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So to Speak – Episode 15, 28.06.2021

躺平 – tǎngpíng – lying flat

When do you have the most stable balance? That’s right when you’re lying down. Might this also apply to work-life balance? In China, at any rate, lying flat (躺平tǎngpíng, from 躺tǎng = “to lie down” and 平píng “flat”) is currently trending as a social media buzzword. It can be understood as a kind of silent rebellion of the young generation against an educational and working environment in China’s large metropolises that is increasingly characterized by competitive pressure and dwindling opportunities for advancement. Many young Chinese are dissatisfied with the bottom line after years of swotting (at school and university) and burning (at work). Opting out of the competition seems like an attractive way out. So they lie flat instead of standing athwart. Let the others wear themselves out.

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