If I were a Chinese language teacher in university, the first thing I would tell my students to do is to join Wechat. I, personally, have learned more characters by using this thing over the past two years than I’d learned in the previous eighteen. Wechat’s translate function is anything but perfect, but it still does wonders for me. It’s not only a great way to learn Chinese, it’s also a great way to become closer to the people you think you know. I’ve got my seemingly reserved friends who are constantly post selfies, like they are schizophrenic or something. I’m sure their cameras burn away their batteries taking all those pics of themselves. Then I’ve got the family guys. You know the ones who put up shots of their children without reservation? I’ve also noticed the machine-gunners, the people who don’t post for days or months, and then all of a sudden send a barrage of posts all back to back. Then they are silent again to the point where you think they are on their death bed or something. Then you’ve got the foreigners who only write in Chinese, and the Chinese people who only write in English. The link masters are anything but few and far between. No text can ever flow from their own fingers. And who carries a phone into a gym? A lot of the people I know do, and they surely enjoy sharing their pain, and or progress with me. Drinkers like to focus their phones on their half empty bottle before it goes blurry. And now that there is a video function, I’ve observed some folks who will only take those. Good-morning, positive people are a penny a dozen with their sunny breakfast shots.
Speaking of food, do some people do anything with their lives except eat and take pictures of the half-eaten grub on their plates? I personally enjoy the aforementioned people. I hate the negative people. I’ll take that copper penny over a dime any day. Does that make me a negative guy? Two negatives make a positive, right? Do we really need to be reminded constantly how this chengguan smashed that yangrou dealer’s barbecue, or how that bus ran over this baby three times?
Finally, you’ve got the newbies who’ll accept anybody as a contact, the prudes who’ll accept nobody, the cheapies who’ll add any place then delete them once their deal has been had, and the opportunists who do nothing but promote themselves. Plato once went on about how there are three types of people: the heroes, the spectators, and the pickpockets. Obviously, he didn’t have Wechat back then.
Alright, away from the stereotypes and back to the learning. One tip I’ve learned is to text myself. Though the translate function doesn’t work on “moments,” I always copy and paste the moments I’m interested in understanding into a message to myself, therefore enabling it to get switched into English. Enjoy that, be merry, and have happy holidays.
by Tim Hoerle