摆烂 (bǎi làn) (let it rot)
The definition of this term is to embrace the failure and stay in the situation rather than trying to aim higher because it is simply unattainable. This term originated from basketball in which a team deliberately loses because they have accepted that they will not win and to bring the game to an end quicker.
Many people use this term to describe their feeling of giving up because of all the uncertainties of the future. A lot of buzz came from this term on social media where a lot of the younger generation feel defeated and unable to find motivation to try harder for something better because of where we are economically. The work life is extremely tough, the salary is not enough, the housing market is too expensive for most of the salaried jobs, and there are outside responsibilities such as taking care of your parents as they get older while potentially having your own kids to take care of. These factors are all causing the younger generation to accept a more low-quality life and just stay at that level because there is not guarantee that if they continue working extremely hard that they will be able to achieve a higher quality of life. Many people are using this term online to build a sense of connection between everyone that feels the same way and to express these feelings out within themselves. They believe that instead of quiet quitting which is something before this term, they want to keep earning the income but put in minimum work because of the unchangeable future. One Chinese proverb relates to this phrase: “dead pigs are not afraid of boiling water,” 死猪不怕开水烫, sǐ zhū bú pà kāi shuǐ tàng. This term brings more attention to the lack of social mobility and increased uncertainty in today’s China. The percentage of unemployment rate keeps growing, so often times 摆烂 is used by many of those who recently graduated and are unemployed to just sit around and watch TV all day. Individuals that are working may feel as though the pay is not enough for the amount of work and effort is put in, so they use 摆烂 to express that they are doing the bare minimum in order to keep getting their paychecks.
Leighton, M. (2022, October 5). Chinese millennials have replaced ‘lying flat’ with simply ‘letting it rot’ — a darkly funny, laissez-faire rejection of competition and the work force. Retrieved from Insider: https://www.insider.com/chinese-people-letting-it-rot-social-protest-trend-2022-10
Liu, Y.-L. (n.d.). 9 viral phrases that explain China’s work culture. Retrieved from Rest of World: https://restofworld.org/2023/china-work-culture-phrases/
Moss, R. (2022, October 10). Forget Quiet Quitting, The Latest Work Trend Is To ‘Let It Rot’. Retrieved from Huffpost: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/let-it-rot-work-trend_uk_6343dc7ee4b03e8038cb00ae
Ni, V. (2022, May 25). The rise of ‘bai lan’: why China’s frustrated youth are ready to ‘let it rot’. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/26/the-rise-of-bai-lan-why-chinas-frustrated-youth-are-ready-to-let-it-rot