Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Starting a New Life?

So I was having a discussion today with Douglon, my incredibly generous host here in Hong Kong. He was asking if I felt like I was starting a new life by coming here and trying to find work. It was an interesting question, and after a bit of thought, I replied that no, I don't think so. Furthermore, I don't think it's possible to "start a new life" in this day and age.

To clarify--the idea of a person leaving his/her home country and "starting a new life" elsewhere generally brings to mind images of immigrants coming to the United States through Ellis Island or elsewhere during the 19th-early 20th centuries. This generally meant that the people really were leaving everything behind in their home countries--maybe they were bringing some family members, but their friends, extended family, etc., were all left behind. They were completely leaving behind their "old lives", something I feel is essential in order to "start a new life". This is no longer possible. With Facebook, Skype, and all sorts of other modern inventions and applications, we can't really leave everything behind. Furthermore, 100 years ago if you left your home country, you left your home country. That is to say, you took a boat across the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, or made a journey across a continent. It would take days, weeks, or even months to return home, if you wanted to. Realistically, if I wanted to spend a good deal of money, I could catch a flight and be home tomorrow. Again, this makes it difficult to "start a new life" in the traditional sense of the phrase.

In short, I think that today it's not really possible to start a new life, that is, to break away from everything that you had back home and begin something totally new. Now mind you, if you decided to A) delete your Facebook/Twitter/Myspace (yes, I know, there are fewer Myspace users than readers of this blog, but it does still exist), B) not utilize Skype at all, and C) just decide to completely cut off all communication with your previous life (this is starting to sound kind of like something a serial killer might do), you could, in theory, "start a new life". But even so, this requires intentional ignorance of everything you came from.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make (and it's a damned obvious point), is that the world is getting much, much smaller, to the extent that, no matter where in the world we are, we can always bring our friends/family/old way of lives with us via technology. So for those of you who are maybe thinking about taking some huge step and moving abroad, remember--people have been doing such things for hundreds (thousands) of years, and it's become infinitely easier and more convenient in the last 20. So if they could do it, so can you! It should be interesting to see the way that this affects large-scale immigration from various countries to various other countries, but one thing is for sure...

...I may be living in a new city, trying to find a new job, meeting new people, and doing new things. But I certainly have not left my old life behind to start a new one.

Updates on the job front--2 interviews in Shenzhen tomorrow, 1 hugely important interview for a Portfolio Manager job on Friday in Hong Kong, 1 phone interview tonight with Allstate back in the states, and overall a lot more leads than I had in several months of job searching in the US. Updates to come as they develop.

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