Diaosi, an online Chinese buzzword which can be loosely translated as “loser”, has been embraced by many young Internet users. At Civil China, Chris Marquis and Zoe Yang carried out a weibo content analysis, and found that the 2012 3D release of Titanic contributed to the term’s evolving use:
The first spike in April can largely be attributed to the release of the 3D version of Titanic on April 10th, which accounted for almost half of the posts under “success.” Many people explain Titanic’s love story as a good example of a “Diaosi” (Jack) successfully capturing the heart of a goddess (Rose) from the rich man (高富帅).
[…] This period is characterized by movies and other stories about Diaosi fighting back successfully despite disadvantages, which slowly changed people’s perception of Diaosi from negative to positive. In particular, netizens seem to identify Titanic as an allegory for young Chinese men who are locked out of opportunities due to their birth status. By identifying Jack as a “diaosi,” the “diaosi” becomes a heroic figure. [Source]
Some social watchers believe that as China’s economic slowdown dims prospects for the country’s high-end markets, diaosi as a group may be a new catalyst for domestic demand. From Claire Zhang and David M. Barreda at The Atlantic:
In consumer attitudes, diaosi value quality and fashion the most, while only fewer than 10 percent value necessities, suggesting that though everyone identifies as diaosi, they still want to pursue a high quality of life.
[…] The survey demonstrates that only one third of single diaosi have a significant other, or, on average only one in three males have a girlfriend. Additionally, the majority of diaosi are between 20-30 years old, the prime period for dating. Thus, socializing is truly the diaosi‘s greatest demand. [Source]
Others even view diaosi as a potential force to push for social change. From Jing Gao at Ministry of Tofu:
Belonging to the upper or even the middle class may run the risk of being alienated by the mainstream and even coming in for social hostility now that the wealth gap is wider than ever. And people line up with the diaosi class also to indirectly protest the ‘privileged class’ and the rigidly stratified Chinese society, where one’s success has too much to do with his pedigree and too little with his hard work. The Red nobility, the second generation of the rich, the famous or powerful have paths full of roses readily available in front of them, but one with humble upbringing will be too disadvantaged to be financially successful, regardless of how hard they try.
[…] A recent People’s Daily editorial criticizing the post-1980 generation as languid non-achievers immediately created a backlash on the Internet. One blog post on Sina Weibo stormed, “Baby formula is poisoned by you guys. Rivers stink terribly. The air is filled with apocalytic despair. Housing prices rise faster than anything. Bad realtors and evil landlords make even renting a place like a battle… Now, you teach me how to stop being languid as a post-80? I am damn fortunate to be alive!”
[…] And once they become too impatient or too unhappy, they may wake up from trance and start to push for real social changes. [Source]
See also Underdogs Find Success in ‘Diaosi’ Identity, via CDT.