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斜杠青年 – A Generation of “Slashers”

Oct. 13, 2020

斜杠青年(xiégāng qīngnián),” or, “Slashers”, are people who make multiple income streams simultaneously from different careers.

斜杠(xiégàng)” literally means “slash” in English, and refers to the “/” (particularly the key on the computer keyboard). The term was coined by Marci Alboher, a New York Times columnist, in her book One Person/Multiple Careers, in which she used “slashers” to refer to people with multiple occupations and identities.

The concept of “斜杠(xiégàng)” as it refers to people or lifestyles entered China and immediately took hold in youth culture, becoming a popular fashion and life attitude among young people, and amassing hashtags and search hits on social media platforms.

斜杠青年(xiégàng qīngnián): Slashers

斜杠(xiégàng): slash

Examples:

wǒ yǒu hěnduō péngyǒu dōu shì xiégāng qīngnián

我有很多朋友都是斜杠青年。

Many of my friends are slashers.

nǐ xiǎng chéngwéi xiégāng qīngnián ma?

你想成为斜杠青年吗?

Do you want to be a slasher?

Why is the concept of a “slasher” so popular in China?

Looking back, it’s easy to see that since mankind entered the post-industrial era, the service industry gradually risen in prominence, with mass production giving way to more personalized touches, and individuals creating their own value – a large part of people’s focus is shifting back to quality from quantity. Human creativity is once again being valued, and is increasingly dependent on individual autonomy and self-motivation.

This generation of young people is no longer limited to the stability emphasized by the previous generations. They are more open-minded, more eager for innovation and freedom, and more open to pursuing the realization of self-worth. Autonomy, diversification, fun, independence…these allow the “slasher” to adapt to his or her environment in this era of continuous reform and innovation.

Social and professional competition are becoming increasingly fierce, and being multitalented is a huge plus, as it makes it easier for an individual to avoid being replaced by AI or automation. Additionally, the implementation of such improvements also means that the knowledge and skill requirements of the younger generation are getting higher and higher, and another skill means another way to make money.

Therefore, the emergence of slashers is not coincidental, but rather the product of developments at the macro and micro levels.

As companies have laid off dozens if not hundreds of employees due to this year’s epidemic, many people are now unemployed. More and more of them realized the benefit of being able to pivot – they thought that their career or life was going in one direction, but now they have to change. Teachers have become network anchors, and company men are now modeling. The street stall economy has picked up, and some companies have even begun implementing a “shared employees” model.

Here are some famous “slashers”,you may think that they are a bit old, but when they were young they actually had multiple identities.

Su Shi

Poet / essayist / calligrapher / painter / philosopher / gourmet…

His poems, verses, and prose are all highly recognize, and his skill with a calligraphy and paintbrush are nothing to shake a stick at. He is a rare “all-rounder” in Chinese literature and art, recognize among the elite in the field in all of China’s thousands of years of history. In addition, he is also a politician who speaks truth to power, a gourmet, and a health expert.

This man is truly 优秀(yōuxiù) – “Excellent”!

A:  wǒ bǐsài dé liǎo dì yī míng

A: 我比赛得了第一名。

A: I won first place in the competition.

B:yōuxiù

B:优秀!

B:Excellent!

tā shì yī míng yōuxiù de zhōngwén lǎoshī.

她是一名优秀的中文老师。

She is an excellent Chinese teacher.

Many familiar celebrities are also slashers.

Jack Ma

Entrepreneur / Investor / philanthropist

The founder of Alibaba, a well-known entrepreneur, and a successful investor and philanthropist, Jack Ma’s passion for his work and determination to succeed have made him extremely well known the world over.

Jackie Chan

Actor / director  / producer / screenwriter / singer / stuntman

Jackie Chan’s name is a familiar one – a well-known figure in the acting world, he was one of the first Chinese film stars to really make a splash in Hollywood. In recent years, however, Jackie Chan’s name has appeared across industries not only related to the big screen.

So… do you want to be a 斜杠青年?

You May Want to Learn More:
干杯(gānbēi)! “Bottoms Up” at the Qingdao International Beer Festival
5 Ways to Confess Your Love on Chinese Valentine’s Day
Don’t Say Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

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