Wechat has increasingly reshaped our personal lives and seems to allow us to reconnect with our long lost friends. But, as Nancy Jin writes, the decades long of different life trajectory creates a huge cultural and political gap between friends living in different parts of the world.
Wechat has changed the world. Wechat has made the world smaller. Wechat has brought back lost friends.
Within a week, I, a person is always mocked by my kids for being an anti-social with no friends, have joined fourWechat groups – two with relatives and two with school mates.
The excitement of reconnecting with my long lost high school classmates was beyond written expression.
Those are the friends to whom we poured out our true and pure hearts in the most innocent years. Together we fought the most challenging academic battle: Gao Kao. We shared the joys of being the top 4%. Back then, we frequently dropped by each other’s home uninvited, and we let the tears flow as we parted for different universities across the country. This genuine friendship had dominated our lives for years until the daily grind pushed it to the backseat.
I had lost contact with them when I came to Canada – and that was 23 years ago! Schools, work and family have taken priority over friendship, and those friends had gradually become remote history.
But two decades later, as I established my life in Canada, the image of old friends have constantly emerged in my memories – the boy I envied as a the top essay writer, and the very talented girl I fought with to win the heart of our math teacher. The academic award winner who failed Gao Kao due to excessive stress, and the very ambitious boy forced to drop out from top-notched university due to depression.
Streaming tears blocked my sight as these images appeared in my mind. Undoubtedly, Wechat allows me to share all these memories as I was rapidly typing on the keyboard, talking with the reconnected old friends. I want my friends across the ocean to share my excitement, hoping that these moments of re-connection are as powerful to me as they are to them.
A family picture I posted on Wechat has sent a wave of flatteries:
“Ah, your son is such a handsome young man!”
“Wow! You have such a happy family!”
But undoubtedly, the decades long of different life trajectory creates a huge cultural and political gapgap between us. We are no-longer the innocent youths three decades later. Living most part of our lives in different parts of the world, we have different life experiences, share different political opinions and most importantly, different cultural values.
I’ve repeatedly received a link to a video sent by different friends in China, seeking my comments on it. The video showed a strong sense of patriotism towards a one-party, non-democratic regime, which I have little interest or enthusiasm for.
But despite this strong sense of nationalism, China--with its economic prosperity--is now grappling with a moral vacuum and massive corruption.As a gold rush sweeps through the country, I believe that the nation has succumbed to greed, and has become obsessed with materialism. The constant pursuit of money has stopped the nation from following its political and religious passion. As Xi Jinping tries to strength its authority, it has brainwashed a country with government propaganda.
But I reluctantly disclose my views to them. Could they be materialists, judging a person’s success based on luxury cars or mansion that one owns? Or could they be brain washed by the government, and holding a callous attitude towards freedom, democracy or political independence, the matters I value the most?
I treaded carefully as I typed. I tried to avoid the likely divergent topics that involve personal status, material desires and sticky political issues because I don’t want these differences to take anything away from the powerful moments of our reunification.
So I chose not to comment on the link sent to me. I believe that the life we shared together belonged to the past, and my values and opinions which have been formed through my life in the West, cannot find its place in this Wechat group -- friends from the hometown that I uprooted three decades ago.
As I packed up my thoughts and signed off from the Wechat groups, I clicked another social site where my life experience, values and political stance have found roots.
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