Monday, June 14, 2021

"Lying Flat" as a continuum of responses to the stresses of modern living

This blog has commented on China's Cultural Involution in the past. ( link )

The hottest idea arising out of Chinese society is the concept of "Lying Flat" which has gained so much traction the Community Party is now viewing this philosophy as something that can destabilise their society and has begun washing off groups that allow adherents to this philosophy to fester in Chinese social media. 

This idea arose from young Chinese's frustrations with an unreasonable job market and the lack of social mobility. It's not fun qualifying for a top university in China only to see the best jobs reserved by peers who come from richer families. So the collective response is to simply lie flat and do the bare minimum to get by. 

There are three components to this "Lying Flat" lifestyle :
  • Don't advance in life, do not buy a car or house, do not get married and do not have kids.
  • Maintain a minimum standard of living
  • Refuse to be exploited as a slave or be part of someone's money-making machine.
If you look at this from the perspective of the Chinese, this idea can really gain traction given that the gender ratio is so pronounced in this country, most men really have no choice but to stop trying to start families. Once a guy makes that decision, the second and third leg of the lifestyle is easily attained with plenty of online entertainment and gig economy jobs.

I daresay that this can be really liberating.

In Singapore, we sort of know that our variant of "Lying Flat" is embedded in our BBFA ( Bui Bui Forever Alone )  lifestyle. Once they convince themselves they are Forever Alone, adopting a minimum standard of living, watching Netflix, and playing games is a cinch. 

Still, I think that Singapore's situation is not as bad as China as Singapore guys can find foreign spouses if they get rejected by local women and there are career paths that can lead to great wealth without the need for advanced degrees like becoming a commissioned FA or selling real estate. 

What's interesting about Lying Flat is that you can arrange these lifestyle philosophies in a continuum :

At the highest octane level is the "Tiger Mum's Dream Life" where someone collects the best qualifications to decorate their resumes, launch ambitious careers or businesses and end up in the pinnacle of Singapore society. This is otherwise called the Singapore Dream and can live on so long as there is social mobility.

FIRE's (Financial Independence and Retire Early) different levels are next, where you adopt the minimalist doctrine but do not mind being exploited so that you can become financially independent later. The FAT FIRE acolytes are not too far from those wanting to live the Singapore Dream, but the Coast FIRE guys are really very different - they just want some form of escape like the BBFA. 

Below Coast FIRE is the massive population of indifferent Singaporeans who think that England has a chance at this year's Euro Cup and would want to know the best place to queue for a BTS MacDonald meal. If life happens, it happens. Meanwhile, let's watch K-Drama.

Below that is the BBFA. BBFA living is not as defeatist as Lying Flat because BBFA dudes are still very active in finance forums and EDMW flexing crypto trades and behaving as disagreeable as their anonymity allows them to. BBFAs will advance up the spectrum if they luck out via a crypto trade or an inheritance. I expect these bros to be very in your face when they succeed. 

This puts Lying Flat is at the bottom of the spectrum where adherents actually develop a philosophy to counter what they perceive as a social and economic injustice. It is just to live the bare minimum and put up a middle finger against all of life's injustices. 

As we move down the continuum, we move from Siao Onz to Indifference to Anti-Establishment. 

Readers should make an informed decision as to where there are in this continuum. 

There is no right answer.

( Except the part on England winning the Euro Cup. England will never win the Euro cup in our lifetime. I don't watch football, and even I know that. )


  1. I think there is still another level below lying flat as in the case of hikikomori in Japan (and in Korea) eg. recluses who withdraw from all social contact and often don’t leave their houses for years at a time.

    1. My view is that Hikkikomori is nearer to BBFA as it is just a form of resignation. Lying Flat is born out of anger and is a form of rebellion.

  2. One side effect is lower carbon emissions. Bad for human, good for planet.

    Cars & high rise buildings are big carbon emitters. Having children is the biggest carbon emitter of them all lol.

  3. Where is lean fire then?