Why the 'Feizhai' phenomenon is bad news for China

May 31, 2018 08:30
Feizhais like to refer to coke as happy water. Photo: fanw8.com

'Feizhai' is quickly becoming the most popular way to describe a certain group of Chinese youngsters.

Breaking down the phrase, 'Fei' means fat and 'Zhai' refers to the habit of staying at home most of the time and being obsessed with computers.

Well, most Feizhais do have full-time jobs, although some are unemployed and some are still students.

It is said that because of the surging cost of living, this Feizhai group is forced to work long hours and still don’t quite make enough money to match the rising rentals and consumer prices. They don’t have much energy or money left to go out and socialize after a long day’s work and hence choose to go home straight.

The emergence of this group also has something to do with the proliferation of social media platforms and online shopping sites.

Because it is so easy to get everything without leaving home, such as ordering food deliveries, or online entertainment such as video games, Feizhai can get most of the things sorted out by using the smartphone or the computer.

Feizhais are typically quite obsessed with affordable physical stimulus of all sorts, including junk food like coke, pizza, chips, TV dramas, online games, etc, anything that can offer them immediate joy without costing a lot.

It’s fair to say Feizhais are valuable customers of a large number of internet firms, such as Alibaba, Tencent, Dazhong Dianping, short-form video app Douyin, and video-sharing site Bilibili.

However, the lifestyle of eating junk food and staying at home all the time will make one grow fatter and fatter. And they would fall into a vicious cycle and become even less confident in social situations.

So this Feizhai lifestyle is bad for personal health and definitely not a good thing for the country as a whole.

Also, quite a few of these Feizhais have given up hopes for marriage, a situation that could worsen the nation’s aging population problem.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist