Does China Turn You Into a Jerk?
You know you’ve done it (if you’ve been here long enough). Kept Grandma back when she tries to cut in front of you in KFC. Forced your way out of the subway car in a less than polite way to push your way through masses of people. Cursed at the shop keeper who grabbed your arm one too many times.
Things you might not have dreamed of before coming to China. But you do them to stand up for yourself and people are doing the same thing to you so it’s okay, right?
You’re a Stranger, You Don’t Matter
This is the philosophy of many people in China – including many foreigners who have been here for a while. You can see it in the way people treat each other on the streets. Or with the bleeding bicyclist who isn’t helped until the police come.
In China, if you’re a stranger, you don’t matter. This applies even more to Chinese people than foreigners – while as a foreigner you will be treated with slightly more respect than the next guy or girl, you will still encounter a lot of behavior that comes off as just plain rude.
Crossing the Line
If you’ve lived in China for any significant length of time, your thought process on what is or is not acceptable behavior to strangers will most likely change. If you’ve been here several years and haven’t changed a bit, either you live in a sheltered world or you are a saint.
You also probably wouldn’t question it if I told you that lowering your shoulder, intentionally ramming into someone, or cutting in line yourself is the behavior of a true jerk.
But such behavior begs the question – where is the line between jerk and normal? And how many people come to China as nice guys or girls and end up acting like jerks to strangers?
What Do You Think?
This post is more full of questions than answers – so it would be great if you could take a stab at this question below. I’ve got my own thoughts on it hinted at in the post above, but would rather hear your perspective first.