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'Slash life' trend allows workers to chase their dreams

Updated: 2023-02-08 08:34 ( Xinhua )
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The topic of China's "slash youth", referring to those refusing to be defined or bound by just one personal identity and choosing to undertake multiple careers, has fueled heated debate on social media, drawing attention to the diverse pursuits of the younger generation.

On Douban, a Chinese social networking platform, the topic "slash life on and off work" has attracted about 11,000 posts and has been viewed over 400 million times.

China's young people are keen to share their slash youth stories online, presenting themselves as multiple and sometimes distinct identities, such as a nurse and model, a teacher and stand-up comedian, and an engineer and musician.

Xing Eryang, who founded the Douban topic in 2021, is a 31-year-old female resident in Beijing and is amazed to find her "slash life" philosophy echoed by so many of her peers.

After graduating in 2014, Xing landed her job at a public institution. While staying diligent about her daytime work, she is developing her hobbies, including stand-up comedy, vlogging and podcasting, into secondary careers during her downtime.

The "slash life on and off work "has attracted many to share their different lifestyles, which indicates their views about facing the unified "examination" called "life", according to Xing.

"I prefer the word 'slash' because a diverse lifestyle is like using a knife to cut our life into different parts. One part works hard during the daytime, while the other part can still chase after truth, goodness and inner beauty during our personal time, though this part of us may be less sophisticated and sociable," she explains.

A 26-year-old woman nicknamed Weiheng, from the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, and Tang Yuhan, a 27-year-old man in Xuancheng city, East China's Anhui province, are both participants in the online thread, with their stories garnering thousands of likes so far.

The two are both musicians in their spare time, even though they are thousands of miles apart and have different jobs in media and finance. Weiheng is now a vocalist in a post-hardcore band after work, while Tang plays the guitar in a death metal group.

Their passion for music has grown since college and they didn't abandon their enthusiasm, even after entering the workplace. Though they both faced doubts and worries from their family and colleagues at first, they stuck to their beliefs and won the respect and understanding of others.

"Their reaction showed the gap between the young and former generations. Before, my parents used to say, 'music cannot earn you money', so the band thing was regarded as a waste of time. However, for us, young people, we want to pursue whatever we love and are willing to pay for it," says Weiheng.

It is not only a U-turn in generational mentality, but also a reflection of the current, booming, entertainment sector. "In recent years, with the livestreaming, game and entertainment industries having their moment in China, the music industry has also seen a positive growth momentum. Some bands have raked in considerable money through live shows," she adds.

"I'm open to being whatever kind of employee I may become in different settings, but I will always be a guitarist. Every time I am upset by something at work, playing the guitar makes me feel better," says Tang. "Music is like lightning striking my heart and a storm exploding in my mind."

The two music fanatics utilize their nighttime to rehearse and then perform on holidays and weekends. Weiheng's band, Floating Soul, has released eight songs and signed a contract with a music agency, ready to launch albums and embark on a concert tour.

"The 'slash life' mania shows that, along with China's economic development, our society is becoming more and more diversified and inclusive, and it welcomes everyone's self-fulfillment," says Shi Yanrong, an associate researcher from the Institute of Japanese Studies, Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences. "Young people no longer have to rely on work and money for their sense of self-worth. They tend to practice a carpe diem philosophy and create their own identities."

The researcher adds that, against the background that people have multiple interests and are willing to pay for these interests nowadays, the "slash life" trend will drive the growth of a new economy.


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