Letters | What China’s ‘lie flat’ youth and global climate strikers have in common
- Youth using their own bodies as a site of resistance is not surprising, as embodying resistance is the most common and accessible way to express powerlessness and respond to existential crises
Feeling trapped and wronged by the social structure, lie-flatters defy normative notions of success and refuse to live the future expected of them.
The contradiction between the official criticism of the philosophy’s unproductivity and the mounting hype around youth using their own bodies as a site of resistance is, however, no surprise.
Indeed, embodying resistance is the most common and accessible way to express one’s powerlessness and respond to existential crises. The phenomenon is certainly not unique to Chinese youth and indeed not uncommon in developed regions especially.
While movements such as birthstrikes and “lying flat” remain marginal, they exemplify perfectly the collective existential angst shared by youth around the world, who feel that they are being denied the future and as a result have signed out of complying with social norms and chosen to rebel against societal expectations.
Frustration, such as with the future, is oftentimes intangible and cannot be quantified, but when young people, supposedly so full of aspirations and hope, take their bodies as sites of resistance, it is a reminder to all that a liveable city is more than just one that is prosperous and stable, but also empowering.
Gillian Tam, Hung Hom