Press Esc to close

Keep calm and be average: China's unambitious millennials

Agence France-Presse, Beijing, Dec 29 2017, 12:40 IST
Some of these labels have been condemned by authorities, but Buddhist Youth have been greeted -- appropriately -- with indifference. Reuters picture for representation

Some of these labels have been condemned by authorities, but Buddhist Youth have been greeted -- appropriately -- with indifference. Reuters picture for representation

While their country's leader has encouraged citizens to work harder and dream big, some Chinese millennials are declaring their allegiance to the art of being average.

Nicknamed "Buddhist Youth", these young people have embraced a laissez-faire approach to life which has more to do with being chilled out than reading sutras.

"Life is quite tiring," said 23-year-old Guo Jia, who believes being a Buddhist Youth means "accepting the things you cannot change and going with the flow".

As a viral Chinese social media post outlined this month, behaviours associated with the largely irreligious Buddhist Youth include eating the same food every day, allowing one's romantic partner to make all the decisions and being devoid of strong feelings about virtually everything.

They are the latest in a string of subcultures to achieve online fame in China -- with labels like "greasy uncles", a type of pompous yet slovenly middle-aged man, to "cultured youth", the Chinese equivalent of a hipster.

Some of these labels have been condemned by authorities, but Buddhist Youth have been greeted -- appropriately -- with indifference.

When Guo first arrived in Beijing, everything -- from working at his finance job to riding the subway -- made him anxious. Like many of the nation's young strivers, he came to the capital eager to meet the high expectations he had set for himself.

But more than a year later, he has found peace in letting things be.

"I haven't been able to stop caring about everything," Guo said, "but these days I am generally calm and unperturbed. It is enough to just be content with life."

Such declarations are curious in Xi Jinping's China, where the president has endeavoured to rally young people in particular around the notion of the "Chinese Dream".

"A nation will be prosperous if its young generation is ambitious and reliable," Xi said in 2013.

Chinese millennials' unique take on monkhood grabbed attention online after a popular public account on the WeChat messaging app, called "Ways of the 21st Century", described various types of Buddhist Youths in detail.

A "Buddhist Passenger" is someone who chooses to walk to their DiDi (China's equivalent of Uber) rather than explain their exact location to their driver.

A "Buddhist Online Shopper" is someone who buys the things they like but does not return the things they don't like.

And a "Buddhist Employee" is one who desires nothing more than to "arrive at work peacefully and leave work quietly".

A Buddhist Youth wants nothing because she or he expects nothing -- win or lose, adversity or good fortune, they accept it all.

Lin Kexin, a 20-year-old student in eastern Fujian province, said she began to identify more as a Buddhist Youth after acting too impulsively on a romantic crush.

"That was tiring," she said.

The trend has even caught the attention of the People's Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, which published two articles on Buddhist Youth last week.

"This may just be a way for young people to explore their position in society," the daily said, acknowledging that the identity was a reaction to "life's quick rhythms".

The assessment is positive compared to the government's reaction to "sang" culture, another Chinese millennial attitude that has cropped up in recent years.

In contrast to Buddhist Youths, who pledge to maintain a neutral outlook, the "sang" lifestyle is characterised by unrelenting, sardonic despondency -- an approach the People's Daily called "pessimistic and hopeless".

Go to Top

More from this section
Most trending stories
Photo Gallery
Two peacocks in a mid-flight at the Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi...

Two peacocks in a mid-flight at the Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi...

Former Telecom Minister A Raja addresses the gathering at his book launch 'The 2G Saga...

Former Telecom Minister A Raja addresses the gathering at his book launch 'The 2G Saga...

Police personnel stand guard near the premises of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya...

Police personnel stand guard near the premises of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya...

STF personnel recover gold after a raid which resulted in arrest of most wanted criminal Subodh...

STF personnel recover gold after a raid which resulted in arrest of most wanted criminal Subodh...

Former Miss Earth Nicole Faria addresses the event for felicitation of 112 women achievers...

Former Miss Earth Nicole Faria addresses the event for felicitation of 112 women achievers...

Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai at an event to recognise 112 women achievers, to be honoured...

Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai at an event to recognise 112 women achievers, to be honoured...

A farmer burns the residue of her sugarcane crop at her farm on a cold foggy morning...

A farmer burns the residue of her sugarcane crop at her farm on a cold foggy morning...

Kite-enthusiasts display a kite with an image of Kulbhushan Jadhav during International Kite...

Kite-enthusiasts display a kite with an image of Kulbhushan Jadhav during International Kite...

Honey bees visit a flower near Vijay Chowk area in New Delhi...

Honey bees visit a flower near Vijay Chowk area in New Delhi...

A squirrel eats corn grains on a cold winter morning in Bhopal ...

A squirrel eats corn grains on a cold winter morning in Bhopal ...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.