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Mutual compliment chat groups, a new trend in China

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:18, March 15, 2019

Screenshot of mutual compliment chat group of Fudan University

Feeling low? Try this –

“I just want to be praised, pls do.”

“It is such a virtue to directly express yourself when most people choose to hide.”

“Your profile photo reflects your taste of fashion, admire!”

“I am on a diet, but I ate a cake, compliment required anyway.”

“At least you realize you need to lose weight, good enough.”

“It is very dangerous if you have low blood sugar, cake is a perfect choice.”

How about now?

Above are some text messages from chat groups of students at Fudan and Tsinghua universities, two well-known universities in China.

The two universities are also seen as the revival places of such group chat, known as “Kuakua Group” in Chinese, or mutually compliment chat groups, which helped born an on online forum in China known as Douban in 2014, where people seek approval by saying mutual compliments to each other.

More and more of these types of chat groups are springing across China. But now, with the help of so-called “Chinese super apps,” another function has been added: healing minds.

People who ask for compliments in the group can receive a spontaneous ovation for no reason at all, which is the only rule of the mutual compliment chat groups. In return, people who compliment can see more sparkling points in others. Of course, both sides’ deeds are done out of good will.

Such an emphatic and courteous way of expressing enthusiastic approval quickly has become a fad among many young people. According to some online managers of mutual compliment chat groups, every university has at least 20 such chat groups, and member numbers are still increasing, The Paper reported.

Unlike apps to connect acquaintances and friends, mutual compliment chat groups are more anonymous, which is an automatically user-generated feature in an acquaintance networking social media platform, which, to some extent, audaciously stimulates people’s desire for communicating.

Cyberbullying has caused alarm about people’s online behaviors and expressions, especially on social media platforms featuring acquaintance networking. The mutual compliment chat groups satisfy the desire for demanding respect.

“People’s over-reliance on seeking external approval signals their low self-esteem and pressure either from work or study. College students are a typical group of people whose life has just begun, and it is very common for them to feel low when they graduate from college and try to find their role in society,” said an opinion article published by the psychology department of Beijing Normal University.

Group members spoke highly of the healing function of the chat groups, where they are able to find confidence and empathy that can be hard to find in daily life. It is regarded as a healing process for some, but a hypocritical conspiracy for some others.

For example, some have already sensed the business opportunity and are now providing complimenting services to customers, which undermines the value of the hypocritical compliments. The price for such services on Taobao, a Chinese online shopping giant, is about 30-220 yuan ($5-34) for a certain period of time, during when hundreds of compliments will pour into customers’ WeChat account, regardless of whether they feel blown out or not.

Complimenting is a way to relax for some and a purgatory for others. However, hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Miao Wanyi, Bianji)

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