'Thanks to Coronavirus, I Realized My Spouse's Brain is Broken'

Political disagreements arise when stuck together under quarantine

In a first for ChinaEconTalk, I’ll be translating dating advice. The following viral wechat post talks about how events over the past year have sparked very uncomfortable political conversations between spouses and significant others. Though many western commentators characterize the Chinese public as mostly apolitical, the increasingly charged environment domestically may spark the politically assortative mating now seen in the US.

After the translation, I’m trying out something new by shamelessly copying Alexey Guzey’s best tweets of the week. The idea is to give those not addicted to China Twitter a window into its ongoing conversation. Let me know if you find this useful!

Lastly, I just flew into New York last night. If you want to meet up please respond to this email.

The following is an abridged translation.

What should you do when you’re in love but you realize your partner’s brain is broken?

Chinese link. Written one week ago by Lehoho, an anonymous personal account. 100k+ views.

Today, I was chatting with my wife. There’s not much to talk about, except for being careful of pneumonia, whatever we do, we just have to get through the next few months! Out of nowhere, she says: “Who knows if it’s the Americans, they just don’t want China to develop!” This reminded me of her brother these past two days, who has been saying things along the same bs logic. To be honest, I felt like I was walking around on a sunny day and suddenly got hit by five lightning bolts and just wanted to die. I…don’t know what to do!

When I saw this blogger’s story, I cracked up, not out of schadenfreude, but because this has happened to me as well.

Three years ago, I came across a girl I really liked. She seemed perfect for me: her looks, personality, interests, and hobbies all lined up. We stayed up all night talking to each other and seemed to understand each other perfectly. At that moment, I felt like I was on the edge of finally shedding my single status. If what I’m about to tell you didn’t happen, I would’ve declared my love.

I forgot how it came up, but I brought up some political issue. It was the first time we talked about something like this, and I had no idea she would refute me so excitedly. She said something like, “China has its special national characteristics. If we could vote, we’d just turn into Syria or Iraq. China has some weaknesses, but no country is perfect, and you can see its progress, so better to be a ‘positive energy’ person and not always talk about how China is bad. Children don’t call their mothers ugly, and dogs don’t dislike their poor doghouses.” (子不嫌母丑,狗不嫌家贫) I especially remember her saying “I did undergrad abroad, and foreign media are always unfriendly to China. Their anti-Chinese sentiment is really strong, so don’t be brainwashed by those foreigners.”

In a split second, my entire frame of mind changed. Do you have any idea what it’s like to go from feeling like you’re on the top of the Himalayas to the bottom of the Mariana trench?

At first, I thought, why on earth did I decide to start talking politics with her? But upon reflection, I figured it would be better to know sooner rather than later.

Views on politics reflect a lot about people. For instance, they show your first-hand knowledge, your courage and insight, how much you’ve read, your ability to think and distinguish right from wrong, how much you care for others and feel a sense of social responsibility, how well you can resist swindlers, whether you feel part of a national mission and love your compatriots, whether you especially love your homeland or other things, and so on. These things all distinguish people’s fundamental judgment.

This past year, there have been a lot of big political things. A lot of people I’ve met through this wechat channel have reached out to me with similar stories of political views impacting their love lives. They’re all talking about how they’ve started doing nothing but fighting with their significant others about politics. Some have already broken up, and others are on the verge.

Said one reader to me:

Things had been going great for my boyfriend and me for the past two years. But because of the June Incident [HK protests], we started to fight all the time. I began crying a lot and wanting to break up. My parents, friends, and boyfriend all didn’t understand. When we started to discuss politics, I really had never thought about these problems, but now that we have so much invested in our relationship, it’s going to be hard to break up.

Breaking up because of politics isn’t a bad reason to part ways, become enemies, and block each other on social media. If you realize your partner is a ‘brain-broken’ (脑残) and beyond redemption, my advice is to get it over with and end things.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the brain-broken person in the relationship always thinks that political views really shouldn’t matter when it comes to love. And the woke side (觉醒) is always strong in their convictions and ends up ending the relationship.

That’s probably because the brain-broken one will never realize they’re brain-broken.

That said, brain-brokenness only represents that someone isn’t open-minded, and not that they’re undeserving of love. In 2016 on September 18th, when [Chinese ping pong star] Wang Nan’s husband was at a Japanese hotel and left all the faucets running to show that he didn’t forget the Mukden Incident [Japan’s staged violence in 1931 which kicked off their invasion of Manchuria], she said on Weibo that he was doing great. That’s just fine! This sort of love can still be beautiful, with two people on the same frequency and whose IQ levels are the same can better understand and support each other.

Some translations from top comments below the article:

Anonymous: “I’m curious what the author’s political views are.” Author’s response: “Prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity, friendship.”

“That girl is too lucky. Author, you should just hurry up and find a yellow from Hong Kong [someone pro-protests].”

“It’s common to see students who study abroad become the reddest, perhaps because they can’t integrate locally, so adopting pro-China political views becomes a source of psychological comfort.”

China Twitter Tweets of the Week

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