To be or not to be "diaosi"? Self-mockery in China goes viral

In just two months, the latest buzzword from the Internet, “diaosi”, has spread everywhere – from online forums to micro blogs and into real life. Many people even call themselves diaosi. How has the word diaosi become so popular that it is also a cultural phenomenon? Herein lie the lowdown on the diaosi.


In just two months, the latest buzzword from the Internet, “diaosi”, has spread everywhere – from online forums to micro blogs and into real life. Many people even call themselves diaosi. How has the word diaosi become so popular that it is also a cultural phenomenon? Herein lie the lowdown on the diaosi.


Where it began


The word originated in soccer player Li Yi’s “Tiebar” (a top Chinese bulletin board system on Baidu.com). There, fans of Li, who are called “yisi” in Chinese, not only talk about soccer but moan about their lives, work and relationships. The yisi, who are known for their rude and dirty language, were given the name diaosi by others who have seen their posts.



The character of diaosi


The word diaosi was coined first by single, young men who feel they have dead-end lives. Generally, men in this category earn little, are not good looking, and have difficulty winning promotion. Unlike their upper-class contemporaries, they lack influential families, useful social networks for their careers, and most importantly, suitable women to marry.



“I’m just a diaosi; poor and plain-looking, who will marry me?” is a common sentiment uttered by many; half self-mockery, half reality.
 Many young men call themselves diaosi because they feel they are among the lowest echelons of society. They suffer low self-esteem and have stopped trying to improve their lives.



Diaosi culture reflects social changes


According to Zhu Chongke, a professor in the School of Asia-Pacific Studies at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the popularity of the word diaosi stems from the fact that it was created by common people and thus resonates with a huge population.



“Labeling yourself a diaosi offers an outlet for people to mock themselves and relieve pressure, hence it spread quickly,” Zhu told Xinhua News Agency.
 “The attitude is basically: ‘I already have little to lose, so why don’t I mock myself for fun?’.”



“Society hasn’t offered an effective channel for young people who don’t have an influential family background to receive promotion at work,” Zhu added.
 The diaosi phenomenon reflects not just a youth culture problem, but larger social issues. Ke Qianting is an associate professor in gender studies at Tsinghua University.



“The pressure of marriage intensifies anxiety among this group,” Ke discussed on Sohu.com.
 “Many of those young men claim to be diaosi, since they can’t find a proper woman to marry. It reflects a deep sense of loss.”
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Comments (2)

  • Good article. Ive heard this word being used a lot lately. Thanks for posting an article that reflects what is happening on the streets and internet. I think many laowai (me included at times) are so disconnected from the evolving culture of China (mainly due to language issues), despite the fact that we live here.

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  • Things,problems virtually relatively exist. I think this kind of problem(hard to get involved in a serious and committed relationship or marriage,extremely high frequently happening to two extreme groups of society. Either diaosi or excellent overage youths who have high demands on the mates or even have no clues about what exactly they want.As a matter of fact,as long as you keep being you,positively living your own happy single live without way too high expectation,things would always work out

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