With the development of the Internet, new buzzwords are springing up faster than mushrooms. And many of these words and phrases quickly gain popularity among young people, sometimes to the point that those who don't use them are considered "square" and out of touch.
The well-known Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang - whose recent releases include Back to 1942 and If You Are the One - expressed his aversion to the popular buzzword diaosi on his microblog.
Literally speaking, the word diaosi is made up of two Chinese characters: diao meaning penis, and si referring to the hair on said appendage.
The word is used as almost the polar opposite to gaofushuai (a tall, rich and handsome man) and baifumei (a rich, beautiful woman with snow-white skin) and usually refers to young people with ordinary looks and a low-paying job.
Feng Xiaogang posted a statement on his microlog after an overseas friend asked him what exactly the oft-heard term actually meant.
Saying that it is "shameful hair on the male organ," Feng criticized as "mentally disabled" those people who use the word to describe themselves or others.
Diaosi derives from yisi, which is what fans of Chinese football player Li Yi call themselves. Admirers of other football players sarcastically changed the term to diaosi to tease them during an online debate.
Originally, the word appeared to be a rough synonym for the English word "loser." But in the same way that all languages evolve, the word has acquired wider connotations through repeated use.
It can sometimes refer to people from a modest background with average academic qualifications, or who attended an unremarkable university.
Diaosi can also be people with little motivation to achieve, or even those who are unlucky in love due to lack of confidence and interpersonal skills.
But today even seemingly successful young people call themselves diaosi. Han Han, the famous writer and racing driver once called himself "a diaosi in suburban Shanghai." Mayday, a popular band from Taiwan, have been known to call themselves diaosi when offstage.
But Feng held that diaosi is an "indecent" word and that people who use it are guilty of a form of self-loathing.
My boss told me that she once wrote a caption to a photograph on her microblog in which she called her daughter a diaosi. She was then upbraided by one of her colleagues who told her not to use such a word to describe her own daughter.
Everyone has the right to select the words they want to express themselves with. I used to feel uncomfortable saying diaosi because I don't think diao is a word that a well brought up person should use.
But now when I hear the word, I do not even think of its original meaning. It is a term of self-deprecation - nothing more, nothing less.
It may never appear in a dictionary or a serious book, but there must be a reason why this word has been so widely embraced. I think it is because some people want to express dissatisfaction with themselves and with society, while others use it to lighten the pressure to achieve so much in life.
In addition, Internet slang that doesn't have any relevance to life will quickly disappear from common parlance. And that will be the ultimate judge of whether diaosi lives or dies.
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT