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January 21, 2011

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It's not only a label, it's a way of life

AN increasing number of young netziens are identifying themselves with buzzwords that indicate their heritage, lifestyle and attitudes. Yao Minji takes a look at some of these modern clans.

Fiona Chen has no description in the personal profile column on her blog - no real name, no age, no hobby, no life motto.

Instead, she fills the label column with seven categories - qiang qiang zu (online bargain hunters), qiong mang zu (the poor and busy), qiong er dai (poor second generation), bianlitie nu (post-it girl), zhai nu (otaku, or recluses), yue guang zu (moonlite/moonlight) and cao shi nan (herbivorous man) hunter.

The names may look like secret codes to those at first sight, but to the trendy young netizens, these buzzwords are more than enough to draw a detailed profile of the 24-year-old.

According to the labels, Chen is not from a rich family, hence a "poor second generation," and she makes only enough to live on from a busy job (the poor and busy).

As a "moonlite," she spends all of her meager earnings before the end of the month, and loves staying online all the time to acquire coupons for limited offers as qiang qiang zu.

She also loves staying at home as otaku, and prefers herbivorous men, who are usually gentle and very polite toward women and tend to keep a lukewarm relationship with them. And Chen herself is a kind-hearted, plain-looking "post-it" girl, always ready to help others and almost immediately forgotten afterward, just like post-it notes that people use and throw away daily.

"The Internet has changed the reading habits of today's young people - the foremost importance is to collect information as quickly and accurately as possible," says Liang Li, CEO of an events company specializing in promotion through Internet and online projects.

"Such labels fit certain needs just right by describing the characteristic of a group with a vivid phrase of no more than five words," he adds.

These buzzwords originate from popular TV dramas, books or similar Japanese terms.

The labels are either intriguing metaphors or concise descriptions.

As she describes on her blog, Chen is a typical "post-it" girl, bianlitie nu, plain in every field of life - appearance, capability, presence, style, etc.

Her colleagues always call for her help, but rarely recognize her significance as a second-year assistant. Her friends love hanging out with her but won't think of giving her a call if she happens to miss any of the gatherings.

And her ex-boyfriend broke up with her because "he thought I was too ordinary, too plain and too unexciting," Chen says.

Less beautiful reality

The term first arose from a popular Taiwanese TV drama in 2008, about the cliched story of a post-it girl finding true love with a young, handsome and wealthy CEO.

At the start of the TV series, the protagonist is described as a "post-it" girl - someone convenient that you need all the time just like post-it notes. But she is also someone you forget immediately afterward.

Many young viewers found themselves relating to the protagonist, making the term and the drama suddenly hot topics. The TV series became the highest-rated love drama ever aired in Taiwan, and also a popular one on the Chinese mainland.

"When I was little, I dreamed of becoming a princess living in a castle just like every little girl," Chen says. "But as I grew up, I realize the 'less beautiful' reality that I'm just average in every possible way. But there is nothing wrong with being average, is there?"

Her struggle is not only shared by thousands of other "post-it" girls, but also by numerous guotie nan, or "fried dumpling" man, the male version of "post-it" girls. The term is drawn from a recent online serial drama, which describes the male protagonist as a "fried dumpling" man.

The fried dumpling is a common breakfast snack in Shanghai that one can eat as a meal sometimes, but can also live perfectly well without. Similarly, the "fried dumpling" man is often a gentle friend who treats all his female friends well. Yet, it is difficult for a woman to be crazily in love with a "fried dumpling" man.

It refers to those who work far more than the required eight hours a day, mostly voluntarily. The phrase is drawn from guo lao si, or karoshi, the Japanese term for "death from overwork." Guo laomo, or model of models, are the ones directly facing the risk of kaorshi.

The word is drawn from the Chinese saying that "a phoenix flies out of a poor hill," and refers to a young man with roots among generations of peasants from remote villages that finally enters a good university in a big city and is expected to bring changes to his whole family.

Because of numerous TV dramas and talk shows, "phoenix men" are notorious for being calculative and egotistic with self-contempt, especially when they are married to "peacock women."

It refers to princelings, children from families of senior government officials. They are notorious for their domineering practices and other misdeeds that annoy the public through many examples, such as the one known as "my father is Li Gang" when an intoxicated driver Li Qiming ran over two female university students on the campus of Hebei University in Baoding City, Hebei province.

As Li tried to run away he yelled, "My father is Li Gang, just call the police if you dare." It was later discovered that his father Li Gang is a deputy bureau chief of a local police station.

It is a combination of the English word "free" and the German word "arbeiter," which means workers. The literal translation is "free workers" and refers to those who work only when they feel they need some money, with a work schedule even more flexible than freelancers.

They are mostly in fields such as IT, advertising or other media outlets, where they can trade their well-known expertise for more freedom.

This word is the opposite of "phoenix man" and refers to women brought up in glass houses in big cities. They have no experience of any failure in life, are deeply loved and spoiled by their parents and often consider money insignificant, due to their wealthy family background.


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