Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Frightening Look into the Future

A recent article in a state-run newspaper interviewed a professor asking him why many believed the post 1980s generation in China were slackers.

He gave many reasons, most of which pointed to the family situation: When you have two parents and four grandparents doting on one child, the chances of the kid being coddled and lazy are very high.

The professor explained since so many people were looking after the child, he or she was so used to having everything done for them that there was no need to excel or be determined to achieve something.

This is also further enhanced when these only children become adults.

Their first few jobs earn them very little money, and so they depend on their parents for stipends, or even to buy them cars or apartments in the hopes of making them more eligible for marriage.

And even if they get married, the parents still dote on their children, helping out the newlyweds, from giving them more spending money, to buying groceries for them or even cooking and cleaning for them.

When will these kids ever grow up? Or rather when will these parents let their children grow up?

Many seem to have few goals in life. I know of a girl in her early 20s who quit university and started working in a restaurant, finding it more stimulating than going to class. Her parents didn't seem to mind as she was bringing home some money for them.

I have other ex-colleagues whose parents continue giving them allowances because they can't seem to budget their monthly salary and have fun at the same time. While they complain about their low-income situation, they have little or no motivation to try to get ahead, even if I offer to help them.

And then there are those who are looking to escape altogether.

Soon after I arrived in China I met a young man, Lin in his early 30s. He is currently working in a state-owned enterprise, having a desk job he doesn't particularly like, but he's good at it with his pretty decent English skills.

The nerdy-looking man married a slightly younger woman who wears trendy clothes and is the more vivacious of the two. They have a small apartment they bought beyond the Fifth Ring Road and a small car to boot.

Lin was keen on studying abroad and asked me which were the best universities in the United States and Canada, but I had to ask him to study a post-graduate in what?

He didn't care -- he just wanted to apply to the best schools and see where he would be accepted in order to determine what he would study.

This backwards method didn't make sense and I explained that it was better for him to have some kind of interest first and then find the best schools to pursue that subject.

I didn't seem to give him the guidance he wanted and dropped the subject.

I heard back from him a few months ago, telling me he'd been accepted for a program in business in London, England, starting in September.

We had dinner recently and our mutual friend told me Lin and his wife had sold their apartment and were ready for the next chapter in their lives.

"I don't know what they are doing," our friend said to me after dinner. "They're crazy."

As Lin and his wife have been married for a few years, and don't have children, perhaps they are trying to escape the pressures of having to complete the family circle temporarily, or the burdens of parental pressures, or hoping they can escape China completely.

While they will definitely have an eye-opening experience living in a western country and learn more about themselves and what they want, will that be a means to an end?

However, their situation is probably better than those of the younger generation, who are so used to being coddled that if the wheel ain't broke, why fix it?


Airchild said...

What a pathetic generation!

gung said...

this is a problem with the 2nd generation. life is too easy for them. japan is a good example. china needs to reinvigorate the old doctrines , the old social values. education is the key.