There is no scientific basis for dividing a generation by 10 years—the differences caused by region, gender, and family background may be greater than the year of birth—but since the post-1980s, the Chinese seem to be used to it.
One of the motives may be the incompatibility of the older with the younger. By putting some different labels on the younger generation, you can accept the reality that you are no longer standing on the center stage with peace of mind. However, it is undeniable that the drastic changes in Chinese society after the reform and opening up, the young people who grew up in this process are indeed very different from their elders. By labeling this “prejudiced” method, it can help people to grasp the characteristics of the times. .
Now, the post-00s generation is about to take the center stage, and this value has emerged again. The growth environment they live in is very different from the 20 years before the reform and opening up. We use four key words to outline the relationship between this generation of young people and society, and try to understand China in the first 20 years of this century in this way.
The post-00s are complete “digital natives”. From this generation, human teenage life has been tightly bound to the screen of less than 10 inches and the mobile Internet behind it.
In the survey for the post-00s generation, 76.9% of the respondents owned a smartphone before the age of 16. They are accustomed to every screen being touchable, and their gestures to imitate phone calls are no longer similar to “6”, but flatten their palms, imitating a tablet-like smartphone.
This is the always-on generation. Of course, the post-80s and post-90s can also access the Internet when they are young, but at that time, “going online” was an adventure that required active choice, and the Internet was another world opposite to physical life; Immerse yourself in it from the start.
The first characteristic of this immersion is that it has never been easier to send and receive information. After 00, they don’t have to squat in front of the TV at 18:00 to wait for cartoons. If they want to listen to a song, they don’t have to go out to buy it; 20 years ago, playing games online with friends was a ritual that needed to be done at an Internet cafe. Now, from Just take your phone out of your pocket. Mobile games marked by “Honor of Kings” have become so popular that they need to be strictly restricted by regulations.
People of all generations use social media, but the post-00s are clearly the most proficient.
The real-name system and mobile Internet allow post-00s generation to connect online and offline without obstacles. Posting your daily life on social media is a part of the routine itself, and adding your own social media account to your resume is becoming standard. Their understanding of relationships is also being refreshed. The post-00s will be anxious about the number of likes, reposts and interactions on social platforms; they will care about the “likes” of their friends (meaning that people with the same social circle posted similar content at the same time, and common friends only liked it) part of it). There are also some social pressures given by the system. For example, if two QQ friends have been sending messages to each other for more than 7 days in a row, a small flame pattern will appear next to the friend’s nickname. If the chat is interrupted, the pattern will disappear, which is regarded as insufficient relationship between the two parties. close.
In the noisy square of social media, the post-00s have learned a “short and smooth” public life. They are good at simplifying any information into two opposing positions, and know how to use barrage to express emotions; post-00s can naturally post “hang people”, or say that they are “bullied by the Internet”, they have more Internet slang, And take the “Internet celebrity” as an ideal career for granted.
At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September 2019, Swedish girl Greta Thunberg, born in 2003, spoke as an environmental activist, calling on world leaders to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
”You have let us down… The eyes of future generations are on you. The here and now is where we draw the line. Whether you like it or not, the world is waking up and change is coming,” Thunberg said violently. Despite many criticisms, her speech was a stark example of the attitude of the younger generation in the field of public opinion.
Most of the post-00s do not need to use speeches and news reports at international conferences to express themselves like Thunberg. They can express their voices in a simpler way. All it takes is a Weibo, a post or a short video, and they can express their opinions on issues such as gender equality and the gap between the rich and the poor, and they can also use words such as “capitalist” to criticize any company that is not pleasing to the eye. The key is that this expression Happening in constant retweets, it can easily accumulate into a torrent that cannot be ignored.
Of course, once again, this ethos exists in the entire Internet, and it is not unique to the post-00s, but for them, this is the innate order.
Dissolve authority while being conservative
Direct expressions on social networks will continue in real life, especially in the workplace. The first batch of post-00 college graduates have just entered the workplace, but their attitude towards their bosses has begun to attract attention. Behaviors such as “positive leadership”, “fancy resignation” and “refusal to work overtime” have been refined into new workplace styles for the post-00s generation.
”Be sure to reply!” – This is what a Tencent intern who was born after 00 on the Internet sent to Group President Liu Chiping. After the “Alibaba accompany the wine incident”, he made a vehement suggestion and asked Tencent to express its position on this. Interestingly, this private letter received Liu Chiping’s reply and thanks that night.
In another popular workplace chat record, the protagonist is still post-00. “One talk lasts for two hours, and the key point is that all you talk about is nonsense.” The post-00s chose to retaliate against the boss’s request to work overtime for meetings.
Obviously just entering the workplace, but they can criticize authority and unaccustomed unspoken rules without any scruples. Some people ridicule it as “severe beatings that have not gone through society”, but on the other hand, these young people have indeed shaken the workplace culture. ‘s disadvantages.
However, please don’t draw conclusions based on this, and regard the post-00s as a more rebellious generation than their predecessors. Their values are more mixed and elusive than in the past.
For example, their attitude towards the larger mainstream narrative is not positive criticism, but ridicule and banter. Note that this kind of ridicule does not necessarily correspond to resistance, but may instead be an acceptance. Bilibili (hereinafter referred to as “Bilibili”) is the most commonly used social platform for post-00s generation (yes, Bilibili is not just a video site in their eyes), among which the ghost animal area is one of the most creative channels in the subculture. one. Today, the most popular “material” in the ghost animal area is Zhu Guangquan, the host of CCTV. A seemingly serious symbol, it has been praised by the post-00s generation to become a B-site celebrity with millions of “one-click three-connection”.
Some young people even tend to be conservative in moral values. In recent years, classic works such as “Mrs. Bovary”, “The English Patient”, and “Titanic” have been successively named “three wrong views” by young audiences. The post-00s seem to attach great importance to the “correct” three views. .
A recent case is the costume idol drama “Meng Hualu”. The hero and heroine who are in love in the play emphasize to each other that they have not had sex before they fall in love. Some people criticized this as feudal dross, while many young audiences believe that the “Shuangjie” character design is a romantic love imagination.
It is difficult to simply deduce this phenomenon as a long-term trend, or to attribute it. It may be linked to social networks, national propaganda, but it is also possible, just because the post-00s are still young.
Most of the post-00s are not yet adults, and their parents are often the people they are in contact with the most in their lives. Intergenerational relationships are an important entry point for understanding the post-00s generation.
Most of the parents born in the 2000s are born in the 70s and 80s. They may have experienced the impact and vitality brought about by the transformation of the market economy when they were young. The “unit system” with state-owned enterprises as the protagonist is rapidly disintegrating in this era, and the only child has become the mainstream. Projected into family relationships, the differences between the post-70s and post-80s in terms of social experience, social resource values and their parents have widened rapidly.
When this group of people become parents, the intergenerational relationship will not be as tense as the previous generation, and the conflict of values between the post-00s and their parents will not be so intense.
Scholar Zhou Xiaohong proposed a concept called “cultural feedback” in the 1980s to describe the process by which young people at the time helped their parents adapt to the rapid changes in society. In the post-00s generation, due to the abundance of information channels, cultural feedback occurs earlier, and the post-00s appear to be more mature and more determined in the family. They can decide where to travel on vacation or how to decorate their new home from an early age.
An interesting phenomenon that is not necessarily directly related is that when you open station B and search for the keyword “anti-juvenile old age”, you can see a large number of UP owners sharing their personal experiences, a large part of which are post-00s who have just turned 20.
But on the other hand, unlike parents who are accustomed to “relying on themselves”, post-00s do not tend to be independent from the family earlier. On the contrary, many people are accustomed to a new model of being bound to the family.
Some scholars have summed it up as “new familism”, which refers to a kind of values in which family interests are greater than personal interests. Unlike traditional families that emphasize patriarchal and blood ties, in new families formed by parents born in the 1970s and 1980s and children born in the 2000s, the intergenerational relationship is often a closer cooperative relationship, and there will be a common standard of success. .
Yan Yunxiang, a professor at the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an interview that as systemic risks in Chinese society become more and more obvious, individuals at risk are required to face and solve systemic risks by themselves, but Not everyone has enough ability and resources to deal with it, and in the end, they can only find family members to share.
In Chinese cities, where the cost of living is soaring and housing prices remain high, the family has become a joint venture, and the ties between small family members are getting tighter.
The post-00s are more aware of the importance of utilizing family resources than previous generations. You can find some post-00s questions about major choices such as school choice and career choice on social networks, but it is interesting that while expressing their hesitation, they may list their parents’ income and family assets in detail, and regard the latter as their own. The main basis for making choices for yourself.
This pragmatism may come from parents. The generation born in the 1970s and 1980s is the most mobile and the most able to complete the class transition through their own efforts. After they become parents, they also know the way of “chicken baby” better than their predecessors, from playing the piano to dancing ballet. To learn equestrianism, practice ice hockey… only forward, there is no retreat. They have a deeper anxiety about declining class than other generations.
The last key word focuses on the relationship between young people and the country.
If a person was born in China in 2001, then during his growth, his motherland quickly integrated into the global trading system and became the world’s factory; the country’s GDP would increase by 8 times, and the total economic volume would rise from the sixth in the world to the world’s No. 1 Two; more than 500 million people have entered the city from the countryside, and hundreds of millions of families have private cars; people are accustomed to buying overseas products and traveling overseas, and studying abroad has become a feasible thing; this country has even hosted two Olympic Games .
Under such a growth environment, post-00s may feel that “growth”, “progress” and “leading” are all taken for granted. “Greenhouse flowers” is no longer an emotional cliché, but the most appropriate description to describe the post-00s.
”Comfort” is the most intuitive feeling of the greenhouse. The Chinese who grew up in the last 20 years of the 20th century still regard “connecting with international standards” as the mainstream concept. When they look at the material and cultural products of overseas developed regions, they still have yearning. But now the post-00s may not think so.
The actual growth of the strength of the motherland, coupled with the monotony of public opinion narratives, has brought the resonance of nationalism to the post-00s generation to a peak. In the consumer market, the rise of “new domestic products” is a typical indicator. A post-00 research report released this year by Tencent Social Insights shows that in terms of consumption attitudes, more than half of post-00 respondents said that “foreign brands are not a plus point”. The report believes that supporting domestic production is “a way for the post-00s to care about the country.”
Like other generations in other parts of the planet, post-00s can embrace both nationalism and consumerism at the same time. Behind this phenomenon is another feature of the greenhouse – the “transparent wall” that wraps around it. Since about 2010, several of the world’s most important websites, apps and services have struggled to do business in mainland China. They either leave because of regulation, either actively or passively, or lose out in market competition. The end result is that all important Internet services have alternative versions of “counterparts” in mainland China. “Simplified Chinese Internet” has become a self-contained ecosystem.
For the post-00s, this is not a gradual process, but a natural environment. They have no way to compare the differences between Baidu and Google, Weibo and Twitter, Bilibili and YouTube, and they will not care about the lack of globalized information. A media once asked Chinese young people about their views on free access to the Internet, and the answers included “don’t understand” and “don’t need it”.
The exchange of goods and people has made China’s post-00s more closely connected with the world than any previous generation, and the fragmentation of the Internet itself has made this connection more fragile than ever.
There is one group that exemplifies this subtle contradiction. Tu Siqi, a Ph.D. in sociology from the City University of New York, studied Chinese high school students studying in the United States in her doctoral dissertation. She described this group of young people as follows: The current American high school students, mainly composed of urban post-00s, appear to be more “patriotic” than other generations. , on the one hand, they bring a kind of “China-centered globalization imagination”; on the other hand, in their contact with their peers in other countries, they breed a kind of “cosmopolitan elite” self-consciousness.
The greenhouse with two sides gave birth to the identity of the post-00s generation – “cosmopolitanism” and “nationalism” side by side. But we can’t say for sure whether this state of affairs will last.
Since 2020, the post-00s have clearly felt the “big changes” for the first time, and also realized that “progress” is not for granted – and at the same time, the mechanism of sufficient communication that “cosmopolitanism” relies on is becoming more and more fragile in the new environment. .
There will always be a moment when the post-00s will realize that the greenhouse is not the whole world.