2017-11-16 13:26:39 Hayley Liu
If you have been following China's social media discussions over the past several weeks, you may have noticed that greasy middle-aged men have become a new social media phenomenon. At the centre of the controversy is an essay written by Feng Tang, titled "how to avoid becoming a greasy, dirty middle-aged man". The essay was published on October 27th, and has since drawn some 7.1 million views and over 2,000 comments.
Baidu Index, a Chinese keyword research tool has revealed that public interest in the topic surged two days later, registering 1,800 searches on that day alone. 48% of the people following the topic are aged between 30 and 39 and 35% aged between 40 and 49. The majority of followers also happen to be male (65%). The most frequently used search word is middle-aged, followed by "weisuo" (or sleazy) and "how to avoid becoming a greasy, dirty middle-aged man".
A middle-aged Chinese man with his flask
The essay first lamented the lapse of time and the loss of youth, as many of the author's once-young lads have entered middle age and become somewhat "greasy". It's not the first time that Chinese have used the word "greasy" to describe people, but it has never been used to lambaste the middle-aged. A day or two before Feng released his essay, another piece made the rounds online, listing a number of signs that show a man has entered the "greasy" middle-aged phase. Check how many you have.
1. Wears Buddhist prayer beads;
2. Wears traditional Chinese jackets like a Kung Fu master;
3. Recites poetry and weeps at parties;
4. Carries a flask of hot water with added red dates and goji berries;
5. Has a bulging waistline;
6. Hangs a string of keys on his belt;
7. Has long fingernails;
8. Wears long johns around the house;
9. Always boasts about the Pu'er tea collection at home;
10. Loves songs about the prairies, and often becomes nostalgic;
11. Wears a golden neck chain;
12. Wears suits and white socks;
To avoid becoming a greasy middle-aged man, Feng gave out his 10 pearls of wisdom:
- Never get fat.
- Never stop learning.
- Never stay still.
- Never talk about sex in public.
- Never recollect your past.
- Never talk down to the younger generation.
- Never be troublesome.
- Never stop buying.
- Never be dirty.
- Never judge people for their personal habits.
Feng, a doctor-turned-writer, has come to be known as a controversial figure for the lurid content of some of his books. Many readers find Feng's advice hollow. "The essay itself is greasy" reads the most liked comment on social media. Another argues that "essays on similar topics are only recommendable if written by young people and females. Instead, the essay slating the middle-aged by a middle-aged person is only intended as a way to brag, and bragging makes the middle-aged greasy."
Only three days later, grumpy middle-aged men staged a dramatic fightback on social media: they released 20 signs that a WOMAN has entered the greasy middle-aged phase, lambasting them for gossiping, being obsessed with lipstick and yoga as well as always whining about needing a better apartment and car.
Chinese Square Dancers
Male or female, the middle-aged are not the only downtrodden social group. The Chinese have long loved labelling each other: they dismiss children as "bear kids" (or wild kids); they despise "greasy" middle-aged men and they laugh at "square-dancing aunts". It seems that the young generation is the only survivor of this cyber-violence. Why is that so you may ask? Because they started it.