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Life Before Facebook


Chengdu, July 14, 2013

My most favorite documentary series have always been “Mankind: The Story of All of Us”. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve glued my eyes on the flat screen, attention undivided, to learn about the events and periods in history that have drastically changed the destiny of mankind. From gold, gun powder, to the printing press; from Africa’s Golden Age, China’s red turban revolution, to the European Renaissance; it is amazing how the world’s power has simply been re-shuffled by some events and people. One thing for sure though, I’ve never felft the effect of these grand events on my daily life….

The last 15 days in China, however, has taught me a practical lesson on the effect of Facebook upon mankind. Mind you! I am hopeless at social media and FB is more of a channel for me to keep my family & friends informed of my whereabouts. With the average amount of 3 weeks per month on the road, this virtual broadcasting channel does work out pretty well for this restless traveller. What do you know? FB is exclusive in China. There are certainly no shortages of such luxury brands as Gucci, LV, Ferrari, Armani, Massimo Dutti…. Ad no where else in the world have I seen such massive showrooms of the iconic Apple brand like they are here in every tier 1 and 2 cities in China. Capitalism has definitely been slotted into a giant red hongbao (Chinese lucky money packet) of this country. Freedom is in the air! Everyone rushes out to shop. Sales is always on. From Huahai Road in Shanghai to Wangfujing in Beijing; from Xinjiekou in Nanjing to Zongfu Street in Chengdu, all one can see are people selling, buying, eating, and buzzing around under flashy neon lights. What’s there for me, the solo traveller in my beloved land of ancient wisdom, except for the need to feel connected and to share my experiences with family and friends? If only I could exchange that high-end, noise-polluted shopping alley with a comment from my sister!

Once and still a huge fan of hand-written letters, greeting cards, postcards, and personal notes, I do find it beyond comprehension how such a basic needs of belonging in the digital age gets taken away amidst the flourishing of Chinese consumerism.

What’s there to hide? Don’t you get it? Life is never the same after facebook….

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