China’s youth roasted for lack of desire, ambition
By Tao Yuan
The post-80s’ generation hasn’t completed its takeover yet. Meanwhile, the post-90s’ kids of China are making an announcement - they are becoming Buddha.
Quasi-Buddha, that is - declared in part as a response to scorn from older folks. The latest characterization of post-90s’ generation, now aged 18 to 27, is that they don’t care about anything and have little desire to win or to achieve.
This life attitude has been roasted as “佛系 (fo xi),” roughly translated to “Buddha Style,” describing young people’s “Zen-like” approach toward work and life. One typical “symptom”, according to disapproving elders, is detachment - a calm acceptance that reaches the point of apathy. “Until a kid started listening to ‘Incantations of the Great Mercy’ in the office, I snapped,” writes one magazine editor. “I needed them to explain what’s going on.”
These are the answers he got:
“Buddha Style” dinners - “Whatever I had yesterday.”
“Buddha Style” dates - “Relationship? Fine, if that’s what you want.”
“Buddha Style” parents - “High achievers are hard to come by anyway. Kids will grow up just fine.”
“What else can I say?” the article concludes. “Peace and eternal happiness.”
Millennials only find the pitying-tone amusing. “Why so sarcastic?” asked one self-proclaimed quasi-Buddhist. “Life’s short. Live yours and let other people live theirs.”
Analysts have attributed this premature listlessness to mounting social pressure China’s millennials face - skyrocketing housing prices, competitive job market, and rising cost of living.
“Or,” suggests Zhang Wei, a university teacher born in 1991, “we are just not that ambitious.”
Sitting in CGTN’s Chengdu office, Zhang and her friend Mu Wenxi attributed their “Buddha-like” attitude to something else. “Our generation didn’t have to fight for anything,” says Mu. “So we adopted a more casual attitude toward life. There’s nothing we must have.” “We are very clear as to what we want,” adds Zhang. “So we’re able to stop caring about all the irrelevant things in life. We are essentially minimalists.”
“Why explain?” asks Zhang Youze, another millennial. “I don’t care what other people say.”