A regurgitation of thoughts between idealism and practicality.
I. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is very well known for it’s economy, it’s Asia financial center status. I think most people who come to visit Hong Kong and do the usual Central, LKF, the Peak grand tour find life in Hong Kong being very glitzy and glamorous but there is more than meets the eye.
I think a lot of Hong Kong’s youngsters feel trapped. Hong Kong’s cost of living has been steadily going up with the influx of money in China buying pretty much everything under the sun, while inflation-adjusted income has been stagnant. Fancy this equation. A second-hand grade A flat in Taikoo Shing goes for about $10,000HKD/sq ft now. For a two bedroom, this is about 800 sq ft, which comes to about $8m HKD. Consider a down payment of $3m, which is almost 40%, pretty reasonable ratio. Now, how many years would one have to save in order to save for this $3m down payment given that you save about $10k from your $30k salary per month (a crude estimation of the earnings ceiling for a very average white collar job). 3,000/10 = 300 months = 25 years. This is not to mention your mortgage afterwards.
So youngsters feel this increasing struggle to enter professions that pay well, but in Hong Kong, there are a few choices : lawyer, doctor, finance and misc professional services (architect, accountant). They realize they will spend their lives slaving away for a small apartment, for the property developers. Kids don’t see their future anymore. A lot of them just don’t see how it will work out for them. Something has to change in the system.
Given this situation, it is no wonder that there is an unhealthy focus on money, and the glamorous lifestyle that it comes with, the glitzy glamorous life of clubs, of racecars, of boats. Everyone wants to get rich and escape from this struggle. But at the same time, people have become extremely practical about life. It becomes a focus on the practical, what makes money without hardwork, where can I find some benefits? This has become a dominant monoculture among the youth, a focus only on the most practical sipmly because life demands it.
I speak from a privileged upbringing, from a family that was able to provide for me a chance to go abroad for my education, and enough financial stability that I only had to worry about myself. I have no right to criticize.
Compared to the rest of the world, a lot of people live in materialistic comfort in Hong Kong, but I think many of them have imprisoned minds. It’s sad because it imprisons the mind from the truly important. It forces the mind to focus on the very now, and not the things greater than yourselves. That I think is the greatest tragedy. I don’t blame the people but I blame the economy for stripping away the freedom of being able to pay attention to the things you want. (stoicism)
On the plane back this time from Hong Kong, I’ve been reminded how unfair the world is (see old reiteration), and subsequently how fortunate I have been in my life. I have been extremely fortunate to have visited many places given my age and I think the things I saw first hand affected me. The world is a bigger place than the hometown you grew up in. And there is incredible amounts of diversity in this world, cultural, economical, social.
And after you leave this foreign place, you slowly return to the illusion that the small world you currently inhabit and the concerns you have are the only concerns of the world (solipsism). And that a lot of the things in this world that happen don’t affect us one lick, and hence don’t really matter. But at the very same time, the world is becoming more inter-connected and we are after all inhabiting the same world and are of the same species.
And we can blame a lot of things, chiefly among them capitalism, free market, whether money has managed to commoditize everything including our conscience (Breaking Bad comes into mind here). And we can also blame the lack of transparency between our consciousnesses. A (chinese?) story comes to mind here which I can’t seem to find, but the idea is that everyone in this world used to be able to see each other’s heart until one guy started hiding his.
The chief emotion that has been triggered by this realization is guilt. The question now though is whether to let this guilt subside like it usually does, or to repackage it into a productive force.
- Opening a bank account
- Buying furniture
- Buying groceries, cooking for yourself
- Getting a place, signing a lease
- Sleeping over at boyfriend/girlfriend’s place after work
- Planning life more than 1 semester at a time, thinking about the future, looking a year in advance.
Been seeing a lot of my friends recently who have started work. Talking to them, I have observed how fast life went from being passive to extremely active. It was 0 to 60 in a summer. S*** gets real fast.
And you realize a lot of the realities of life as well. Friend of mine was telling me how he wanted to switch jobs but basically it made much more sense to switch jobs after 2 more years with experience under his boat. There are bad moments to do things now. There are more considerations and the consequences are more severe once you have to support your own living.
And inertia, the real enemy of change. The extra effort you have to put into securing an option/ an alternative that you don’t even know will pay out versus an existing situation that isn’t great but isn’t awful, and you live with it. I mean that’s life, and that’s real.
Thank you to AM for telling me that life is in stages or I would have tried to convince myself otherwise.
This blog used to be a platform to voice my ideas and thoughts. I thought my ideas were useful to people because of how mature I felt thus how right my ideas must be. But two things are true, all of us can live different lives and achieve happiness. There is no -ism in life that happiness has to follow. And I have also realized how immature I actually am.
Many of the things I have written and I will continue to write about in the future have already been covered here before. Honestly, it’s the same s*** I keep repeating over and over again. They are the same ideas, same strands of thought just repeated in slightly different ways. But what is different is that I am repackaging all these ideas and emotions in a different package, with the proportions of each emotion a little different, in accordance to my life. And I guess that is also life, a series of small changes of how our dreams, hopes, desires, concerns morph day by day.
So this blog just becomes a documentation, a travel journal of my time here.