August 3, 2021

Chinese youth demand the right to laziness

“The blessing will come, and I will lie down from now on, until I die. I won’t get married, I won’t buy a house, I won’t have children. I won’t buy a bag, I won’t wear a watch. I’ll be idle, work one day and play three days. ”

On Douban, a Chinese social network with 200 million users closely watched by the authorities, mass is said. For several weeks, young Chinese have let themselves go and a trend has emerged: that of tang ping, that we could translate by “voluntary indolence », or more literally by “lying down”. Just “Lying Down” (“to lie down” in French), one of the sub-groups of the social network, counted on its own, according to the English-speaking Chinese site Sixth Tone, more than 6,000 members before its closure by the authorities.

“Act of wisdom”

A few weeks ago on Tieba, another popular platform in China, a user who has been unemployed for two years picks up his keyboard. Far from signing a mea culpa, the Internet user then defends his own laziness and is even satisfied with his situation: “Laying down is my act of wisdom. It is only by lying down that man can take the measure of everything. “ The act of rebellion, which resembles a humanist manifesto, finds a large audience and the credo of tang ping goes viral.

After Tieba, it is Douban’s turn to ignite, before the authorities seize on the subject and delete one by one the threads of discussions. This does not prevent young Chinese users, determined to advocate a slower and more relaxed lifestyle, from seizing other discussion platforms, such as Reddit.

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On Weibo, the platform most coveted by the Chinese – especially young people – a poll conducted between May 28 and June 3, echoed on South China Morning Post, gives the measure of the extent of the movement. Of the 241,000 participants, 61% of them say they are ready to adopt the « lying flat attitude », understand here “lie flat”.

A voluntary step to avoid any physical and moral effort, which takes root in a rejection of the stress imposed by the important culture of work and studies in China, and a cruel lack of confidence in the future. While many young people struggle to find work after completing their studies, those who manage to get a contract often have to work more than the average, for a salary that rarely exceeds 800 euros, while rents in the big cities are vastly superior. Many users also denounce the “996” pattern – working from nine in the morning to nine in the evening, six days a week.

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