The new fad and lifestyle among Chinese millennials is to just lie flat and do as little as possible. They call it ‘Chilling.’ This is to avoid early burnout. It is a form of meditation, a runaway from the materialistic world, and a nirvana from the worries of the world. The youngsters have learnt how to consciously cut themselves off the world and have time for themselves.
A generation ago, success in China meant to work hard, get married and have children. But with employees working longer hours and housing prices rising faster than incomes, many young Chinese are now defying China’s long-held prosperity narrative by refusing to participate in it.
So what is it to lie flat? In Mandrin it is called Tangping. It simply means to forgo marriage, not have children, stay unemployed and eschew material wants such as a house or a car. This is what is called ‘thyag’ or detachment in Hindu philosophy or the concept of ‘let go’.
Tangping is traced to Luo Huazhong, 31. Five years ago he discovered that he enjoyed doing nothing. He quit his job as a factory worker in China, biked 1,300 miles from Sichuan Province to Tibet and decided he could get odd jobs and $60 a month from his savings. He called his new lifestyle “lying flat.”
“I have been chilling I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong,” he was quoted in the media.
Take the case of Ding, 22. He has been lying flat for almost three months and thinks of the act as “silent resistance.” He dropped out of university in his final year in March because he didn’t like the computer science major his parents had chosen for him.
After leaving school, Ding used his savings to rent a room in Shenzhen. He tried to find a regular office job but realized that most positions required him to work long hours. “I want a stable job that allows me to have my own time to relax, but where can I find it?” he was quoted.
Ding thinks young people should work hard for what they love, but not “996” — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week — as many employers in China expect. Frustrated with the job search, he decided that “lying flat” was the way to go.
“To be honest, it feels really comfortable,” he said. “I don’t want to be too hard on myself.”
To make ends meet, Ding gets paid to play video games and has minimized his spending by doing things like cutting out his favourite dishes. Asked about his long-term plans, he said: “Come back and ask me in six months. I only plan for six months.”
Youngsters have started to realize that material betterment is no longer the single most important source of meaning in life. They say they have the right to choose a slow lifestyle. “I didn’t do anything destructive to society. Do we have to work 12 hours a day in a sweatshop, and is that justice?” a tangping practitioner was quoted in the media.
Today, he lives with his family and spends his days reading philosophy and working out. He said it was an ideal lifestyle, allowing him to live minimally and “think and express freely.”
The new movement has inspired Zhang Xinmin, 36, to pen a song which says:
Lying down is really good
Lying down is wonderful
Lying down is the right thing to do
Lie down so you won’t fall anymore
Lying down means never falling down.
Ack: Online media sources