Like you “discovered” there are two Shanghai’s. I don’t mean Puxi and Pudong split by the Huangpu River – but a Shanghai for the Haves, and one for the Have Nots. You may have recently realized it – but you’re too late to break the story, trust me.
I realize that sometimes a person is just showing off his Real China Experience™ and having a bit of fun. And it can be frustrating to see others living well and making China look, well, a hell of a lot easier.
But the Expat Stereotype thing has me thinking:
Not to pick on anyone, but I doubt any longer-term expats are impressed by passing stereotypes – of expats or others.
I’ve heard all these stereotypes before, dozens of times, usually from temps or newbs. It sucks when you set out to “discover China” – and discover you’re too late.
Maybe that’s what makes the occasional expat want to pigeonhole other expats into a handful of negative archetypes. You’ll see some giving the stinkeye to other expats who steal their thunder just by walking down the street. That’s the real sin of the Shanghai expat population, isn’t it – there are others here, and that dilutes the spotlight. I’d go so far as to describe some of them as living in their own bubble, a bubble of one.
I’m not even mentioning the plethora of ill-founded stereotypes locals have of any or all expats.
I do wish I had a kuai for every time someone has “discovered” expat archetypes:
- The Executive
- The Backpacker
- The English Teacher
- The Entrepreneur
- The Vagabond Artist
- The Trailing Spouse
- The Kung Fu Wannabe
- The Exchange Student
- The Next Big Thing
I’ve even read expat magazine articles to this effect.
Here’s an archetype: a “Culture Diva.” Someone who’s going to tie up the entire 143,200 Shanghai expat population with a dismissive little bow. Yeah, real original!
What they have yet to do is actually get to know people to discover they are, in fact, all living different stories. That takes more experience than you can get as a JAFO on an Overpass™.
Although it’s not for me, I try not to begrudge anyone who’s managed to create a little bubble of sanity in an irrational, scarcity-minded society.
Just like I try not to begrudge backpackers; even as they degrade my industry value with lousy character, lowball fees, and revolving-door unreliability. Not to mention their reinforcement of negative stereotypes that have regularly made my work a royal pain in the pedicab cushion.
This humorous defamation has real roots and repercussions for people who need economic cooperation – the Chinese themselves, despite the Pollyanna narrative – yet sabotage their own international efforts by assuming the stereotypes of “Expats as T̶r̶a̶n̶s̶i̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶S̶u̶c̶k̶e̶r̶s̶ Opportunities” always hold true.
Transients can transit on out; others will be here tomorrow living out the results of today’s ignorant reinforcements.
You can talk about people like they are a joke – but in a country’s economic center, it is the JAFO who is the non-influential, passing fart joke. Smell thyself.
Now, anyone have any new business ideas “nobody’s ever tried?”
It’s a huge market just waiting to be tapped!
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