Derek Pan

Chinese New Year in a digital era

The Chinese Year of the Goat has started. For the first time since 2010, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at home. Disappointingly, the reality didn’t match with high expectations.

Chinese New Year is a feast for children and singles because they can go around to family and the elderly to collect red pockets, better known as Hong Bao. Also, married adults give Hong Bao to the elderly, like their parents, as a sign of respect. I’m very proud that finally this year, as a working adult, I can give Hong Bao to my parents as a gesture of gratitude. I think it a positive tradition of the Chinese New Year.

However, a game changer, WeChat, the Chinese counterpart of Facebook that recently introduced electronic Hong Bao, is overthrowing the tradition. On the one hand, I admit this is a brilliant marketing idea. On the other hand, the traditional side of me felt disappointed to see so many friends, or acquaintances, stay online to scavenge money in the WeChat chatting groups. The Chinese New Year’s eve turned out to be a battlefield of virtual money grabbing.

Although money may be widely anticipated during the Chinese New Year, there are more important things to do, like having s special dinner and spending time with parents and other family members. Given that family-time has become more and more precious in this fast lifestyle, at the end of a year maybe we should slow down and turn away from the virtual world for a while. Why not call your used-to-be-around friends for a catch-up talk, eat some good food, hear their happenings to make up for lost times, and share yours in return? It is more worthwhile to satiate your heart, rather than your pockets.

May the year of the goat bring you good health and happiness.

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