Feeling down? Welcome to the 'flattery group'
A new form of 'psychological service' is emerging in China's Internet world. Flattery has become a commodity for people to make others or themselves feel better.
On China's online trade platform Taobao, searching for kuakuaqun (literally flattery group) leads you to dozens of results.
A Shanghai Daily reporter on Monday afternoon tried a 35 yuan service from an online shop, which claimed to offer 5 minutes of adulation.
After 35 yuan was paid, the shop owner asked the reporter to add a contact on WeChat, identified as "I."
"I" sent a voice message, asking for some personal information — sex, hobbies and characteristics — then he said the service would run from 4:49pm to 4:54pm.
At 4:49pm sharp, the reporter was dragged into a group, which was immediately flooded with all kinds of flattering messages.
"OMG, you are so good-looking!"
"I'm already fascinated by your look!"
"Does such a good-looking person really exist in the world?"
"This is my definition of idol!"
"We all love you!"
Such messages continued for 5 minutes. At 4:54pm sharp, "I" kicked the reporter out of the group. The ordeal was over.
On Taobao, the price for such service ranges from 5 yuan (74 US cents) to more than 200 yuan. The more you pay, more mush you can enjoy, from more people.
Many Chinese universities have also set up chat groups to for group members to compliment each other for free.
In a chat group set up by students in Tongji University in Shanghai, the number of participants rocketed from 200 to 500 in less than 10 hours, according to Xinhua news agency.
The conversation kept going for a whole day. One says "I cannot handle computer science!" And the kind response is "Your heart is too pure to hold any complex algorithms."
'Not busy enough'
All this empty eulogising has split the Internet.
"I think flattery groups are good for one's mental health to some extent, helping others build confidence," one netizen identified as "m" commented.
"They are not busy enough if they have time to spend on such a meaningless thing," read another comment by huaanxiaosheng.
"As long as it doesn't violate the law, it's okay to buy 'happiness' with money," commented zhangyue.