Sorry, it’s been a while since last time I updated. I didn’t mean to take this long to finish this one, but things just kept popping up all the time!
The I-Don’t-Know-You-That-Much-Code was first noticed on my Facebook account.
The thing is, there is a twin website called Renren.com in China. Since Facebook has been blocked in MainlanChina, the RenRen is quite popular here. And if you have a Facebook page, you will know where to check out how many “Friends” a person has on Facebook. I did a very simple survey today (Actually I’m afraid it is not even qualified as a survey, it only cost me 10 minutes..), I picked out 8 random people on Facebook and Renren each, then calculate the average number of “Friends” for the two websites. The results show that Facebook scores high by 792.5 “Friends”/person, while Renren only has 407.2“Friends”/person.
Well..This “survey” is obviously biased, due to the number of sample size and the manual selection method. But it is a fact that Chinese people have a narrower circle when it comes to friends. And I believe one of the reason contributing to this fact is that Chinese people don’t get close to others that easily. It takes extra efforts to shorten that distance in between. You may argue that most Chinese are pretty friendly and warm hearted, yes they are. They will give you a full explanation of how the Seven-day National Holiday works, they will give you a ride home after a late working night ends, they might even volunteer taking care of your cats when you are planning to travel for a long time. But let’s face it, what is really going on under that fancy “CARPET”?
Ok, let’s take a look at how many ways a Chinese can make a new friend:
People I know from University: This one could be easier since universities are basically where youth catch up with peers. But under this scenario, the new guy has to be REPEATEDLY presented to us before we enter a new contact in our phones.. Ie. The two are both stuck in same research groups or study activities, thus have to endure all the painful tasks or celebrate any success they manage to achieve.
People from Work: Normally, people from work are ALWAYS people from work. You don’t want them to mess up with your careers by spreading out who’s your one night stand last weekend. But there are exceptions, you can meet your best buddy in the bathroom while trying to sneak out having a cigarette. Generally speaking, you should always put up some guards for your colleagues. Among Chinese, it’s more than just true. I’ve been told more than 5 times by different people that I should keep a certain distance from colleagues. Bleeding examples of confronting a passive-aggressive colleague are countless. Since colleagues are going to work together on an everyday basis, it is required be friendly above the “carpet”.
People from Clubs/Bars/Pubs: I have to say: Most Chinese don’t go to these places that often. It’s a social rule that people in Clubs/Bars/Pubs are bad.(Stupid, I know, but still..Oldschool concept passing down from our mums and dads.) If you must say “No! They definitely DO go to bars all the time!”, well, I really can’t think of any of my friends who’s such a party animal except those works in a band.
People I know from public places other than Clubs/Bars/Pubs: Such as restaurants, Café. Except the fact that Chinese food can be really tricky sometimes (ie. Noodles with half in my mouth and the other half hanging down from my chin),I’d love to have a nice conversation during a meal. Actually, food is a really important part of every Chinese. InBeijing, we even say “Have you eaten or not?” instead of “How was your day?”. It is a very convenient way to build up a close friendship in a comparably short time. (My high school teacher even called it “effective and efficient”) So if you want to know more about a certain Chinese: Invite him/her to dinner.
People introduced by my friends: This could be the most reliable way meeting with new friends. The “agent” is someone close to us which can make we feel safe and easier to drop that invisible “Great Wall” to have a soul-handshake. But still, it depends on a lot of things other than just this “agent”.
It all lies in the big word TRUST. Chinese can “like” you very much, but deep down they might not trust you at all. We spend a lot of time judging whether a certain person is trustworthy enough to be “under our carpets”, so that we can share the most intimate feelings and secret stories hidden below. While at the same time, we spend an equal amount of time making ourselves look good to those “above our carpets”, by warm greetings and helping hands. It takes a lot for us to “know” someone, even when we act like “you are my best buddy”. Yes it does sound code, and if someone breaks this code by crossing the line, it is time for us to act weird: Oh, sorry I can’t. I don’t think I know you that much.