be an easy fix too.  Just have some PSAs with some famous dudes saying “If you love China, throw your crap in a trash can”  Then have video of Mao crying on the side of the road because someone threw a food container out of his car.  It’s done.  No more littering.

13. Ghosts

A Chinese friend of mine once told me about a building in her hometown that had to be demolished because a few people died during its construction.  It turns out that despite the fact that this was some new, architecturally interesting, multi-million yuan business center, no one would buy space in it because they thought it was haunted by the ghosts of the construction workers.  The developer was forced to tear down the building and build the exact same structure on the exact same site.  I’ve also been told by multiple Chinese coworkers that many Chinese people would refuse to buy a previously owned apartment on the off-chance that the prior resident died in it.

If I come back to China, I plan to go into the ghostbusting business.  I bet I could make a ton of money as long as my colleagues and I don’t cross the streams (or do, depending on the evilness and power of the ghost at hand).  I’ll probably end up re-animating one of those Mao statues to fight off a bunch of demonic Terracotta warriors.