Beijing [China], July 1 (ANI): Chinese students, who are graduating amid the country's economic turmoil, and are staring at an ultra-competitive environment in the work market, have come up with a unique style of graduation photos, The Washington Post reported.
A small but sizable cohort of China's Class of 2023 has marked the occasion by posting photos of themselves looking completely worn out. Sprawled on the ground, their faces covered by their tasselled caps. Bent over railings with their hands dangling listlessly.
On social media, they're often accompanied by hashtags like "zombie-style" or "lying flat."
The Chinese economy is struggling to emerge from three paralyzing years of zero-covid policies. Unemployment, especially among the youth is staggering. According to the latest statistics, some 20 per cent of people between ages 16 and 24 are jobless, The Post reported.
At this juncture, a record 11.6 million people who have graduated from college are finding their prospects bleak, and adopting a "lying flat" -- or "Tangping" in Chinese -- mentality.
Lying flat calls for getting by with minimum effort, and the buzzword symbolizes subtle, passive defiance. The mindset has been publicly denounced and discouraged by the government.
Tangping has emerged as a rallying cry among Chinese millennials and Gen-Z'ers who have had enough of the rat race and want to opt out of China's intense work culture and the social expectations that come with it, The Post stated.
For some students, posting unconventional graduation photos online is not only a reflection of their mental state but also one last chance to just have fun with classmates before leaving school.
The authors gave examples of several students, who are actually a part of this.
Brenda Lu studied media and communication at Nanjing University says that her lying flat is about avoiding repetitive and meaningless internal friction, and it means that she wants to choose her own way of life
For the 21-year-old, the lying-flat graduation photos are a show of defiance against social expectations and China's rigid educational system.
"Throughout the three years of the pandemic, my classmates were just stuck in the dormitory taking online courses, like being locked up in prison," she said, adding, "So many people have had no social life for three years and are desperate to find a way out. This year's job search can only be described as particularly dismal."
Jessie Hu an English student at Lanzhou University, after failing to get accepted to grad school, sent her resume to five companies earlier this year, but wasn't selected anywhere.
"I didn't even pass the first round," said the 22-year-old.
She states that for her laying flat on the grass of her campus for her graduation photos, is a reflection of feeling overwhelmed by the choices in front of her.
"Most of my peers and I had only one goal in high school, which was to get high scores and go to a good college," she said. "But when you are graduating from college, there are so many options. Take public servant exams, apply for grad schools, study abroad or go find a job. ... You can't make up your mind because you don't have a specific goal, so you just get slapped down instead," The Post quoted her as saying.
21-year-old Walnut Liu, who studied at Xian University of Posts and Telecommunications has been worrying about getting a job after graduation ever since her freshman year.
Despite having a degree in automation technology, which should position her well for a job at a semiconductor company, she hasn't had any luck.
She sent her resume to about 300 e-commerce companies and eventually got two offers. But she turned them down because they paid only 830 USD a month.
"I began to think that I can't find a good job based on my resume, so I thought I'd go to graduate school."
Her lying-flat graduation photos were partly about fun, partly a reflection of her pandemic college life.
She also feels missed out looking at the current students who can go to music festivals and bars.
"We didn't get to experience much," she said.
Jingying Li (21) studied financial management at Zhuhai College of Science and Technology felt inspired after seeing the first lying-flat graduation photos
"I thought it was very refreshing...really fun and exciting compared with the usual graduation photos. Plus, you don't have to worry about your facial expressions, and it's nice to take pictures while feeling mentally and physically relaxed," The Post quoted her as saying.
Li, whose college experience was marred by the pandemic recently finished an internship as a broadcast host and is trying to remain upbeat even in this difficult job market.
"Negative news is like a stone thrown into the sea: It sinks and disappears," she said, adding, "You can choose to spend your day happily or unhappily. I choose to be happy."
Rain Xu (22) studied digital media art at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in Hangzhou. He and her friends wanted to be part of the graduation photo trend, so they sprawled on auditorium floors and flopped over rows of seats, The Washington Post reported.
"This is what the mindset of college students looks like nowadays," she said. "Three years out of our four-year college life, we were in the pandemic. It's like not having gone to college at all."
Xu, who studied digital media art, hasn't found a full-time job yet and is planning to do an internship as a secretary looking for a suitable job.
"There are layoffs and the salaries have been dropping," she said, noting that her friends with jobs are getting paid only 350 USD a month.
Xu is thinking about studying abroad or graduate school, but her parents want her to take the civil servant exam. As a backup, she also has a teaching certificate.
"The rent in Hangzhou is so high. How do you live [on that]?," she said, adding, "If I can't do anything right, I think there is still demand for art teachers."
Dexter Yang, another 22-year-old, who studied theoretical physics at the South China University of Technology, posed on the ground, covering his face with his graduation cap; giving the message 'The job market is depressing'.
"I think the trend reflects how the years of the pandemic have affected people," he said.
Yang is planning to do a doctorate and become a professor but is also feeling conflicting about his choices.
"For new graduates, it's a blow to our confidence, especially when you see layoffs from big companies," he added.
"Of course, the ideal would be to choose what you like, but you also have to eat, right?," The Post quoted Yang as saying. (ANI)
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