PERSONAL NOTE: I DECIDED to share my book with many friends and students in China because the book is not available in mainland China. It costs too much to order it from USA. Enjoy it and share it. Steve, USA, december 21, 2018 firstname.lastname@example.org https://getting2knowyou-china.com
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Benny came to use a computer in a computer room on the campus. “I am a freshman on the campus and I do not have a laptop now, may I use a computer here?” he asked me, ready to sit down by a computer. What an honest voice! I was happy that someone still believed in Honesty is the best policy.
Within a relatively short period of time, I would learn that in China, some younger and modern parents would expose their children, boys or girls, at a very young age, as young as 7 or 8 years, to computers. I remember visiting a student in a mid-size town and one day I was very curious to visit one of the so-called computer or internet bars or internet cafes, which exist all over China, as ubiquitous as KFC stores or noodle shops everywhere you turn in China. In fact another student told me that he lived in a village so small he had no internet connections and that the only way he could communicate with the “outside” world during the holidays when he was home was to go to the nearest internet bar. And the only way for him to speak English was to talk to himself, he said, there was nobody with whom he could practice his English. So I had a chance to visit an internet bar. What I saw inside this dark room, like inside a small movie theater, with horrible smell—of bodies and snacks and foods—and smoke, was the shocking presence of pre-teens and teenagers who were there to use the computers.
Yes, there were young people as young as 8 or 9 years old, busy staring at the screens playing computer games. They were so transfixed you could set a fire and they would not blink. Yes, there were those who were there because their parents had forbidden them to have a personal computer at home. Yes, some parents refused to have a computer because of poverty or because they had read a lot in the mass media about the dangers of children exposed to the computers. I read at least one student tried to poison his parents—they survived—because they had objected to his continued use of the computer for games. And many other horror stories about how youth tried to silent the objections of their parents. Yes, in fact many high schools do not allow students to own a computer or have one in school. Yes, no one can stop any youngster from going to a computer bar somewhere to do what they want to do. Yes, there were some young people there to watch Japanese sex movies. Many started—my students told me—as young as in primary schools, indulging in sex movies. Now in college, they had no taste for it, like eating too much of a favorite snack. Yes, there were heart-breaking stories in the news of how some parents were so desperate to cure their only child of computer addiction and how some unscrupulous institutions would use inhumane or unscientific methods to try to cure this addiction, ending, in some cases death of
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young men sent there for treatment. Yes, there are age limits or length of time allowed the youngsters who use these places; most times the operators are too busy making money and ignore all the rules.
Yes, China obviously does not have enough law enforcement officers to check the computer bars. A favorite topic in many speech contests or essay writing competitions in China is: The pros and cons of modern technology, like the use of computers or the cell phones or social networks. One student on my campus was found dead because he was playing so much computer games that he had neglected to eat or sleep. Not to mention being absent from his classes. I wonder what many parents would think or do if only they knew many of their sons—a few girls—are not attending classes at all. They are enjoying life on the campuses all over China, playing computer games day in day out. This is no laughing matter in China because of the widespread addiction all over the country; because too many parents are too eager to expose their children to the use of the computers at an early age.
That is why computer literacy is very high in China. Everyone who is anyone has access to a computer, if not in your own home or in high schools, you can go to your friend’s house, or to the nearest internet cafe. Most parents want their only child to survive and to succeed in an ever expanding competitive world. This is modern China, not the China of Chairman Mao Zedong. This new China is about 40 years old since the opening-up policies of Deng Xiaoping in the early 80s. Especially after the demise of Chairman Mao. If asked, most parents would be proud to tell you, I want my child to succeed in the new world. They might not say blatantly that I have plenty of money to spend on my only child. Though that is absolutely true.
The middle class phenomenon is growing very fast in China, something Chairman Mao would not have encouraged. There was only one class in Chairman Mao’s communist thinking: the working class. That is why during the Cultural Revolution, the landlords and the rich were punished severely by the Red Guards. Imagine your own blood, your own sons and daughters turning you in to the communist government. In fact, many did just that. Children turning against parents. Friends against friends. Workers against their bosses. Neighbors against neighbors. Relatives against relatives. Students against teachers and college professors. It was a chaotic world then. A world gone mad. Now the nouveau riche flaunt their wealth like male birds with their colorful feathers dancing to attract the females. And they are not shy about spending money to give their young “emperors” the very best their money could buy. There was a story circulating in China that a man deliberately allowed strangers to cheat him out of money just to see how far the thieves would go. A billionaire went to America and gave away money to complete strangers to advertise his wealth. And another one who
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was a nobody and now he is somebody because of the enormous wealth he has accumulated buying expensive ancient and modern art to show all the Chinese he has the wealth to do it, someone who is uncultured and lacks elegance and education to appreciate the finer things of life. This is China. And the new generation is spending money like the unending flow of water from the mountains.
Most Chinese students know the computer, in and out, and a foreigner would be simply astounded at the speed most students could use the internet to do what they want, more quickly and efficiently than a drill master could instruct the new recruits to follow his directions or directives. I am talking about non-computer major students. That was my first impression of young college students and their incredible ability to master the computer. One student accepted a fee from a female student to build a website for her. And he did it literally by learning how to build a website step by step by reading the directions online. He did it, with absolute confidence. He was very proud to inform me, but he failed to win her love. And if I should ask for assistance for my computer, a million would volunteer to come to my aid. They would do it without hesitation. Because I am a foreign teacher in China. One student, Jake, a brilliant young graduate in computer science, in fact used the remote control a few times to help me solve some problems with my computer. Because he was busy doing his own studies and work.
I do not need to tell you, this same knowledge and ability to master the computer have led many to be addicted to computer games, something both the parents and the government are trying hard to come to their rescue. But many refused to be helped and this new opium is crippling many young people from attending classes and achieving their dreams of a good career and future. Computers are literally ruining the lives of many students in the campuses today. This is becoming a sad chapter of technological advancement in China, severe addiction to computers and computer games and cell phones. What will it take to conquer this problem? Another new technology, I guess, and the cycle of addiction and self-destruction will continue, only a mighty earthquake could terminate this behavior, like the ones that just happened in Nepal. Eventually, Benny bought his own computer. And I did the same. I love the desktop computers, with bigger screens and the keyboard.
On the other hand, China Daily, just published a few articles recently—June 2015—praising the post-90’s young people in China and their incredible successes launching new e-commerce businesses using the internet and the government is saying loudly that they would come to their aid, especially those young graduates who want to start new businesses. The potential is there, the get rich mentality that started in the 80s
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with Deng Xiaoping continues to find expressions 40 years later. There is a definite shift away from manufacturing to the service industry in China and top Party leaders are encouraging young people to be creative and innovative and that the government is there to help them to achieve their internet endeavors. Perhaps the good outweighs the bad in the world of the internet and the ever expanding e-commerce. Alibaba is one of thousands who are busy selling products and services online across China.
Computer and e-commerce are the engines behind today’s China economic prosperity.
This is China.