A common side effect of living in China is becoming obsessed with it. In a place as fascinating as China, it can be difficult to pull yourself away from the endlessly engaging 24-hour news cycle. When traveling the diverse and beautiful Chinese landscape isn't an option, James Weir recommends turning away from the minute-by-minute updates of the Twitter and perusing a classic China blog, Imagethief.
I spend a lot of time on the Internet. Without a doubt too much. Whether it be scouring the web for subjects for a Blogger Spotlight, flipping through pictures for potential China Through My Lens photographers, trying to keep up on American politics (lest I lose touch with my dysfunctional, problem-ridden and wholly wonderful homeland), reading about Baotou's rare earth metal deposits, staying up to date with the happenings of the Chinese political realm or watching Beyoncé videos on YouTube, I am perched in front of a laptop for the majority of every day, at work and often afterwards. This is not healthy.
And not just unhealthy because at the end of the day I often feel like my eyes have become unexpectedly acquainted with the Gobi Desert, and not just because sometimes my back has more in common with a DNA double helix than I would like it to, but also because it is incredibly stressful to try and stay informed. I was reminded of this a few weeks back on the blog Rectified.name....
Fact is, the news is depressing. Not always, but usually. This is not news to anyone who reads the news. And unless you are a professional, it is also impossible to keep up. Especially since the last few months have seen some pretty epic headlines coming out of China. Though the tidings have been mostly bad, the news itself (for the voracious China news consumer, at least) has been extraordinary. It hasn't simply been big news, but the kind of news that has been shrouded in controversy, strong opinions, gossip, intrigue and suspense. Scandals. The kind of stuff that will have you reading and rereading the same story on different news outlets and blogs, looking for a definitive answer. Of course, there's almost never a definitive answer. So we read on.
Most evenings, generally sometime between 9pm and 11pm, I realize that my brain is collapsing in on itself, awash in speculation, foreboding patterns and alarming realities. The most obvious solution for a mind oversaturated with China news is to go outside, to surround yourself with living, breathing human beings that you can see, touch and hear. But going outside isn't always the best idea, and I don't always want to talk to people. So in those situations, the most obvious distraction from the constant beckoning of China news is the Internet.
Sometimes I find that the best respite from the stresses of China, both for the everyday annoyances and the bigger picture frustrations, is to bitch and complain about them. Let it out. Vent. Curse China if you must, but remember that a healthy dose of humor is good and will go a long way towards keeping you together in the long run. Laugh about it, or you will inevitably go insane, do something terrible and end up on the news yourself. This is not a good solution. And the problem with complaining and venting to your friends, family, coworkers and unsuspecting bystanders is that they will get sick of hearing about it. They will also get sick of you, as a person. I can attest to this. Again, this brings us back to the Internet.
So it was with great relief that I discovered the glories of Imagethief. I made the discovery around 10:30pm, whereupon I spent the next two hours or so chuckling to myself while basking in the loving, non-judgmental glow of my laptop. Though the blog is more or less defunct (his posts now appear on Rectified.name), the site continues to boast a formidable archive of fantastic China-related material. Much of it is hilarious and a great way to kill some time and distract yourself. Though the posts go back to 2004—making much of it "outdated" by the standards of today's Twitter-centric news cycle—it offers an astonishing amount of well written, relateable posts that continue to entertain and apply today.
Lucky for us, the man behind the blog, William Moss, has gone through the trouble of distilling some of his favorites from years past and dividing them into categories. For the purposes of this article, I would recommend the Humor, Rants and Memoirs section. Remember, your best bet is to get out, go to dinner with friends, read a book, take a vacation, go skydiving, gokarting, curling, whatever. But if you're stuck at a computer, or can't bring yourself to act like a normal human being (it's tough, I know), you might want to check out Imagethief. It'll do you good. Promise.