How Wu spends his day

I have a friend who is 32 years old now. Let’s call him Wu. He is from Shanghai but works in Beijing. He earns 500,000 RMB a year and he’s single. Let’s take a look at a typical day in his life.

On the first day of the Chinese National Day holiday, the first thing he did was to check WeChat messages and read WeChat moments on his mobile phone.

He then opened Sina Weibo, China’s version of twitter, and didn’t put his phone down until he had browsed through all the heated topics.

He then got up to hunt for food in his fridge for lunch. Frustrated that he hardly had any ingredients to work with, he picked up the phone, opened the Meituan App, browsed a restaurant nearby that was open for business, and finished his order within five minutes. It’s easier to order delivery than cook by himself.

Food could be delivered to your doorstep within half an hour and you have a choice of wide range of products.

Wu then turned on the computer and watched a video about Dota game while eating. Before an afternoon nap, he played PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), a popular mobile game, and won twice.

Wu then woke up to five new WeChat messages, all from his mother. Wu’s mother first complained why he didn’t go home during the holiday, and then she told Wu she had arranged a blind date for him with the daughter of her friend. She wanted Wu to dress up and asked the girl out.

Wu shook his head helplessly, and did not reply to his mother, as if he hadn’t seen messages.

He then received a WeChat message from Zhang, his best bro. Zhang wanted to borrow 20,000 RMB (not much) to buy a new iPhone for his girlfriend on her birthday. He also joked that he may have to sell his kidney one day to buy a new iPhone.

Wu couldn’t help think to himself, “It’s better to be single so you could earn your own money and spend money for your own,”.

“Ding-dong”, the bell rang. It was the delivery courier, who brought the mechanical keyboard Wu bought on Taobao last week. Wu unpacked the parcel and couldn’t wait to connect it to the computer. He opened the League of Legends, and played until midnight.

More and more people like “Wu”

In fact, what seems like a typical day for Wu is actually an otaku life lead my many. There are many homebodies (boys and girls) in modern society. They spend less time socializing outdoors. A sentence popular on the Chinese Internet goes like this, “why shall we fall in love when it is so fun to play games, so pleasant to shop on Taobao, so convenient to order delicious takeaway food, and so funny to watch videos on Tik Tok?”

The phrase “single dog” is commonly used by Chinese single netizens to mock themselves.

It is not hard to see that the increasing dependence on internet services has led to two things.

One, it has made life self-sufficient for singles. Convenient apps and the development of O2O (online to offline) industry is making being single gradually turn from a life state to life attitude. People could use O2O for cleaning services, laundry, and ordering takeout if they don’t know how to cook. O2O enables people to enjoy almost all services without leaving the house. Some benefits of traditional marriage have been replaced by smart technology, and naturally, fewer young people pursue romantic relationships.

This in turn has changed socialization patterns in real life thus reducing the chances and opportunities of meeting someone.

Additionally advanced social lifestyle in modern times has made more and more young people choose to be single. More boys stay indoors and more girls receive high education than before, who naturally have higher requirements for their partners.

Food delivery O2O: Meituan vs.

As more young people try to achieve self-value and care about personal feelings, it is natural that more of them are unwilling to change themselves to accommodate others. Although the young generation’s concept of falling in love and getting married at more mature age makes them live at ease, it worries their parents tremendously.

Many seniors in large cities like Shanghai and Beijing go to parks to advertise their single adult sons and daughters and arrange blind date for them.

There are more Wus

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the number of single people in China reached 200 million in 2015. The number of people living alone rose from 6 percent in 1990 to 14.6 percent in 2013. This coincided with the exponential growth of internet penetration in China.

It won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that the development of Internet technology has a great influence on the single life in China.

In Singapore, for example, the number of young single people has increased significantly as Singaporeans are marrying later, according to the Singapore Lianhe Zaobao. The 2015 report released by Singapore Statistics Bureau found that 80.2 percent of men aged 25 to 29 are unmarried, up from 74.6 percent in 2010. The proportion of single women of the same age range also rose from 54.0 percent in 2010 to 63.0 percent in 2015.

Advertisements in Singapore MRT station encouraging Singaporean couples to have children

Single economy

In 2009, Taobao launched its first 11.11 Single’s Day Shopping Festival, which kicked off singles economy. Today, not only ecommerce companies such as Taobao, JD and Suning, but even industries such as Meituan, Dianping and Maoyan have started promotion activities under the name of Single’s Day.

In addition to the Single’s Day slogan, businesses find that single men and women are more willing to invest in themselves. For example, women whose monthly income is 10,000 RMB may spend half salary to buy a bag for themselves. And men are also more likely to spend money on electronics and technology products.

Of course, the emerging industries brought by singles are more than these. Food, clothing, accommodation, and entertainment are more suitable for single people, such as fancy restaurants for one person, and karaoke bars for one person.

When this generation of young people become old, there are great opportunities for insurance, endowment, medical care, and elder care. With the development of AI technology, robot nanny or even robot partner will become possible. Compared with humans, robots have the advantages of customization, loyalty, and durability.

As of now, as long as internet technology improves continuously, every country will find it much harder to solve the demographic crisis of increasing single people.


Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].