Recently the laugh-provoking remark "我不想努力了" has become popular on the internet. The joke sort of reflects the mindset of a younger generation, who has been suffering from low incomes and high working hours for long and started to rebel it with a new working philosophy - "touching fish (摸魚)". The term came from a Chinese proverb "muddy waters make it easy to catch fish (混水摸魚)," which means that people could gain personal benefit by making use of a crisis or period of chaos.
China is famous for its 996 working hour system (working from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, 6 days per week), which is common among its big technology companies and start-ups. Numerous "Karoshi (working until they die)" and suicide cases have been reported due to this overwork culture. In January this year, a worker of a famous e-commerce platform "Pinduoduo" in China committed suicide, a few days after another employee died on the way home from the office.
Now it has received a backlash. According to Alice Yan, news reporter of South China Morning Post, young employees are disappointed by the working culture of long hours without reasonable pay and responding with "slacking off" in work.
As a famous Chinese Weibo blogger "Massage Bear" said:
“How hard you work depends on how much money you receive and never be serious about your work.”
“Once you work very hard, your colleagues will suffer bad luck. It’s because your boss will find that you are able to do the jobs of three people. In the end, your salary won’t get raised, but the boss will ask you to continue to work that hard.”
The blogger has literally taught the young employees how to put it into practice:
What is your opinion on this phenomenon? Let's have a talk about this on Tuesday!
Young employees rebel against Chinese work ethic by being lazy, refusing overtime, and hiding in the toilets. They call it ‘touching fish’
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https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/article/ ... y-refusing#
Self-Immolation and Suicide Among Chinese Tech Giants’ Employees
https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2021/01/s ... employees/
Why Chinese youngsters are embracing a philosophy of “slacking-off”
https://qz.com/1938809/why-chinese-youn ... cking-off/
Young Chinese Workers Trade the Grueling 996 for ‘Touching Fish’
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ching-fish
'Touching fish' craze sees China's youth find ways to laze amid '996' work culture
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/ ... rk-culture
In world of video game development, chronic overtime is endemic
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/ ... -overtime/
Questions for Discussion:
Q1. “Touching fish to resist 996 is nothing more than a kind of nonviolent non-cooperation in a harsh working environment and a difficult process of safeguarding rights.”
Do you agree with this statement? Or do you think these young employees are simply "being lazy"? Why?
Q2. If working 996 turns low-paying jobs into medium-paying jobs, do you think it is worth it? What would you do if you live in a world where housing prices are almost unaffordable and entertainment costs (online games/videos, etc.) are much lower? Will you still work hard?
Q3. This is a statement made by a Weibo user: "It is not reasonable that the boss gives me one cent but expects me to pay my 10-cents-worth in effort." Do you agree with this statement? What is your advice to the Generation Z? If you are a Gen Zer, what do you want to say to the older generations?
Q4. In your opinion, how many hours per day can we be productive at work? If your company expects you to work longer, what can you do?
Q5. Is 996 the result of insufficient labor law and labor union system? Does long working hours also happen in developed countries? What is the cause of long-hours culture?
Q6. "Crunch time" at work means, usually in gaming and software industries, the process of working nights and weekends to hit a tight deadline. Do you think such a situation can be avoided? What would you do, as an employer/employee, if your team is stuck with a permanent crunch time culture?
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