Course:ASIA319/2022/Instant Gratification (爽)

From UBC Wiki
The Chinese character for 爽 (shuǎng), meaning instant gratification


The etymology of the word 爽 (shuǎng) originates as a Han character from the Shang dynasty and is represented by the same character strokes whether using simplified or traditional Chinese. 爽 (shuǎng) can denote a variety of different meanings but it generally makes reference to feelings of instant gratification, pleasure, relaxation or an individual being frank and straightforward in their words and actions. The wide range of meanings depend on the environment and situation they are used in and understanding the different meanings that this word can represent can allow for effective and correct use of the word.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the culture of instant gratification because of technology evolving at a rapid rate, resulting in declining attention spans and individuals wanting the things they desire instantly. The culture of 爽文 (shuǎngwén) from the contemporary rise of digitalization has greatly contributed to the current culture trends in China where 爽 (shuǎng) indicates a sentiment of being “cool” even at the expense of others. It had cultivated a candid culture where a lack of emotional intelligence and the thought of social implications are no longer on the forefront of one’s primary concern. As times evolve, it becomes increasingly important for people to understand how the word usage may have changed, where it can be found and how it may be utilized in a contemporary context, and how 爽 (shuǎng) evokes different interpretations than it may have in the past generation.

Genesis of 爽 "instant gratification"

The true origin of the emergence of shuǎng 爽 and the association of “pleasure” or “instant gratification” within Chinese popular culture outside of internet culture is not entirely defined by a key event or cultural phenomenon. However, one of the main points of interest may be the character used alone in spoken phrases such as “很爽!” (pronounced: hěn shuǎng) or “太爽了” (pronounced: tài shuǎngle), both which are equivalent to saying “that’s cool!” in English. Here, the character is used by itself to describe anything that the speaker/writer deems to have been an interesting or pleasurable experience. This became the widespread use of shuǎng as a word in itself.

Promotional poster for The Story of Yanxi Palace from iQiyi

After the rise in the internet, the main key term in the continued association between shuǎng and “pleasure” may be the term 爽文 shuǎngwén (lit. “pleasurable text”). Shuǎng wén 爽文 is a term that became widely circulated in Chinese popular culture to describe a genre of books spanning across sci-fi and fantasy genres that are easily bingeable. What makes a book shuǎngwén is that it will normally contain an often male protagonist who starts with nothing and rises to the top of society without encountering many setbacks or suffering.[1] The shuǎng, or pleasure, derived from these types of books comes from the vicarious feeling of accomplishment that readers get reading the protagonist’s quick success over real-world issues, and also how easy these types of stories are to binge. The popularity of shuǎngwén may be credited to the newfound technology used to read online, such as on smartphone apps or desktop sites. Sites such as pinsuu[2] or tuishujun[3] both have a list or respective filter for stories that fall under the shuǎngwén category. See Social, cultural, and political problems section of the wiki for a more detailed elaboration of the term shuǎngwén within Chinese popular culture. Following the popularity of this term, the term 爽剧 shuǎngjù (lit. “pleasurable show”) was derived and rose in popularity, describing shows that give viewers such a pleasurable feeling that they feel the need to binge the entire show in order to be satisfied[4]. An example of a famous shuǎngjù would be The Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), which tells the story of a young girl who works as a maid in the emperor’s palace in order to find the truth behind her sister’s murder. This 70-episode show became largely popular within China, reaching over 15 billion streams on iQiyi within a month after being published. The show's success as a shuǎngjù also lead to the creation of a shuǎngwén online based off of The Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), which was published on the web novel site of iQiyi. Both the show and novel were able to find great success within a Chinese audience. The rise in popularity of these terms reflect the rise in popularity of the media they describe.[4]

Etymology and historical usage

As with the majority of Chinese characters, 爽 (pronounced: shuǎng), has evolved into many different ways of being written over the past thousands of years. The character was first recorded back in the Shang Dynasty around 1600 BC engraved on oracle bones. This type of writing was called 甲骨文 (pronounced: jiǎ gǔ wén), or “oracle bone script”, and is the earliest form of Chinese characters. Shuǎng took a different form during the Western Zhou dynasty, being used in a type of writing called 金文 (pronounced: jīn wén), or Bronze inscriptions.[5][6] Shuǎng passed through several more transformations before reaching the form it takes today.

The character shuǎng (爽) as it appeared engraved on oracle bones in the Shang Dynasty

The character 爽 shuǎng today is made up of the radicals 大 (pronounced: dà) meaning “big”, and 乂 (pronounced: yì) meaning “to govern”.[7] The historical dictionary definition of the character by itself has been “bright”[6]. Another word that includes the character shuǎng would be 爽快 (pronounced: shuǎngkuài), which was first used during the Qing Dynasty around 1838 by the bibliographer Xinyuan Lu in his book 唐文拾遺 (pronounced: Táng wén shíyí). This word was interpreted to have the meaning of “frank” or “straightforward” and used to describe people’s character.[8] There are also words such as 爽氣 (pronounced: shuǎngqì) and 爽直 (pronounced: shuǎngzhí), which are both used to mean “straightforward”. Apart from “straightforward”, shuǎngqì can also describe “refreshing air”. Following that meaning, the word 爽口 (pronounced: shuǎngkǒu), is used to describe food as "refreshing and tasty".[9] Overall, the character shuǎng has a large variety of meanings when paired with different characters, not necessarily directly related to it’s stand-alone definition of “bright”. Thus, as shuǎng is integrated within Chinese popular culture, it’s meanings when combined with different characters and contexts are also intricate and constantly evolving alongside the changing culture.

An elaboration of its variegated meanings, actual usages, and value-loaded implications

Screenshot of Da Zhang Wei's music video for 倍儿爽(官方正式版)showcases dancers in neon trimmed underwear with 倍儿爽 written on the backside, along with the female office worker engaging in sensual pleasure.

Da Zhang Wei 大張偉 released a music video titled 《倍儿爽》, roughly translating into ‘euphoric’ or ‘feeling good’. The music video follows Da Zhang Wei into a corporate office setting where team members are having a meeting. Da Zhang Wei is dressed in neon clothing and holds a golden mic to disturb the professional tone of the meeting. One of the male office workers faces burdens at work as his boss berates him, and with the help of Da Zhang Wei’s song, the office worker unleashes his vibrant character he suppresses at work. At the chorus, the office worker is seen on a wrecking ball, similar to that of Miley Cyrus’ music video for 《Wrecking Ball》. After the chorus, the storyline follows a female office worker who has a crush on a coworker. She goes back home to cuddle her body pillow with her coworkers face printed on it, while she orders lingerie online. During the second chorus, the female office worker transforms into a beautified version of herself donning lingerie as she pounces onto her office crush in bed. Around the bed are male dancers only wearing neon trimmed underwear with the word 大 over the crotch. These depictions of deviations from the status quo ultimately serve to add to the meaning of the word 爽. In this music video, 爽 takes on the form of indulgent, and even erotic satisfaction that by society’s standards may be looked down upon. [10]

The artist 柳翰雅 Aya has also released a song titled《火鍋爽Hot Pot Song》. The lyrics translated into English read “Eating hot pot in winter can warm the heart/Eating hot pot in summer can help you sweat and lose fat/It is more refreshing to eat in spring and autumn, you can enjoy the flowers, the moon and the autumn fragrance”. The usage of 爽 in this song refers to the various satisfactory feelings you can have while eating hotpot, regardless of the season. Interactions with gastronomy can bring about 爽 through an individual’s five senses, mainly taste in this example.[11]

Another meaning of the word 爽 can also refer to ‘counterattack.’ An example of this is the usage of 爽 to describe the trajectory of Korean girl group Brave Girls, who were on the brink of facing disbandment. Bilibili producer Bigger Institute analyzed the girl group’s rough journey to stardom that was saved unexpectedly by a video that went viral of Brave Girls performing《Rollin’》at a South Korean military base. The video showcases Brave Girls on stage while the men in military uniforms are giving loud and passionate cheers for their performance of 《Rollin’》. Bigger Institute compares the circumstances of Brave Girls to EXID, a fellow Korean girl group whose popularity soared when a fancam of member Hani went viral. In this context, 爽 is used to describe the revival of someone, or a group, who did not have a great chance of becoming successful. 爽 can be used to describe the underdog experience finally revelling in success.[12]

The 爽文(Shuǎng wén) genre of literature and 爽剧 (Shuǎng jù) as a genre of film and drama are known for their distinct incorporation of “cool culture”. “Cool culture” as interpreted by various Chinese reporters, is characterized by speaking up for oneself when adversities are in the way, resembles a new way of societal thought that poses tension between the old school and new. This “cool culture” can be observed in palace fighting dramas, or  宫斗剧 (gong dou dramas). According to Zhang Huiyu, gong dou dramas are popular due to three aspects: firstly, power struggles have always been a popular genre in popular culture, secondly, the attraction of elaborate costumes and dialogue that reflect Chinese style, and thirdly, the fact that it reflects the modern urban workplace in terms of competition and the viewer’s ability to substitute the workplace culture into the drama. As Zhang Shen writes, the popularity of this genre of dramas is ultimately a reflection of social pressure as these dramas allow for people who live in competitive societies to project their anxieties onto.[13] Shuangwen popularity in 2018-2019 was notably high, with forty two percent of the top ranking 100 dramas being of the shuangwen genre. Reporter Zhang Ge attributes shuangwen dramas’ popularity to the nature of algorithms. Social media is governed by algorithms, so that once a user “likes” specific content, the algorithm will continue to show that user more similar content.[14] Some reporters are completely against “cool culture,” arguing that this self indulgent mindset will only lead to ugliness. Furthermore, “cool culture” is a byproduct of animalistic instincts based on Marx’s belief that all human beings are the sum of all social relations and that dealing with problems should be done intelligently and with emotion for it to constitute a difference between animal and human response. Thus, “cool culture” is also seen to be a “blind pursuit” of coolness that ultimately ends up producing a war of words without regard for civilization.[15]

Another term in the English language that could parallel 爽 is "Gen Z." Gen Z is shorthand for Generation Z, the population born after Millennials, but the term Gen Z can also be a descriptor for a wider set of values, beliefs and practices. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, there are four core behaviours that characterize Gen Zers: they "value individual expression and avoid labels, [t]hey mobilize themselves for a variety of causes, [t]hey believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world... [and] make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way."[16] The term Gen Z and its connotation can closely relate to 爽 and "cool culture" as they both oppose the status quo in favour for a more direct and straightforward method of communication. The association of "cool culture" with venting about societal and personal issues and confronting them rather than receiving the brunt of it passively also meld the term Gen Z with this meaning of 爽.

“爽” when translated into English can take the form of “instant gratification”. According to the article by the Wall Street Journal, instant gratification in its English definition can also apply to the impulsive nature of Chinese consumers purchasing luxury products. This article features a study from McKinsey and Co. which surveyed 1000 Chinese luxury consumers in 14 Chinese cities. In 2012, thirty seven per cent deliberated for less than a day on whether to purchase luxury bags, in comparison to 2010 where only twenty four per cent deliberated for less than a day. The study also found that these impulsive purchases were more likely to take place on domestic land, as only fifteen per cent of consumers spontaneously buy luxury goods while travelling overseas. This instant gratification is rewarded by corporate efforts that prioritize big spenders and make for a luxurious shopping experience characterized by exclusivity.[17] Retail luxury brands have also found other ways to engage with younger peoples during the pandemic by hosting collaborations between auction houses such as Sotheby’s and jewelry brands like Bvlgari. Online sales channels have also been established, such as Buy Now, which allows customers to instantly buy fixed priced luxury items. Buy Now has had multiple collaborations with Spanish luxury retail brand Loewe, along with big name celebrities such as Jay Chou to boost sales.[18]

Synonym Word Cloud for 爽
Chinese synonym Chinese pinyin English translation
痛快 Tòngkuài refers to being happy; instructing someone to be comfortable or happy[19]
舒𣈱 Shūchàng refers to the relaxation and joy of the mood[20]
愉快 Yúkuài refers to a biochemical reaction in the brain that will release an electric current simulating happiness[21]
舒服 Shūfú refers to the satisfaction of body and mind, the natural state of life and psychological needs, and the feeling of being satisfied in the future[22]
刺激 Cìjī refers to stimulating, arouse, or exciting[23]
惬意 Qièyì used to describe the mood to feel happy, comfortable, or satisfying; gratifying[24]
幹脆 Gàncuì simply; refreshing[25]
直爽 Zhíshuǎng frank and straightforward in words and actions[26]
安適 Ānshì refers to a state of life of human beings when there is nothing to do; relaxed and comfortable; tranquility[27]
爽文 Shuǎngwén refers to a type of web text that is common in major novel websites where the protagonist has a smooth flow from the beginning of the novel to the end of the story, and the upgrade is rapid, often focuses on themes of immortality, time travel, and the supernatural[28]
爽剧 Shuǎngjù cool drama
爽点 Shuǎngdiǎn refers to a cool point, efficient instant gratification, where certain actions will be triggered because of dissatisfaction with desires, and once fulfilled, will be very refreshing[29]
逆袭 Nìxí counter attack[30]

Contextual Power and Distorted Meanings of Terms Associated with 爽

The historical definition of shuǎng meaning “bright” or “clear” was able to take on a different meaning of “instant gratification” within the context of internet and everyday use in popular Chinese culture. Similar to the term on its own, words that use the character shuǎng are also able to develop different meanings and interpretations depending on the context in which they are used. For instance, the term shuǎngkuài was used within texts organized in the Qing dynasty to take on the meaning “straightforward” or “frank”. The full sentence in which shuǎngkuài was used was “爽快哀婉,能使诸天欢喜,永於远地流传”, which authors Huang, Liu, and Chen translated to “Frankness and pathos make the Gods happy and last forever”.[8]  Here, the word used in the context of describing one’s character has the meaning of “frank”. However, there is another instance published in 2015 in the context of a Chinese fansub of an American TV show where shuǎngkuài is taken within context to mean “refreshing”. The full subtitle was “爽快又自在”, which author Xiu-xing Cai translated to “refreshing and comfortable”.[31] Within the show, the character who said the line was asked how she felt, to which she replied “sittin’ pretty”. The Chinese fansubber translated this complicated expression with the aforementioned subtitle and added a pun as a side comment to bring the same timing and level of humor to the Chinese audience.[31] Within this context, shuǎngkuài is used to describe a feeling, not a character trait, and therefore takes on a different meaning compared to “straightforward”. It is also worth noticing how this second example of the use of shuǎngkuài is from a much more modern context found within internet media compared to ancient texts, which may also suggest a shift in popular usage of shuǎngkuài from one’s character to one’s feelings.

Social, cultural, and political problems

The Shape of "爽文": The Social and Political Implications of Pleasure Reading and Viewing

"爽文" (shuǎngwén) or "feel-good writing" refers to the mainstream type of web-novels that can be found on major Chinese novel websites. It has long become an indispensable mainstream category of online literature. The term 爽文 (shuǎngwen) is more often used in a derogatory manner as this style of writing lacks intrinsic value and is merely written to fulfill a readers fantasy and the word 爽 (shuǎng) has now become key requirement of modern online literature. This idea of feel-good culture can be paralleled to the "fast-food culture found in the West which stems from a Western fast-paced life that circles around consumption culture. [32] This consumption culture revolves around the notion of the ever-increasing desire of people to access a plethora and even excess of goods and services in where quantity repeatedly trumps quality. According to the article “爽文”的形塑 The Shape of "Shuǎngwén", reader satisfaction has replaced literary value as an important measure of online literature. [33] As quantity is now put on the forefront of priorities, authors have lowered the consideration of literary value and replaced the need for quality literary content with the emotional scale and the the need to evoke emotional resonance with readers. Additionally, as work is no longer written for quality, authors replace the time it takes them to write meaningful work with the length and quantity of works as longer works generally bring larger profits. In an era that centers around instant gratification, authors need to adapt in order to attract modern readers who are easily impatient by using writing styles and patterns that do not bore the reader such as short opening sequences, and by using linear and repetitive plot developments. [33] The whole idea of 爽文 (shuǎngwén) aims to satisfy the readers desires as reading serves as a good means of releasing pressures from the everyday life.

Scene from the Chinese television drama "延禧攻略" depicting the "golden finger" representing a sense of achievement and success.

With the popularity of television dramas such as "延禧攻略" (yán xǐ gōnglüè) "The Story of Yanxi Palace," it reveals the contemporary generations inner thoughts, changes in social thoughts, and cold even reveal a battle between the old and new. It almost applies all of the key features and points of internet 爽文 (shuǎngwén), this being a story that revolves around a "nobody" that faces oppression coming from an evidently hierarchical society that finally gets a taste of achievement and success and this success is referred to as 金手指 (jīn shǒuzhǐ), "the golden finger". [34] Furthermore, although this show has gained a large audience of many different backgrounds, it can almost be unanimously agreed that this drama lacks serious depth in terms of the plot and concept at all. When compared to previous dramas such as "金枝欲孽" (Jīnzhī yù niè) "War and Beauty," viewers go as far as to say that is is far too simple and straightforward. Moreover, the heroine's own personality characteristics and development throughout the airing of the show seem rather illogical when viewers take the time to reflect on what they are watching but still overall proves popular as the show remains a honourable attempt at "cool culture." According to 丛子钰, the behaviour patterns of the main heroine in "延禧攻略" (yán xǐ gōnglüè) are no longer traditional but grow increasingly similar to women in American television shows such as "The Good Wife." [35] It is asked if the culture of 爽 (shuǎng) at its core revolves around "dissing" everything, and youth believe that it is "cool" to diverge from traditional Chinese culture and no longer view it as a restraint to their own lives. What makes dramas such as "The Story of Yanxi Palace" so "cool" is how a sense of achievement is constantly manifested in the protagonist or heroine's continuous struggle and success in adversity, as well as this resulting in the envy or. admiration of everyone around them. However, the heroine from 延禧攻略 (yán xǐ gōnglüè) by design may have mislead the audience in their way of thinking.

The Rising Popularity of "爽文化" in Contemporary Society

The question at hand asks whether 爽文化 (shuǎng wenhua) or "cool culture" is popular within contemporary society. It is evident that the majority of people insist that respect and peace far outweighs 爽 (shuǎng) culture where there is belief that this type of culture is rather straightforward, direct, and others view it as simply impolite. [36] Not only is cool culture a result of poor TV dramas and 爽文 (shuǎngwén), but 怼文化 (duì wénhuà) or hatred culture also arises out of a generation of people who seemingly lack the same emotional intelligence and means of communication compared to previous generations. As a result, people care less about the social implications displaying cool culture can have on their reputations and generation in general just to follow a trend. The implications of 爽文化 (shuǎng wénhuà) holds that this view of life uses "violence to control violence" and that cool culture has a clear boundaries of love and hatred. [36] It is a rather rude outlook on life that in turns also uses power as a means to control power. According to the article by 王品芝 (Wángpǐnzhī), it is viewed that Chinese TV dramas place emphasis on strained interpersonal relationships in which people feel suffocated and that there is a need to conform with this new way of thinking in order to fit in and be "cool". [36] This cool culture is in line with the current trend of fast paced life where people are free to express their emotions but this results in low-quality literary and visual pieces due to consumption trends. The consequence of works in which quality is jeopardized directly leads to a certain negative impact on the social public opinion and cultural orientation of these works. As a result, it is inevitable that this leads to a decrease of vitality in life as people continue to consume 爽文化 (shuǎng wénhuà). There is even a belief that this kind of deformed and pessimistic culture and lifestyle will inevitably lead to a life full of "ugliness" and it will further evolve from "cool culture" and "hatred culture" into “丑文化” (chǒu wénhuà) “ugly culture. [37] Cool culture is no more than a means for contemporary younger generation to vent under various pressures but it is not "appropriate to deal with people according to the practices in novels and TV dramas. It is necessary to improve emotional intelligence and deal with real life scientifically". [36]

Political Publishings of 爽文 with Intent to Mislead the General Population

Multiple accounts in early 2021 had published identical articles filled with false content titled "疫情之下的××:店鋪關門歇業,XX 華商太難了!" as a method of misleading the audience.

According to an article written and published through the 中国青年报 (zhōngguó qīngnián bào), China Youth Daily, there have been many strange acts of patriotism over the internet and this includes the cunning use of 爽文 (shuǎngwén) as a means of communicating these messages. [38] Examples of this have been news anchors positioning themselves in various locations around the city and reporting the same "moving" stories as a way to attract traffic. The writing and making of these sensational 爱国爽文 (Àiguó shuǎng wén) was a way for people to "sharpen their knives to harvest fans and engage in illegal fundraising." [38] There are ultimately two sides to the people who engage in such activity and on one hand, they are affectionate and sincere, whereas the other side of then prove to be malicious and cunning in the fact that they know exactly what they are doing in order to manipulate the audience. In terms of patriotism, it has become increasingly common for "two faced people" on the internet to practice treating patriotism as a business which is firstly morally wrong besides the fact that the content is usually false to begin with. A feeling of patriotism usually evokes a pure, sincere and deep feeling and it is the true expression of the phrase "我口说我心" (Wǒ kǒu shuō wǒ xīn) "I speak my heart." [38] It is when this expression is entangled with personal interests and feelings that these patriotic feelings take a turn and turn sour. People will go as far as too grossly exaggerate articles and facts or even completely make up news in order to evoke emotion from readers. When it comes to the patriotic 爽文 (shuǎngwén) articles or shuǎngwén in general that are published, traffic is king in the sense that it matters less what people think after reading the article but how many people the published work is able to reach.

A case of this can be traced back to the beginning of 2021 where multiple WeChat accounts published falsified articles claiming that due to the pandemic, stores were closed and that it was getting rather difficult for Chinese businessmen. [38] Besides the fact that names were changed and different accounts claimed different countries, the information spread was identical by every account and was dubbed by netizens as published through a "disinformation-style". Ultimately, this type of behaviour, a sour patriotism can cause a plethora of harm to society as citizens are fed false information and this will only lead to completely misleading the audience's basic understanding of the world and national conditions. The culture created by these false published works not only evoke an anti-intellectual environment that is frivolous, impetuous, and even lacking common sense, but people no longer possess the skills to reject these claims and articles.

Studies related to 爽 "instant gratification"

If the child successfully waited for the supervisor to come back before eating the marshmallow, they were rewarded with a second marshmallow.

Infant Expectations of Instant or Delayed Gratification is a scholarly article examining how instant and delayed gratification works in children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old, the developmental stage. To test the concept, researchers created the "marshmallow test." The children had two options, they could eat the marshmallow right away or wait for the supervisor to come back before eating it to gain an additional marshmallow. When the children were told, "here is a marshmallow. You can eat it now, or if you don’t eat it and wait for me to come back, I will give you another one,” the researchers found that the infants were more likely to trust the speaker, regardless if they received the second marshmallow promised. [39] However, when there was no promise of a second marshmallow and told "if you want, you can eat it now. Or, if you don’t eat it, you can wait for me to come back," the infants acted on fulfilling their instant gratification because of the basic need for food that humans have developed over time.[39]The research concludes by stating that instant gratification can be found in humans as young as three years old. Instant gratification is a direct reflection of the self-control skills acquired during the socialization process. Infants learn what is expected of them, social cues and responsibilities, follow the instructions and prohibitions given to them, which formulate their general concept of compliance.

Yelp, the main website Nakayama and Wan used to gather their information regarding instant gratification on review websites.

In A Quick Bite and Instant Gratification: A Simulated Yelp Experiment on Consumer Review Information Foraging Behaviour, they explore how consumers chose to navigate task-oriented review information within a digital space that they may or may not have prior experience visiting. They found that consumers tend to overestimate how much effort they spend searching for reviews on review sites, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google Reviews. Users who had previously used Yelp saw a 42% increase when comparing the time they spent reading the review versus the time it took to find the review, while those who had no prior experience witnessed a 93% increase.[40] Before making their decision, consumers spend less than five minutes of their time, read less than five reviews, and only glance at seven to eight pages, which the authors state can be explained through the idea of instant gratification. Nakayama and Wan argue that the culture of instant gratification emerged because of consumerism and is a characteristic of immaturity that inhibits upward social mobility, as it has been "promulgated by today's online environment, in which a high degree of immediacy and convenience is required for success."[40] They claim that individuals prefer having instantaneous forms of media to help them overcome time and space constraints. Consumers are more likely to be using a limited amount of information readily available to get avoid having an overload of information and confusion, while still balancing the costs and benefits of their search efforts. They conclude by stating that Yelp's sorting and ranking algorithm has a greater influence on products and services than most consumers expect, thus if those first impressions are unfavourable, those running businesses have to consider how they would counter the negative reviews.

Responding to Contemporary Events in an Era of Instant Gratification aims to compare how television news versus a theatre production works in their methods of delivering a message to an audience, for example, the consequences of Hurricane Katrina. Snyder-Young found that television news and theatre productions served two different purposes. Television news help fulfill instant gratification, viewership, ratings, and drives the market's advertising revenue. Furthermore, it creates a frame for audiences to gain an understanding of an event by utilizing "dramatic images, cliffhanger teasers, pathos, conflict, victory over odds," which helps keep the viewers tuned in.[41] Television constructs stories in a specific way where they frame the good and bad guys, "playing on audience expectations...focusing attention on what is most marketable in stories rather than on what is most complex about them."[41] Ultimately, television news serves the purpose of getting the word out to audiences as efficiently as it can. Theatre productions on the other hand help audiences think critically about contemporary social events. Theatre productions on the other hand help audiences think critically about contemporary social events. It takes more time to create and produce, usually spanning from months or years after the initial events occurred and typically is not used as "background noise while waiting to get on an airplane, getting a pedicure, replacing a button on a shirt, or washing the dishes," as it forces the audiences to engage critically with the content presented to them and commit to the entire performance.[41] Typically, going to a theatre performance is an entire event of its own because rarely does one stumble upon a theatre production by accident, it is not like channel surfing and suddenly coming across a news channel. Audiences are usually there by choice and consciously chose to sit in a theatre for 90 minutes to watch the performance. Synder-Young concludes that theatre and television present information to audiences in different ways, with television fulfilling people's desire to immediately receive information, and instant gratification, which does not force audience members to critically think about contemporary social issues. On the other hand, theatre helps the audience critically analyze the event, however it takes too long for an entire production to be up and running that it does not fulfill an individual's instant gratification.

Waiting for the Better Reward: Comparison of Delay of Gratification in Young Children Across Two Cultures examines how instant gratification differs between Chinese children versus British children between the ages of 3 and 5. To complete the study, Ding et al. utilized Bramlett et al.'s delay choice paradigm, typically used for non-human primates and "features a mechanized rotating tray that sequentially moves rewards within reach."[42] Additionally, they used "3 inhibitory control tasks and 1 standardized delay choice task to Chinese pre-schoolers (British children were not tested)."[42] The aim of their study was to see how culture influenced reward type and visibility on the children's ability to delay their gratification. The results showed that similar to other cross-cultural types of literature, Chinese children had a better overall performance when compared to their British peers when reward visibility was the manipulated factor, and this was especially true if "rewards were occluded."[42] They concluded that they were correlations between the Chinese children's performance with standardized developmental inhibitory control and delayed choice task.

Therefore, these scholarly articles show how wide spread the idea of instant gratification is. It extends from studying the behavioural patterns of children, to how consumers utilize review websites to chose restaurants, and how different media forms help fulfill instant gratification in learning about contemporary social events, such as television news versus theatre productions. Instant gratification is an entire culture of it's own and can be used to explain the behaviour and actions of individuals regarding the choices they make, such as the restaurants they end up eating at or if they choose to sit in a theatre for 90 minutes for a performance or rather sit in front of the television watching the news. Furthermore, some of the articles highlight the differences different regions and cultures can have on an individual's type of instant gratification, for example, Chinese children versus British children. These articles show how complex the concept of instant gratification can be because there are multiple factors that can contribute to it and can led to different outcomes in everyday lives.


The term 爽 (shuǎng) within the context of Chinese popular culture has a long-lasting history of ever-changing meanings that have been interpreted and used in vastly different ways and contexts. This page has compiled various terms that have stemmed from 爽 (shuǎng) itself alongside supporting studies and references that allow insight into the complicated and unique meanings of 爽 (shuǎng) from its genesis up until today.

As Chinese popular culture continues to evolve with the rise of new technology and popular trends, the current meanings for the term 爽 (shuǎng) and its umbrella terms are likely to be subverted and possibly contradicted by new uses and interpretations. Aside from the original dictionary definitions, 爽 (shuǎng) has evolved into a word that is largely characterized by socially deviant activity (to varying extents) that values pleasure over the status quo.

Future research topics can include looking into the various definitions of 爽 (shuǎng) or instant gratification can affect behavioural patterns and its alignment with Chinese contemporary society and social media trends.


  1. Virginia, Conn (2021). "Sinofuturism(s)". Verge: Studies in Global Asias. 7: 74–99 – via Project MUSE.
  2. "爽文小说排行榜". 品书网. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. "推书君". 推书君. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Xiao, Hui Faye (2019). Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China. Routledge.
  5. Wang, Yang. "Introduction to Chinese Characters". Brown University. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "爽". Wiktionary. 09-14-2022. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  7. "Learn More About 爽". Written Chinese. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Huang, Wanmei (2013). "A Talk on "Tongkuai" and "Tongbingkuailezhe"" (PDF). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 8229 – via SpringerLink.
  9. Lin, Yutang (1999). "Search for "爽"". Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage (Lin Yutang Dangdai Hanying Cidian 林语堂当代汉英词典). Retrieved Nov. 12, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. "大张伟 - 倍儿爽(官方正式版)". Youtube. August 9, 2016.
  11. "柳翰雅Aya《火鍋爽Hot Pot Song》官方Official MV". Youtube. December 9, 2014.
  12. "21年最大爽文!Brave Girls逆袭史【流行文化参考】". Bili Bili. July 6, 2021.
  13. "媒体谈"爽文化":揭示了职场新青年内心的渴望". Sina News. October 9, 2018.
  14. "爽剧血洗影视行业,你是「爽文化」的受害者吗?". Sohu. April 8, 2021.
  15. "对于当下年轻人中流行的"怼文化"和"爽文化",你怎么看?". Zhihu.
  16. Francis, Tracy (November 12, 2018). "'True Gen': Generation Z and its implications for companies". McKinsey & Company.
  17. "Instant Gratification: China Luxury buyers getting more impulsive". The Wall Street Journal. December 12, 2012.
  18. "China's Cultural Consumer Is All About Instant (and Artistic) Gratification". Jing Daily. March 24, 2022.
  19. Baidu (2022). "痛快". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  20. Baidu (2022). "舒𣈱". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  21. Baidu (2022). "愉快". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  22. Baidu (2022). "舒服". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  23. Baidu (2022). "刺激". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 20222. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  24. Baidu (2022). "惬意". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  25. Baidu (2022). "幹脆". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  26. Baidu (2022). "直爽". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  27. Baidu (2022). "安適". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  28. Baidu (2022). "爽文". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  29. Wang, Jiachen (October 28, 2022). "痛点、痒点、爽点与产品设计". woshipm. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  30. Baidu (2022). "逆袭". Baidu. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Cai, Xiu-xing. “Fansubbing Humor: A Mainland China Case Study.” (2015).
  32. Qiu, Charles (April 12, 2021). "Will Shuangwen arouse the literature "fast-food" culture in the world?". RCN Asia. Retrieved Nov. 5, 2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  33. 33.0 33.1 Cao, Siying (Nov. 6, 2022). ""爽文"的形塑". CNKI. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  34. "透析《延禧攻略》:为什么中国人这么想"爽"一回". 鳳凰網 文化读书. August 20, 2018. Retrieved Nov. 9, 2022. |first= missing |last= (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  35. "半月谈:《延禧攻略》"爽文化"背后,是必须直面的思潮". 澎湃. October 9, 2018. Retrieved Nov. 9, 2022. |first= missing |last= (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 Wang, Pinzhi (October 15). Sun, Shan (ed.). ""爽文化"流行?过半受访者依然坚持以和为贵!". China Youth Daily. Retrieved Nov. 6. Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  37. "对于当下年轻人中流行的"怼文化"和"爽文化",你怎么看?". 知乎. March 3, 2021. Retrieved Nov.7, 2022. |first= missing |last= (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 "中国青年报:批量复制的"爱国爽文"藏着磨刀霍霍". 观察者. December 17, 2021. Retrieved Nov. 11. |first= missing |last= (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  39. 39.0 39.1 Luo, Yuyan, Pattanakul, Duangporn (2020). "Infant Expectations of Instant or Delayed Gratification". Scientific Reports. 10: 1–8 – via ResearchGate.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Nakayama, Makoto, Wan, Yun (2021). "A Quick Bite and Instant Gratification: A Simulated Yelp Experiment on Consumer Review Information Foraging Behaviour". Information Processing and Management. 58: 1–15 – via Elsevier Science Direct.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Snyder-Young, Dani (January 2013). "Responding to Contemporary Events in an Era of Instant Gratification". Theatre of Good Intentions: 110–131 – via ResearchGate.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Ding; et al. (September 3, 2021). "Waiting for the Better Reward: Comparison of Delay of Gratification in Young Children Across Two Cultures". PLOS ONE. 16: 1–25 – via PLOS ONE. Explicit use of et al. in: |last= (help)
UBC Asian Centre, Bell Shrine, Winter 2013.JPG
This resource was created by Course:ASIA319.