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What's behind poor passenger behavior? / by Ember Swift, January 6, 2015 Adjust font size:

With increased financial security and the freedom that wealth offers to Chinese citizens, it follows that they are travelling more. Wealth brings liberty, but it sadly also brings entitlement. These travelers (perhaps gently excluding the man who simply didn't realize he couldn't open the emergency exit for "fresh air") are demonstrating a dangerous attitude. Their behavior suggests that if they are able to afford this new lifestyle, then the lifestyle should in turn be in service to them. Therein lies an underlying assumption: in Chinese society, not everyone is created equal, and certain privileges should be awarded to those who can afford it.

Perhaps consistent socialist leadership against a capitalist economy, coupled with a generation of newly entitled adults who are the products of those raised during the Cultural Revolution, is one of the sources of this problem. Their parents were unable to "rise to the top" because the whole society was structured against such divisive wealth. Now, if this new generation were to conform on even the simplest of levels, i.e. , socially-sanctioned behavioral expectations, perhaps this would be psychologically tantamount to accepting their status as uniformly equal to others, not better or more deserving.

Nevertheless, even if a quick psychological assessment cannot explain these incidents fully, they are an embarrassment to the greater Chinese population. In a time when Chinese people are often the targets of discrimination all over the world - especially in a way meant to counter China's growing economic power and privilege - China would do well to increase the fines for such childish behavior, thus publicly shaming people for a recurring tendency to act like spoiled princes and princesses. It's surely embarrassing to the country's reputation, whether this happens on Chinese domestic flights or on international ones.

While socially-sanctioned behavior is a kind of collective conformity, it does not connote a debasing of the self. On the contrary, it suggests a type of self-control and humility that only those who have risen to the greatest heights of self-awareness truly possess. If nothing else, for those who are wealthy enough to be sitting on an airplane, keeping one's behavior in check will certainly save economic resources. Fines for such ridiculous actions are already hefty, I'm told. Besides, these days, everything embarrassing goes viral. If Chinese passengers can just keep those seatbelts buckled, read through their safety booklet and keep their attitudes in check, I predict "clear skies ahead" for Chinese travelers' reputation.

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