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English>>Life & Culture

Losers' can flatter themselves in any culture

By Wei Baoliang  (China Daily)

08:16, December 20, 2012

(China Daily)

Like other languages, Mandarin has a long evolutionary history during which it takes on new words. In the past year or so, diaosi, a Chinese Internet term, arrived on the scene. Diao refers a man's sex organ and si means hair.

Of course, diaosi is a coarse, informal term. Originally it referred to the down-at-heel, those who are unattractive physically and lack social privileges or resources.

Diaosi can be from all corners of the country. Generally they are from the countryside or from the urban petty bourgeois. Some are science graduates who have found that despite the time and money put into obtaining a degree, the rewards are scant.

They may be poor people, farm workers, small-handicrafts makers, industrial workers, disgruntled employees and distressed graduates or undergraduates. They may simply be lazy and like to present themselves as self-employed.

Thanks to the Internet, more young Chinese now quite like the idea of self-mockery and call themselves diaosi, which has helped the term take off.

The word caters to a desire by millions to express their repressed feelings about life and its pressures. As a result, more young people are attaching the word to themselves, even though they are nowhere near as underprivileged as the original term was meant to suggest.

Basically, diaosi have the following common characteristics:

First, it is a reflection of the anxiety and resentment of many youths who fret that social hierarchy is generally formed by family power, and that it will not change easily. Second-generation wealthy youths enjoy easy and prosperous lives, while ordinary folks struggle for limited resources.

Describing themselves as diaosi is a way of expressing collective resentment and disappointment.

Second, diaosi reflects that youths take themselves less seriously. In claiming to be diaosi, these people are affirming the hard work it takes to achieve personal progress. Their cynical outlook on life helps to release disappointment and cheers them up.

Third, diaosi often long after an idyllic soul mate. The problem is that the person they want to hook up with would be anything but attracted to them, leading to sexual frustration, loneliness and depression.

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