- On 4th May, China Youth Day, Keep released a campaign called “Don’t Label the Youths” (“别叫我青年”). Reflecting the modern Chinese youth’s creative, rebellious, and authentic identity, the campaign received over a thousand engagements on its Weibo account.
- Society is prone to labelling youths. Aside from “neijuan” and “tang ping”, as an only child, Chinese youths are stereotypically self-centered and spoiled. However, an intern at Keep demonstrates that actions speak louder than society’s words: the youths are, indeed, brave souls with an altruistic nature.
- Young Chinese might “lie flat” when facing challenges; but most of the time, they go all-in for their passions and beliefs, taking relentless, practical steps to achieve their goals in the real world. Instead of defining the youths, we should treat each soul as an individual and see their unlimited potential from within.
Keep is a Chinese fitness app launched in 2015 by Beijing Calories Technology, offering in-app fitness videos, online communities, and in-person workout programs. In 2021, Keep was reported to have more than 34.4 million monthly active users, with 74% aged under 30.
On 4th May, China Youth Day, Keep released a campaign called “Don’t Label the Youths” (“别叫我青年”), using screen-recording narratives to feature a Keep intern’s process of planning the campaign along with five other interns. Reflecting the modern Chinese youth’s creative, rebellious, and authentic identity, the campaign received over a thousand engagements on its Weibo account.
Chinese youths don’t always “lie flat”
The campaign is a 6-minute screen recording video of Jue’s desktop, keeping track of every detail from her thoughts to her actions, and engagement with five other interns.
The recording starts with a private chat, with Jue’s supervisor assigning her a campaign called “Defining the Youths”. Just when Jue was typing excuses to escape the project, the supervisor suddenly informed her of a potential promotion upon completing this task – and of course, Jue immediately deleted the excuses in the chat box and sent a firm “yes”.
Jue’s mindset is alike to millions of young Chinese in the workplace. They often feel exhausted by the overly competitive “nei juan” (involution) working culture and want to “tang ping” (lie flat); but when something crucial comes along, they will put 120% effort and focus into it.
“Self-discipline is the ultimate path to freedom”
The second intern featured in the video is Juan, who is working on Keep’s influencer outreach projects while finishing up his graduate school essays. Juan came to the office at 8 am and worked for hours without even taking a sip of water. Later during the interns’ video chat, Juan was running on a treadmill while participating in the conversation.
As Juan said, working out provides a sense of stability that helps him fight the stress and uncertainties from external environments. Under the impact of the pandemic, young Chinese employees often felt overworked and worried about being laid off at any second.
Therefore, lots of them picked up the habit of working out and meditation, hoping to gain a sense of confidence and stability during these uncertain times. Keep deeply believes in the positivity that comes with working out and claimed “self-discipline is the ultimate path to freedom” as its slogan, hoping to bring young Chinese a healthier life both physically and mentally.
“Spoiled child” or “brave soul”?
The campaign then presented a video of the intern Ao who is featured by a news site: when Ao saw a woman being harassed at a bus stop, she immediately stood up and called out the bully, even though the other party was obviously stronger and taller than her. Upon receiving endorsements from the public, Ao also proposed Keep add a women’s self-defense course to their content library.
Society is prone to labelling certain groups of people, including youths. Except for “neijuan” and “tang ping”, Chinese youths are stereotypically self-centered and spoiled since the majority of Gen Zs are only-child, and therefore, gained all the attention from their families. However, Ao’s actions spoke louder than the words of society – the youths are, indeed, brave souls with altruistic natures.
Youths shouldn’t be labelled
After a round of chatting, Jue turned back to her document and deleted all the bullet points – the labels such as “neijuan” and “tang ping” that she thought would represent modern Chinese youths.
The final project she presented was several lines of text: “Dear everyone: after much consideration, I don’t think youths can be labelled. They might “lie flat” when facing challenges; but most of the time, they go all-in for their passions and beliefs, taking relentless, practical steps to achieve their goals in the real world. Instead of defining the youths, we should treat each of them as a different soul and see their unlimited potential from within.”
At the end of the video, Jue’s campaign idea gets approved by the leaders and earned rounds of applause.
With the unrealistically high expectations from society and family, current Chinese youths long to find their authentic self-identity. Keep, a fitness group that primarily targets Chinese Gen Z, won the audiences’ hearts with their Youth Day campaign; full of insights, authenticity, and creativity, reflecting the rebellious nature rooted in the youths’ DNA.