The concept struck other users as profound. It resonated in particular with college-educated but downwardly mobile young people who have spent their whole lives endeavoring to get good grades and a good job, only to find themselves either boxed out of the white-collar labor market or miserably overworked in it.
What would it be like to admit defeat, to drop out, to stop striving and simply exist?
Lying flat has since become an internet phenomenon and a media buzzword. Online communities of “lying flatists” have cropped up, trading advice about how to survive outside the traditional workforce. Memes have appeared across the web, mostly showing cute cats in prostrate poses.
The lying flatists’ declaration that they will no longer follow the script, including buying a house and car and starting a family, has alarmed some older people who view the trend as fatalistic and antisocial. Adherents say it beats sustaining or feigning optimism in pursuit of elusive success.
In late May, a poem published online titled “Lie Flat, Young Man!” distilled the essence of the idea. “Come, let’s lie down together, please don’t be depressed,” wrote the poet, who goes by the name Xiaopan. “Everyone has an ideal that is hard to let go. Work hard without complaint and get no reward. When the ideal becomes a trap designed by those in power, lying down is a good medicine for struggle.”
It’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” 2.0: Darker and Edgier Edition.