Today’s older generation often find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand the youth. The situation is baffling for older Hong Kong people who enjoyed the success of the “Hong Kong miracle” in the past decades and are now retired. They believe that a good place for making money, putting bread on the table and a roof over your head, is a good place for everyone.
Filial piety held Chinese society together
Our parents were obedient to their parents. Their parents obeyed their parents’ parents. Wives obeyed their husbands and mothers-in-law. Obedience, which stemmed from respect for one’s elders or those of higher social rank, is the very foundation of filial piety (孝) in Confucianism, a virtue of Chinese culture. This held society together, good or bad.
Obedience extended to the Emperor
The concept of filial piety infiltrated all aspects of life. The very concept was applied to the Emperor in the Forbidden City who was the father of all people. The Emperor, Son of Heaven, was at the very top of the patriarchal hierarchy. He, the father, took care of his people. His people, in return for his enlightened rule, obeyed his authority, like a child obeys his parents.
Locals swore allegiance to the Queen as they did the Emperor
English society was very similar to Chinese society in that hierarchy was a very foundation. When the British colonised Hong Kong, the English model as applied in Hong Kong worked seamlessly with local culture. Business as usual, only the Emperor was replaced by the Queen of England. The British used the Chinese patriarch model to justify and implement their rule.
Our parents were shaped by the world around them
Before there was Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, there were only newspapers and radios. The only access to news was the traditional media. Unless they went for overseas education, our parents’ understanding of the world was shaped by the news fed to them and the wisdom of their parents, who probably received traditional Confucian or British education.
Advent of the internet and non-parent sanctioned media
With the advent of the internet, today’s youth could now easily access foreign and non-government controlled media without leaving Hong Kong. This allowed exposure to rhetoric not sanctioned by their parents, exposing them to new ideas on what society “ought” to be. Their parents’ wisdom is now seen as obsolete. The new media is now their new “truth.”
The impact of technology in the media has had profound impacts on our youth. Trust in parents’ wisdom is now replaced by other sources of “truth” through not by books or government-sanctioned textbooks, but new forms of social media. This, coupled with new concepts of egalitarianism which has given young people a new sense of empowerment, has come to challenge the very notion of the traditional social hierarchy.