Know Your Memes, China Edition

Here is the latest meme sweeping the Chinese-speaking world:

This is a mashup of the Chinese characters for dirt, poor, and ugly, and it’s the new rage among China’s millennials:

Pronounced “qiou,” the new character can’t be produced on a keyboard. But its image, which appeared early this month on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has been viewed tens of millions of times.

….The three components mean poor, ugly and dirt…Put them together and — according to one highly shared post — you get an adjective with three possible definitions: 1. so poor you’re eating dirt ; 2. not only ugly, but also so poor you eat dirt; 3. poor, ugly and dirt-tacky. Young netizens who feel left behind in China’s new economy have claimed the character as an ironically proud expression of loser-hood.

Many Weibo users spread the same joke about qiou: It should be a synonym for wo — or “me.” Fans of the new character aren’t in dire poverty. After all, they have access to the internet and time to play on social media. But they live on the wrong side of China’s widening income gap, a place where finding a job, buying a house and getting married can feel impossible.

Surely we can Americanize this bit of ironic whining and make it into a text-emoji, like the famous shrug: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Let’s get on this, internet.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate