A major outbreak of righteous indignant mouth-frothing in Hong Kong Twitter-land. The cause was this piece by a Financial Times staffer leaving the city after just a couple of years, describing her life of junk parties, RAT tests, champagne at sunset, quarantine – every dim-bimbo expat cliche bar the rickshaws and coolies.
What you should do is turn the page (it’s a lifestyle piece). But it was a slow weekend, and numerous familiar-but-anonymous posters erupted in fury. Many pointed out obvious shortcomings in the article. ‘…she falsely generalises her own terribly disinterested disposition as the norm…’ How could she be an expert when she apparently had few local connections? Or claims the only thing that’s cheap here is the taxis?
Tone deaf is right, but not for the reasons she imagines. She seems completely ignorant of the fact that a large population of non-Cantonese here in Hong Kong (many professionals) live nothing like she describes and were out there protesting with everyone else.
At this point a more angry crowd weighs in. I won’t bother linking, but the basic gist of it is a form of virtue-signaling: ‘this person is just an expat, while I’m a genuine [non-native-born] Hongkonger of many years/decades who can use chopsticks and has local friends and cares and understands about the place’. Or the short version: ‘I’m white, but not a Disco Bay one’.
This hypersensitive superiority and resentment towards other outsiders/Westerners who moved to Hong Kong more recently and/or don’t integrate sufficiently is not new. Remember aging colonial matrons’ disgust at working-class Brits arriving to work on the airport in the 90s? Probably goes back centuries. Indeed, it has a name: Marco Polo Syndrome. I discovered this place and know its exotic ways, while you are an interloper who embarrasses me.
The cool thing to do is
ignore people. Always worked for me live and let live. Not everyone is curious or adaptive. (Though most FT correspondents, in my experience, are.)
Update: quick discussion of the phenomenon.