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August 23, 2010

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Hot-tempered? Online vendors keep you cool

THE scorching heat seems to be getting plenty of people hot under the collar - and boosting an online business where vendors are paid to be professional "punch bags," allowing callers, mostly young people, to vent their anger over the phone or online.

Many young people, overwhelmed by stresses in their daily lives, are complaining to vendors about the heat that's making them get angry over trivial matters more frequently and much more easily.

"Do the hot days have an end? I don't feel like doing anything all day long except sitting in an air-conditioned room, cursing the scorching sun," one young man complained to an online vendor who offers the service on

"Young people, especially students forced by their parents to take supplementary lessons in their summer holidays or young migrant workers working directly under the sun, are becoming our main customers," said Jiangsu Province-based online vendor Li Qing.

Li is among more than 400 people on offering to leave customers in a good mood after they lend an ear to their anger, sorrow or other emotions.

Sales of the service for many vendors have increased about 15 to 30 percent over the past week as temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.

Of course, the "punch bags" require a fee to recycle the bad emotions and leave the customer satisfied.

Li charges 1.5 yuan for 10 minutes as a listener and promises he will never fight back however much his customers curse and scold him.

Prices range from 1 yuan to 500 yuan for 10 minutes depending on the type of service offered. Customers can even have vendors quarrel with them for an additional fee.

"During the service when I chat with my customers online, very often they would ask me to change my name to their parents' name," said another vendor, surnamed Ning. "Then they take me as their parents to scold them harshly."

Ning said he was a student studying psychology at Changsha University and started the business because he felt sorry for young people as they were living under great pressure and didn't have a way to give vent to their anger and despair.

"When they find everyone turning their backs on them, some trivial matters may become the direct cause of an outburst of their emotions, such as the weather," Ning said.

Yu Fengyi, a local psychologist, said the booming business was a sign that people, especially the young, were seeking a feeling of intimacy with other people because they were lonely and stressed.

"The problem for young people emerged long time ago when they used to give vent to their inner feelings by playing video games or insulting others in online chat rooms," said Yu. "But now their human instinct as social animals calls them to seek help from people in their social circle."

Yu said the "punch bag" service might help relieve their anger, but advised young people to consult professional psychologists if they needed help.


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