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Ironically known as "China's fifth great invention" (after the historical paper-making, the compass, gunpowder, and printing), memes are now an inherent part of Chinese people's daily lives. It's almost a little bit weird to talk to your Chinese friends without using memes.
They are a useful tool to express attitude and emotions, or to say what cannot be said directly.
As China's Spring Festival approaches, various memes are being saved in mobile phones so people can chat with the friends and family with whom they'll spend the holiday.
An increasing number of memes are needed to use in different circumstances like asking for red envelopes, wishing people a happy new year or good luck, and "dissing" other people.
"Have you fallen in love with someone?" "When will you tie the knot?" "When will you give birth?" "What's your annual salary?"
Faced with such serious, private questions, a growing number of young people in China almost fear going home for Spring Festival; being grilled on money and family pressure on marriage are two almost universal concerns.
[Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
To help you cope with different situations, here's a practical meme strategy.
If you're a Chinese reader, it may inspire you in an upcoming meme battle. If you're a foreign reader, it may help you better understand the most popular memes with Chinese people, especially the young generation.
Type one: Fending off awkard family questions
If your relatives ask you one of those awkward questions about love or money, why not go on the counterattack?
If they ask about your love life, ask them about their children's private lives in return. If they ask how much money you earn, respond with a detailed inquiry on their savings. Just like the old Chinese saying: "Don't do to others what you don't want others to do to you."
Type two: (Fake) smile it off
Gavin Thomas, an eight-year-old boy from the US, known as "the boy with a fake smile" in China, has gained online fame thanks to his unique facial expressions.
The "the boy with a fake smile" has become a popular choice for people encountering questions they don't want to answer.
Also, the boy's smile is considered a symbol of helplessness among young Chinese people.
Type three: Take it easy, like Buddha
"Buddha-like youngsters", were mostly born in the 90s, claim that they "see through the vanity of life", and keep a casual and calm mindset toward career and life.
In answering tough questions during the holiday, they usually adopt the attitude of not caring. After all, "love and peace" takes center stage in their lives.
Type four: Send it in a red envelope
"Red envelope" fever swept the country when internet giants WeChat, Alibaba, and Baidu rolled out programs allowing users to send cash through electronic payments.
It is based on the Chinese tradition of hongbao, where money is given to family and friends as a gift.
During the festival season, most people will get many more red envelopes than usual, so red envelope-based memes are always a good choice.