The term “lying flat” has recently become a trend in China, a mentality that resonates with many young people who want to live their lives with minimal desires, but has also been criticized as toxic chicken soup. Analysts say that the fact that young people no longer have hope for the future runs counter to Xi Jinping’s “China Dream”, creating an ironic situation where “the people are lying flat and the country is dreaming”, which is a major warning to the Chinese Communist Party.
The phenomenon of “lying flat” abounds in the world
The phrase “lying flat” has recently become an Internet buzzword in China, emphasizing the need to work less, not buy a house, not buy a car, not shop, not get married, not have children, and live with minimal desires.
The term originated from a posting of “lying flat is justice” on Baidu bar. The author describes how he lives without a stable job by taking occasional odd jobs and spending less. The author wrote: “Monthly spending is controlled within 200 yuan. Daily is the home lie, outside lie, like idle cats and dogs lie …… Lie flat is the only objective truth in the universe. I choose to lie flat, I no longer fear.”
This expression touches the hearts of many young people, in addition to the author himself was hailed as “lay flat master”, in addition, “lay flat science”, “lay flat people” such terms also followed the popular. In addition, similar to “social evil, first lie for respect”, “a moment to lie flat a moment cool, has been lying flat a straight cool” slogan is also quite popular. June 5 Shaanxi provincial civil service examination even lie flat as an interview topic.
In fact, similar “lie flat” phenomenon is not unique to China. The United Kingdom has “nits”, the United States has “nesting family”, France has “kangaroo family”, Hong Kong called “double loss of youth In Japan, there are “three young people” who do not like to go abroad, do not like to work, do not like to go out, and in Korea, there are “three people” who have given up love, marriage and children, and there are also “five people” who have left their housing and relationships behind. In Korea, there are “three throw-away people” who give up on love, marriage and children, and “five throw-away people” who throw away their housing and relationships, and even “seven throw-away people” who abandon all their dreams and hopes.
For the phenomenon of “lying flat” among young people in China, there are mixed reactions from the public. Some people said, “lying flat” means refusing to become a machine for others to make money and be exploited slaves, is a way of life for young people to meet the status quo, there is nothing wrong; others countered that “lying flat” is “mixed Waiting for death, do not seek advancement”. In fact, “lying flat” has its deeper reasons.
Young people lost in the competition on the starting line
Analysts pointed out that “lying flat” is today’s Chinese young people on the reform and opening up after the “first rich not rich” situation helpless reflection. Many of them are losing at the starting line of competition and can’t do anything about it.
Chinese current affairs commentator Xie Fei told Voice of America, “After the reform and opening up, we hoped to ‘get rich first and then get rich later,’ that is, to get a group of people rich first and then drive others to get rich together; but later we found out that ‘getting rich first is not getting rich’, that is, when the group gets rich first, they get rich later. But later we found that ‘first rich is not rich’, that is, when that group of people get rich first, the people behind them do not have the opportunity to get rich again, that is, it is difficult to transfer wealth to the whole society, only to a few people concentration and monopoly.”
Lin Zonghong, the author of the book “The Collapse Generation” and a researcher at the Institute of Social Studies of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, told the Voice of America that the “Collapse Generation” in China was formed about 10 years later than in Taiwan. The “collapse generation” refers to a generation of young people who have difficulty finding employment, are poor and low paid, and have difficulty starting a family and having children.
According to Lin Zonghong, according to the 2017 China Social Survey and related analysis, Chinese youth under the age of 35 generally have low wages, low income, and unstable employment in the workplace. This deterioration is related to the gradual slowdown of China’s economic growth rate in 2015 and 2016, especially the difficulty for college graduates to find jobs after leaving school. He argues that this combination of low pay and delayed marriage and childbirth among Chinese youth is similar to the plight faced by millennials in the past in Taiwan or elsewhere.
Lin Zonghong said, “China’s economic development has entered a plateau, and there may even be a gradual deterioration of the situation, young people have fewer job opportunities, this generation is facing many difficulties, (lie flat) which is a reflection of the difficulties of the overall economic and industrial development of mainland China, of course, there will be unfavorable signals for the future development of mainland China.”
The Shell Research Institute, a subsidiary of Chinese real estate company Shell Housing, released its “2021 New Tier 1 Cities Living Report” on May 27, pointing out that in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, the three cities with the highest house price to income ratios, it takes the average residential family more than 20 years It takes more than 20 years to afford a house without food or drink. Another “2021 New Youth Housing Consumption Report” published by the same research institute mentions that 45.5% of the new youths have to change their residence due to job instability, which is a major pain point of renting an apartment. This reflects the reality that young people in China today cannot afford to buy a house and have unstable jobs.
The battle between “lying” and “not lying”
Chinese media and scholars have published articles one after another attacking “lying flat”. Several groups on Douban were also blocked. Nanfang Daily recently published an article titled “Lie flat is shameful, where is the sense of justice? The commentary article said, in the face of pressure “lying flat” is not only unjust, but also shameful. Li Fengliang, an associate professor at Tsinghua University’s Graduate School of Education, criticized the article, saying that it is irresponsible for young people to choose to “lie flat”. The Communist Youth League microblogging site even called on young people to “live up to their mission, live up to their country, and not to lie flat”.
While a debate on “whether it is just to lie flat” is raging in Chinese society, Xinhua News Agency released a video on May 30 of an old scientist getting up at 4 a.m. to work every day, hoping to inspire young people not to “lie flat” but to “keep struggling”. According to the report, the 86-year-old retired professor of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zhao Huanting still works 10 to 12 hours a day.
The video was trolled by a large number of netizens as soon as it was released. Some said, “The old scientist is in the fifth level of demand: to realize his life value, we are in the first level: to work for the boss to solve the problem of survival, this is the same thing?” Others said, “lying flat is not enjoy, lying flat is the face of life under the heavy pressure of helpless escape and self-consolation, is a choice of necessity.” Another person said, “Scientists are indeed great, but I’m just ordinary garbage ah!”
Solution fly said that the previous generation, especially the successful people, in the “poor” to seize the tide of the sea, digging the first bucket of gold, which stood up, and some people in the Internet era of entrepreneurship, the use of technology to become bigger and stronger, also stood up. But now the times are different.
He said: “They use their life experience to tell young people now, you have to work hard, you have to struggle, can not ‘lie flat’ and so on, but now young people want to say is, today can still appear the second Wang Jianlin, can still appear the second Ma Yun, Ma Huateng? If it can still appear, I say it’s almost a fool’s dream.”
In the eyes of Chinese financial scholar He Jiangbing, “lie flat” is a “helpless activism”. He said: “Instead of moving foolishly and blindly, it is better not to move. You say private enterprises seem to be a lot, people really big, and you caught him, like Ma Yun, Sun Dawu, you can do them so big? Do so big and so what? Still not finished, then I still do that why, I might as well not do.”
He Jiangbing said that not consuming certainly has an impact on the economy, but reducing consumption is the same as reducing waste, which will also reduce the carbon footprint. Therefore, “lying flat” will help China achieve the goal of carbon peak in 2030 and carbon neutral in 2060 earlier. According to He Jiangbing, most people who “lie flat” are not rebellious people who take revenge on society, but are usually very moderate people. He said that instead of jumping to their death in social cases caused by the pressure of work and life, “lying flat” saves a lot of money for maintaining stability.
He Jiangbing said it is unreasonable to accuse young people of “lying flat” as degenerating, because the real degeneration is the solidification of the class and the failure to provide a fair competition system, not the young people themselves. Young people just see the result, can’t see where their future is, so they will choose to “lie flat”.
He said, “Many people’s greatest ideal as children is to be the successor of socialism, but until they die, they can’t take over, so they might as well ‘lie flat’.”
Lin Zonghong, a researcher at the Institute of Social Studies of the Academia Sinica, said that the core problem of “lying flat” lies in the immobility of China’s economic, social and political classes, which leads to the stagnation of the entire national mobility system. He argues that the top leaders of the Communist Party do not step down, leading to the rigidity of the entire social class structure. Without social mobility, there would be no “Chinese Dream. Without social mobility, people will not succeed even if they try, and their efforts will be in vain.
Lin Zonghong said, “It is quite ironic that the people are ‘lying flat’ and the country is dreaming, which is one of the consequences of totalitarianization that often happens.”
He believes that “lying flat” is a realistic reflection of the plight of China’s young generation, but it is not yet an “awakening” because China does not allow collective action, so only collective inaction is possible, as a passive resistance. Lin mentioned that during the late Cultural Revolution, there was also a group of people who did not want to fight and could not earn money, so they did nothing all day. He said that the current generation’s “lie-flatism” is an interesting analogy to the “proletarians” at the end of the Cultural Revolution.