Dr. Yale sighed: Why make money? The difference between Chinese and American elites is quite big
Creative society pays attention to struggle and surpassing the limits of oneself. The focus is not on what you already have, but on your future potential.
Rent-seeking society pays attention to card positions, standing teams, ranks, and relationships, and personal hobbies focus on showing how many social resources you have or have divided up.
There are many successful people in my life circle. This is of course related to my personal high-degree education background. Recently, I have gradually discovered that although most of the Chinese among these friends are PhDs like me, the amateur habits of those living in the United States and those living in China are becoming more and more different.
A friend who is a professor at Peking University can be said to be top in this field. In a recent telephone conversation, he complained that he was getting older (actually two years younger than me) and his health was getting worse. He attributed everything to the typical living habits of successful Chinese: a lot of entertainment, a lot of occasions, eating one by one, drinking one cup at a time, traveling without touching the ground, always sitting in the car... the same type of domestic I contact Friends, roughly the same.
Another friend in the United States has just completed a long-distance bicycle race, which is more than 200 kilometers away, and has struggled for more than ten hours in the summer. I was amazed at this. I never heard that she had a hobby of sports in the past, but how come she has become so "extreme" now?
All of this is probably going to do what the locals do. She works in a big technology company, and her colleagues constantly compare long-distance running and long-distance bicycles with each other. Her husband also engages in high-tech, and recently became obsessed with bicycles, and asked me to ride 40 kilometers. I have always been considered a long-distance runner, confident that I will not lose to him; but the result is a big defeat. Not convinced, now I start training with indoor bicycles, and plan to break the three-hour record of triathlon.
Just after finishing hard training in the gym that day, a middle-aged man who had never met greeted me friendly and asked about my mileage, time, and speed of improvement. After asking for advice, I learned that I once set a world record for riding 350 miles (more than 560 kilometers) in a day. Later, because of a broken knee, I was forced to interrupt training and was preparing to make a comeback...
This is the atmosphere of my life. The Boston area where I work and live, as well as Stockholm, Helsinki, Amsterdam, San Francisco, etc., are listed as "elite cities" in the world by The Economist. The so-called "elite" is high-tech concentration and cultural avant-garde. The correlation between the two is very strong. The so-called "cultural avant-garde" includes those successful in the new economic competition who particularly like to engage in extreme sports. For example, the New York Times recently published a long article about a father who started swimming from scratch in order to participate in triathlons with his children. This is indeed a big challenge for people in their fifties. He told how he remembered Chopin's music when he was struggling in the water, and how he used his piano training and swimming by analogy.
A recent article introduced a 41-year-old woman from a law school who owns two companies but is passionate about ultra-long distance triathlon and mountain biking (over 160 kilometers a day). She started training at 90 o'clock in the morning while her eight-year-old son was still sleeping for 7000 minutes, sometimes two hours of training, and took a break to spend half an hour of training in the evening twice a week. Her mountain bike is $4000, road racing is $200, bicycle shoes are $200, and her helmet is $XNUMX, all of which are not affordable for ordinary people. However, the way she consumes and lives is very different from the Chinese elite.
Why is it so? From my observation, the new economy in the United States is high in technology and competitive, and requires the energy and creativity of young people. As I mentioned in the book "Cultivating the Elite", extreme sports is a trend in Silicon Valley. A lady who woke up at four o'clock in the morning to practice long-distance swimming said that here, she looks old in her forties. Therefore, people who have passed the forty years must constantly prove themselves. You beat the twenty-something boy Mao in a marathon competition, and others look at you differently. In short, success means struggle and "process". Your whole life style should reflect that you are in this struggle process. This is called "cool". It’s no wonder that the recent life trends in the United States are: cycling has gradually become a mid-to-high-yield fashion, and golf has become popular among the working class. I remember the Florida professor who wrote the book "The Rise of the Creative Class" once mentioned that on the American rivers, those who drive motorboats are often blue-collar workers, and those who babble and row are often white-collar elites.
China is a different matter. Success means picking the "fruits" and reaping the benefits. Those who succeed seem to have entered a vested interest group. Therefore, the culture of successful people is based on enjoyment. For example, at a banquet, "drinking something delicious and spicy", squeezing your feet, or playing golf that doesn't require much physical strength, and feels "upscale". Some luxurious meetings often provide this kind of service. Riding a bicycle has become a very native way of life. The premature aging of white-collar workers has actually become a social problem.
Personal hobbies supposedly belong to the realm of private life. However, the individual hobbies of the class and group reflect some of the style of our society. Creative society pays attention to struggle and surpassing the limits of oneself. The focus is not on what you already have, but on your future potential. As a result, everyone is more "extreme" in sports than anyone else. Rent-seeking society pays attention to card positions, standing teams, ranks, and relationships, and personal hobbies focus on showing how many social resources you have or have divided up. Therefore, what I worry about for the elites in China is not only their bodies, but also their spirits.
World Chinese Weekly