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How important is 'Face' (Mian Zi) to everyone? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-3-15 13:10:36 |Display all floors
This is my first Topic starter so I hope this can stimulate some minds. As the subject presented, why do Chinese people over-emphasize on face? 'Face' to me is a lack of confidence, display of insecurity, giving in on peer pressure and all of the sheep-esque mentality. I grew up in a society were as we get older we learn to do things with an intrinsic (self-motivated) attitude not one that is extrinsic (outside influence). China cannot be free if it perpetually keep the notion of doing things extrinsically and saving face. It's rather sad to hear people over here purchasing a BMW because everyone else says it's on movies, a European car and displays 'Face' very well. If I was to to buy a BMW, im definately thinking of the quality, safety standards, personal preference and other things that will make 'me' want to buy the car for 'myself'. At times when I hear these things its as if im hanging around with middle-schoolers talking about Nike/Adidas/Reebok shoes no matter how ugly they look. (But so and so worn them on that one commercial!!!) 'Face' is shallow, transparent and definately dictating people from showing their true colors or selves.

There I sparked a debate, let's excalate this into a forest-fire!

[ Last edited by eyeofstorm at 2006-3-22 04:46 PM ]
~All that which glitters is not gold~

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Post time 2006-3-15 15:56:53 |Display all floors
'Face' is important ,but i think food is more important...

Money,Happy,Learn..   if  you have all.that's enough!
I'm learning English!

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Post time 2006-3-15 16:32:24 |Display all floors
There are at least two types of mianzi's.  One, the material type. Second, the ethical type.

Just that in the chase of progress, the first is increasingly dominating the second.

Not hard to see why.  Modern society has less openings to nurture and cultivate the ethical mianzi because everyone is too busy to stop and cogitate or too coaxed by the need to find financial security to think why the ethical mianzi is superior.  Although much social altruism can be practised (donating to the poor, helping the needy, being present for the lonely etc),  how much time in a 9-5 day does one have to do that? Weekends are open, but the battery needs to be recharged and if one doesn't have much surplus money, there is so little that can be individually done to alleviate the suffering of others.  Herein lies a failure of modern society.  Something which can be changed.  A new system to channel and build and disburse the inherent social altruism in men and women so that their ethical mianzi can grow healthily.

The material mianzi however is forever trying to reign. Fuelled by the big bucks of advertising.  Whose sole mandate is to control the last frontier - the mind of the consumer.  In a cycle of innovate-sell-innovate-sell. In one way it's useful - because it creates progress.  In another way it's not so good - because it depends on the notion of branding to create the perception of value and make things easier to sell because branding triggers the association in the mind with a family of desired qualities.  At its apex, branding creates mental hooks to hook the consumer to want something in disproportion to his capability to pay for it, or its intrinsic functional value.  Yet all the world works like that; a bad thing can become a collective unspoken standard that spin-offs innovation and what is commonly called material progress.  To cut the matter to the core, live within one's means, understand the meaning of opportunity cost (paying for something with money which could be used in something else) and remember how materialism can change one's character to be either shallow or profound.

Such as with the coal mine owner.  Men die. Money made for him he throws onto the gambling tables of Asia; the casino operators are more than happy to send a personal jet to ferry the idiot to sumptuous dinners of sharks fin and abalone in luxuriously-appointed hotels so that the blood money he carries with him can be splattered in the very places on earth where the 'house always wins in the end - because it operates on human hope built on greed'.  Greed that forgets back home lives have been snuffed out so that he can fall into his own bottomless pit.

Such as with the car buyer. He asks for the price of the ferrari.  With the girl model as well.

And then there's the case of some tycoon in London who spent some thirteen million pounds sterling  - on a wedding.  While back home the people were walking the streets bedraggled, weak from malnutrition, ill from lack of medicine.

The need for mianzi has consumed all proportion. The sense of what is right and wrong has vanished.

Have i been talking of some past era when men were less learned or socially conscious of their actions?

No, the examples are recent.  In this 21st century.

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Post time 2006-3-15 16:45:35 |Display all floors

Reply #3 markwu's post

Dear Mark

Good to read your posts and have opened wide the topics.

Your Hefei mountain in Anhui?Fujian?
or Hebei?
What's on your mind now........ooooooooooooooo la la....Kind Regards

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Post time 2006-3-15 16:52:13 |Display all floors

so true

congratulations, "eyeofstorm" for a fine,eloquantly written post.  Yes the "concept"
of saving "face" is one of the biggest banes of the Chinese education system but
also hampers China seriously in the realm of international business.  The faster
Chinese students learn that there is nothing wrong with being wrong and that
being "wrong" can be a valuable part of the learning process, the better off they
are.  This awakening, however, is hampered though when Chinese teachers at a
very young age do not put a stop to other students laughing at a student when that
student makes an honest attempt at giving an answer whether it be right or wrong.
This is of course also tied in with the mistaken overemphasis on testing in
Chinese schools.  Testing is important but a happy medium must be strived for
between spitting back memorized material and free thinking and responding.

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Post time 2006-3-15 17:10:26 |Display all floors


in Anhui, caringhk. (i always get mixed up with my geography).

It was good - cold but uplifting. Climbed up the narrow stairs, looked at the saw palmetto tree, paid homage and came down with some awakening.

thank you.


it's important to know how others elsewhere tackle the same problems, and whether the problems have taken other forms, in order both to converge to the root of the matter.  The ancients have already derived most of the answers, relevant even till today.  Be confident their answers will remain relevant into the next millennium.

question: where in China is there a well with at least 16 nodges along its rim (from too often ropes pulled over its 2,600 years), that sits higher than roof-level?

[ Last edited by markwu at 2006-3-15 05:14 PM ]

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Post time 2006-3-15 17:26:05 |Display all floors
Its said that "Money is the root to all evil" while ironically "money makes the world go around". I suppose the excess of capital and greed is gradually / rapidly constricting the genuine ethical thoughts along with anything else that was once 'sacred'. Personally, I much rather see ethical mianzi around than the alterior.  (Materialistic)
~All that which glitters is not gold~

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