Book 2: Living in Shanghai, China
The compelling effect of social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on) in the digital era has lured millions of people to start and sustain an account. Users can observe friends’ and followers’ snapshots as they evolve throughout the days, months, and years. Posting eye-catching images consisting of pinpoints, travel destinations, or random things in a person’s day-to-day life continues to flow in news feeds. People on social media are consciously and subconsciously intrigued with the latest buzz. Receiving notifications of admiration (likes, hearts, comments, shares, or follows) is like shots of dopamine running through veins, causing the spirit to enhance in an ascending direction. We share stuff regularly, occasionally, or rarely. If our account is idle, then we are probably observing, to some extent, unless we went cold turkey or are missing in action. Instant gratification can become addictive like coffee, alcohol, narcotics, sex, or pornography. However, life isn’t always what it seems online through a phone screen and computer monitor. The person taking the pic(s) or selfie(s) has another tale of the tape. In Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, he discusses two mental components experienced by humans: Yin (order) and Yang (chaos). What our eyes mostly see in social media feeds are depictions of order (smiles, enjoyment, contentment, or happiness). When the posts stop, it could mean that some chaos (twists and turns) has surfaced in events happening behind the scenes. Chaos (confusion, deception, betrayal, a false sense of hope, broken promises, and so on) can trigger wanting to break bad or abandon ship if the inner demon outweighs willpower. On the other hand, when problems and setbacks are viewed opportunistically and creatively rather than negatively, they can inspire us to head toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Order and chaos will manifest throughout our lifespan regardless of where we are in the world. The mental tug of war can make or break us. Despite how lucrative something sounds (new or upcoming), challenges, including figuring things out, are inevitable. The Twists and Turns of Living in Shanghai consist of two and a half years (January 2017 to June 2019) in China's largest city in mainland China. We’ll encounter the trials and tribulations (both conventional and unconventional), which textbooks and colleges don’t prepare us to wrestle. In fact, there’s more Yang (chaos) compared to Yin (order). Keep in mind that this book doesn’t contain scholarly research from peer-reviewed articles. I don’t claim to know the nuts and bolts of the Shanghai way of life either. I’m truthfully sharing the facts of what I encountered and saw with sober goggles. If stories about quitting a job to experience wanderlust or preaching the perks of living abroad are what you're craving, well, you won't find it here. Now if reading stuff that makes eyebrows raise, to say, "What the f***?" and causes some chuckles along the way is your cup of tea, then I welcome you to taste my batch. We'll explore the other side of the coin: the things we don't see or hear about on social media posts. In this modern China book, it's the twists and turns of living overseas with twenty-four million people in Shanghai. On January 3, 2017, I hit the reset button on my life in sunny California and relocated to Shanghai, China due to a new job. My freshman year in mainland China began in July 2013. For six months, I worked and resided in Langfang, an isolated and developing region in North China where more than ninety percent of the locals didn’t know English. My apartment was untraceable on Google Maps, and it didn’t have a numerical street address. I share the experience in 180 Days Abroad with the Chinese Locals: What Textbooks and Classrooms Don’t Tell Us About China. Before we dive into living in Shanghai, let’s explore how things unfolded going to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the second time by going back in time to the summer of 2015.