Shanghai Analysis: Steel erections & psychological connections

You may choose to be careful with your words, particularly when dealing with a backwards or ‘developing’ society.

Why? Because backwards or ‘developing’ societies cannot take criticism.

Why not? Because they are backwards. Or developing.

And this means that they have not developed one thing which is very well accepted as an advanced and intelligent capacity: the capacity to accept criticism.

Developing societies instead fear criticism, because to them it is never related to constructive advice, but instead related to blame and scapegoating.

Constructive advice needs thought and intellect to accept — to accept that a comment is not a personal attack on you as an individual, but a thought or idea that may actually help and improve the project or plan.

Scapegoating and blaming makes stupid people feel good (unless it is directed at them – anyone else is fair game) because it is a quick and simplistic way of organising things into two clear categories of good and bad. Something which is also backwards.

And —- all of which is not a criticism!

It is merely an observation. Which developing societies cannot accept, lest it be mistaken (and oh, it will be) as criticism and therefore blame and scapegoating.

(Ah, God bless the atheistic and human reasoning that allows social development, as opposed to tradition or in some cases devotion to ancient scripture.)

As already concluded; this is not a criticism.

It’s just a recognisation of the place in which we live: for better or for worse, we accept it for what it is.

Although what this can impact on, from simple theory to scary reality, is the real life and experiences that you have.

This means that if you are an expat here, then you may not simply filter in to the accepted total-materialism and treat-based crutch which is the current macro-social Shanghai lifestyle: using modern conveniences and ‘creature comforts’ as methods of escapism away from the reality that there is simply a dearth, a rarity of nature, art, soul, the alternative or creative in this city currently.

Does this aspect become a group-accepted personality of the city? Does this base element of Shanghai trickle into the minds of people living here, thus inducing an only-hedonistic lifestyle with which expats can therefore join in the chase for a quick RMB, which is then to be quickly spent on eating, drinking and equally speedy and connection-less sexual encounters?

Yes, of course it does.

People will become to be the same as the place they live in. They will take on aspects of their locations personality.

(and once again … not a criticism, just an acceptance)

But what if you disagree, what if you are one of those people built to take the opposing view, and want to (completely incorrectly and naively) try and tell me about the “nature, art, soul, the alternative or creative” in this city?

Then you are being incorrect and/or naive. Firstly because this is not a criticism and therefore there is no need for any defense or opposition (if you would like to write a thesis on an alternative opinion then you are indeed free to do so), but mostly because it would be incorrect: in most ‘cities’ in the World that are truly known as ‘cities’, then there are simply so many more — so, so many more — aspects to the city so that inhabitants with free time can think “I know, we’ll go to … ” and then come up with an answer that is NOT “the shopping malls”.

And again (I can keep clarifying this without tire), this is not a criticism because it is accepted that Shanghai is indeed developing. That means it is ‘not quite there yet’ – not really a ‘city’ to the scale of others in the World. However: it currently shows no signs whatsoever of being anything other than an enormous landscape of shopping malls and offices. Every single project, be it the absolutely huge developments on:

– Nanjing West road

– Xinzha road

– Wanping road and the entire riverside area

– Hongqiao hub

– South Bund

– North of Lujiazui

– South of Lujiazui

– and many more

is solely centred on ‘not green space’, but more enormous erections of steel and glass, in which mainly foreign-owned brands can sell their products to more-than-willing consumers.

Which … … rather than a criticism from a nobody foreigner, is just a look at how things are progressing.

I would never dare to be one of those laowai twats that thinks they have any say whatsoever in this city. They don’t, because just choosing to live here and do the basic takes of human existence in no way confers any authority or stake in control or decision.

What I am rather looking at (eventually) is this:

How sub-consciously taking on the personality of the place in which you live can therefore affect your psychology and therefore your life in the both the short term and the long term.

How does this affect you if you are not one of the expats who simply filters in to the macro-accepted status quo of life from Monday to Sunday?

How would you, could you, then make real and true human connections, by which you may have real and true, human experiences during your life spent in Shanghai?

Thus (and hence), this is a psychological issue and problem that some people do face here.

It infects the way people deal with each other, pervades throughout professional and personal interactions, and colours the trust and mis-trust that otherwise normal and decent people have toward each other.

Good-time friends, alcohol-fueled occasions and pre-used photo-poses should not be taken as real life.

If that is the most human connection or real experience that you are having, then there will be little to hold on to later in life, as you review how you spent your time on Earth. You won’t live in Shanghai for that long, and even if you do, you will still depart for somewhere else. So at that time you leave, when you are in that last VW taxi ride to Pudong airport, what connections will you be able to look back on?

Even if you made ‘good friends’, will they really be lasting? Did you have a relationship that will really take place as a building block in your overall life?

Should you have any of this? I don’t know, I’m not definitively advocating nor advising anything. Different people want different things. I like to simply look at the different options that people have here. So though I accept that, because of what I have mentioned above, there is certainly a trend in Shanghai which is not toward ‘the real’, then maybe you should still continually ensure that you are doing what you can to persevere in finding the real human connections out there. That even though you may meet 99 people who are happy to think of sipping alcohol in a room of other people who are also sipping alcohol as a ‘great night’, you may meet 1 person who still has the ability to help you to learn and have a genuine life experience.


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Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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