EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

Guard the hearts of the young

Writer: Mercy Ye  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-08-30

Humans innately crave intimacy.

When the demand is unmet by close relationships, i.e., marital relationships and parent-child relationships, it is easy to "outsource" such demand through "virtual reality," as the startup costs are low. However, once invested, the sunk cost effect easily kicks in, and rationality becomes scarce. This phenomenon can be seen in the relationship between idols and fans, who invest both financially and emotionally in their idols, in exchange for entertainment and emotional value.

Irrational love for an idol may be compared to a small amount of yeast added to dough. Give it time, and it spreads through the whole batch. If people are consumed by such love, their words and actions may be subjected to the influence of excessive, irrational passion.

Take the incidence of the Canadian-Chinese pop idol Kris Wu as an example. Despite Wu's notorious history in handling relationship with fans and his arrest by the police over allegations of rape, some of his fans could not help but express their willingness to help Wu with jailbreaking — an illegal activity that involves the utilization of much resource. It is clear that these idols have just a little too much power.

Social media platforms such as Weibo, Douyin, Bilibili and WeChat make way for the idols to intrude and invade people's spiritual world almost anytime and anywhere. Like seeds, the values of the idols are sowed in the hearts of people, especially minors, whose hearts are fresh and tender, and many without anchor.

It is a social responsibility to safeguard people's hearts, for they determine the courses of lives.

Fortunately, the Cyberspace Administration of China is bringing order out of chaos. On Aug. 27, the administration stepped up its efforts in managing "fan circles" — highly organized groups of passionate supporters who spend their time, money and expertise on making their idols as popular as possible. The action aims to steer the fans’ attention from the pop artists to the work of the artists, and to establish stricter rules and regulations for social media accounts affiliated with the artists.

For instance, the administration bans the rankings of artists. Instead, their productions will be ranked. The registration of social media accounts of fans groups requires the authorization or verification by the artists' agencies or studios. Account activities that induce bickering and irrational consumption are prohibited.

Furthermore, there is also an effort to help the underaged to develop a healthier schedule if they are to participate in a fan group. Underage fans will not be allowed to make monetary contributions or assume any management roles in the fan groups.

With proper guidance, the enthusiasm and talents of the fans may generate even greater value. It is because in addition to the privilege of entertainment, young people these days also enjoy a greater access to education.

Thanks to China's reform and opening up, enrollments at higher learning institutions increased from 27,300 in 1977 to 9.67 million in 2020, according to official figures published by the Ministry of Education. The number of Chinese students going abroad to study each year has also surged, reaching 703,500 in 2019.

Young generations in developed cities in China are not only blessed with broadened perspectives, but are freed from the burden of mundane labors. Their creativity is boundless and their passion is priceless. May the generation's out-of-the-box thinking be led by the out-of-the-world wisdom and bring a true Renaissance for China.

(The author is an Economics and Education graduate from Teachers College, Columbia University.)