'Zibo barbecue,' 'ChatGPT,' 'mediocre earning youth': selection for buzzword of the year launched in Beijing
Published: Nov 21, 2023 10:30 PM
ChatGPT Photo: VCG

ChatGPT Photo: VCG

The Israel-Hamas conflict, China-US relations, ChatGPT… The selection for the buzzword of the year was launched in Beijing on Monday. Held for 18 consecutive years, the annual event this year is being jointly organized by the National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Center, the Commercial Press, and Xinhuanet.

The event aims to select one Chinese character and one word that depict China and the world for that year. It encourages the public to document their daily lives, reflect on the development and changes in Chinese society and the world, which will also enhance people's understanding of the beauty of the Chinese language.

The selection process consists of three stages: launch, voting, and announcement. The top 10 popular Chinese buzzwords, top 10 Internet slang words, and top 10 new words will be chosen during this process. On December 20, the character and word of the year will be revealed.

During the launch ceremony, a batch of recommended characters and words were released. A list of recommended buzzwords for China, including the Belt and Road, the Global Civilization Initiative, and Asian Games, was unveiled. Additionally, keywords such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, China-US relations, and ChatGPT were recommended for the world list.

In a video presented by the video-sharing app Kuaishou, terms such as "Village BA," "Zibo barbecue," "entrepreneurship in street vending," and "mediocre earning youth" also made the list. These terms, selected by an algorithm from the social media platform, to a certain degree, reflect the changes in attitudes toward life among young Chinese following the pandemic.

Take "mediocre earning youth," for instance. It refers to young people who are self-sufficient, earning money gradually by accumulating small profits every day, and living a modest life. They do not seek to make it big but instead focus on finding joy and value in life. They are good at discovering the beauty around them and gain a sense of satisfaction and achievement from it.

The rise of mediocre earning youth is closely linked to the rapid development of society and the economy. An increasing number of young people are no longer content with traditional career paths; instead, they aspire to realize their self-worth through their own efforts and innovation. Consequently, many mediocre earning youth set up stalls or open small shops. They begin with practical considerations, opting to pursue what they enjoy, and gradually get started. Even if their earnings are modest initially, over time, they can accumulate their first pot of gold.

Visitors flock to a barbecue stall in Zibo, Shandong Province on April 29, 2023. Photo: VCG

Visitors flock to a barbecue stall in Zibo, Shandong Province on April 29, 2023. Photo: VCG

Zibo barbecue provides another illustrative example. Zibo, a city in East China's Shandong Province, gained popularity on Chinese social media due to its local specialty, Zibo barbecue. According to media reports, local accommodation bookings in Zibo have surged by 800 percent for the May Day holidays in 2023 compared to 2019, and keyword searches for "Zibo barbecue" on one platform increased by 770 percent year-on-year.

College students from neighboring cities accounted for a large proportion of visitors. They humorously refer to their travel style as "special forces-style tourism," reflecting the trend among college students or young people in general to explore numerous attractions and indulge in diverse cuisines while minimizing both time and expenses.

Whether having an extended holiday or accumulating substantial funds before the trip is not important for these travelers. When the moment feels right, they embark on their journey, even if it's just a weekend or a single day. What matters most to them is the ability to savor life, explore the world, and delve into self-discovery through a journey that leaves no room for regrets.

As depicted in a video on social media, a multitude of people lined up, eagerly waiting for tables, with many enjoying barbecue at outdoor seating. When someone in the crowd initiated a rendition of a popular Chinese song, all the strangers joined in, creating a joyous atmosphere.

This emerging trend can be viewed as a positive indicator for the complete recovery and continued flourishing of China's domestic tourism market. It underscores the diverse preferences in domestic tourism and a novel attraction model appealing to young tourists.