Culture

Chinese male dealing with middle-age crisis: learn Python

In September 2019, a programming training institution placed an advertisement for Python programming on Wechat’s moments.

Python is supposed to be of interest to computer geeks, but the training institution has taken a different approach, choosing to launch it directly on China’s largest social network. Almost everyone who works with the Internet industry sees the ad on moments, and everyone comments at the bottom of the ad, creating a classic marketing case. At least 10 million people have been successfully covered by marketing.

If the above advertisement is just a coincidental successful marketing, then the following facts will make you feel the enthusiasm of the Chinese people for Python :

  • Open China’s largest short video App Douyin (TikTok), and you can always see an advertisement for a 19.9 yuan( about 2.87 USD) Python video course.
  • Visit NetEase Cloud classroom, China’s largest MOOC website, and you can see that two of the top five courses are related to Python, and the other two are Axrue courses and project management courses closely related to the Internet industry.
  • On MOOC China, another online education website, the Python course has the largest number of participants, as many as 600,000, but the average number of participants in the high-quality courses promoted by the website is only 50,000.

The large number of participants and the low threshold for participation are absolutely unique in the world.

Admittedly, most of the participants in the course are young students, but there are also a lot of middle-aged people who take part in learning Python.

Some people joke that learning Python, foreign languages and fitness have become the best way for Chinese people to fight the midlife crisis.

Why is Python the best way to fight the midlife crisis? How are these two seemingly unrelated transactions connected?

We can first talk about why Chinese people think that learning English and fitness can be used to combat midlife crisis.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization, many Chinese have realized the transformation from rural villagers to urban citizens by working in foreign companies, and gained the initial wealth accumulation.

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Today, job opportunities in foreign enterprises are still synonymous with high pay and relative ease. By contrast, the working interpersonal relationship of civil servants or employees of state-owned enterprises will be more complicated, and the salary is not as good as that of foreign enterprises. On the other hand, private enterprises in China generally have low wages and heavy work pressure, and their employees are at risk of being fired in middle age.

Although China has established an English teaching system from primary school to university, most Chinese still do not have the language ability to get a job in a foreign company. In order to get a stepping stone to enter a foreign company, many people will pick up books to learn English again.

As for why fitness can fight the midlife crisis, the reason is even simpler. Due to the lack of financial management concept, most Chinese people do not buy life insurance and serious illness insurance. Once they suffer from major diseases, they not only need to pay medical expenses (70% of the expenses are generally reimbursed by the national health insurance), but also face the risk of losing their ability to work and then lose their income. Exercise to reduce the probability of illness has become a natural choice.

Chinese middle-aged people have been in the habit of learning foreign languages and fitness (keeping fit) for nearly 20 years, while Python was only a few years ago, before which it was just a common programming language and was not well known to the public.

With the superposition of many factors, it was pushed into the sight of the general public. To put it simply, almost all Chinese media are playing up the importance of having Internet skills to your career.

The most important reason is the rapid popularity of Internet applications in Chinese society in recent years, and the rising market capitalization of Internet companies. China has the most enthusiastic government in the world for Internet technology, the most receptive market for the Internet, and the most high-profile Internet companies, all of which have created countless wealth-building stories and high-paying jobs.

With the development of the Internet, many stores that are too late for transformation have closed down, and many small companies have seized the opportunity to achieve growth. Take snack sales as an example, Bestore and Three Squirrels, these two snack companies have grown with e-commerce and become the two largest snack companies in China. The original offline snack giant “Laiyifen” is declining because he did not seize the opportunity of e-commerce. Such stories are played out every day in China.

Now that the Chinese government is determined to make China the most powerful manufacturing country in the world, it is pinning its hopes on Internet companies to transform traditional factories and build the industrial Internet to put Chinese factories in a leading position in the world.

To make matters worse, in order to better promote the enterprises they invest in, especially Internet companies, venture capital often invents some new words to describe the companies they invest in, such as Alibaba. Created “new retail, new finance, new manufacturing, new technology and new energy”. Everyone can’t figure out where these things are new, and there are different opinions in public.

A press conference organized by Alibaba about the new retail, which tells the content of the industry to the public, has become one of the common tools of Chinese technology companies in recent years.

Some online education companies between the media and educational institutions have taken advantage of this opportunity and launched courses to explain these new hypes. Their founders even appear on TV every year New Year’s Day to summarize China’s economic and technological progress in the past year, but the quality of the content is poor, and in order to better sell courses, they often add some content that intimidates the audience. For example, “if you don’t take this course, you will lose your job.”

Since 2015, Luo Zhenyu, a well-known Chinese storyteller, has held a four-hour New year speech on the last day of each year. The theme of the lecture was knowledge sharing, about technology and business trends worth watching over the past year. By 2020, almost every knowledge will have a sponsor.

Many middle-aged people in China work in traditional factories. To them, the Internet is both familiar and unfamiliar. Although they know how to use Wechat, they may not even be proficient in using Excel. They are afraid of being eliminated by new technologies, and after being intimidated by knowledge-paying companies, they have no choice but to pick up books and learn Internet-related technologies, and Python happens to be the most friendly programming language for them.

Python has a lot of office automation library, and easy to use, for those who meet, you can learn quickly and produce immediately. With Python becoming more and more popular in China, a variety of courses emerge one after another, you only need to spend a lunch money to buy a basic course.

For middle-aged people who may have home loans and car loans, whether investing in stocks or buying insurance is too expensive, it is very cost-effective to study Python, with a lunch, because the cost is very low, but they can learn a new skill.

But the quality of these courses is not very high, many people feedback that in addition to the trial of a few courses of excellent quality, the follow-up courses are to cope with, can not really master Python through these courses.

And in the face of a real midlife crisis, can writing Python guarantee that you can stay in a secure position in the company and not get fired? There is clearly no necessary link between Python and the resolution of the midlife crisis.

Middle-aged people in China hope to deal with the midlife crisis through a single skill, but they do not realize that what they are facing is a systematic problem, and Python can not solve the systematic problem of life.

The midlife crisis faced by the Chinese people is twofold, originating from China’s national conditions and the wealth of the middle-aged themselves.

China is a developing country, although the whole has made high scientific and technological achievements, but most of the labor force is in the lower reaches of the industrial chain, responsible for integration and assembly. The jobs that the assembly industry can provide are relatively low in skill and can be mastered without a lot of training. Such companies often rely on workers to work overtime, so factories prefer to hire younger people because they are able to work longer hours and earn less than older workers.

Even in China’s Internet industry, the success of many companies depends on innovation in business models rather than technological innovation, and companies need faster engineers rather than more qualified research staff. Only a small number of large companies like Alibaba need research talents and engineering talents who please climb to another high building, because their business scale is too large and need to ensure the stability of the system.

Senior technicians working in Alibaba usually do not face a midlife crisis, but technicians in small and medium-sized companies often face the dilemma that their skills are not high enough to be promoted and that their productivity is not as efficient as that of young people.

At the same time, the protection of labor rights and interests in China is also relatively lacking, especially compared with developed countries.

In addition to China’s national conditions, the consumption habits of middle-aged people are also an important reason for them to fall into the midlife crisis.

Going back to their parents, most of the parents or grandparents of the middle class in China are now farmers. Their parents supported them to go to college, enabled them to gain a foothold in cities, and bought real estate or even multiple properties in cities during the period of rapid development in China, realizing the transformation from farmers to citizens.

Many people attribute their success to their hard study. It is true that it is not easy for them to stand out from many people and go to college, but their success stems more from the overall development trend of China in the past 30 years.

They came to the big cities to work hard and bought real estate for themselves or to pick up their parents to live in the city when house prices were low in China. With the development of China’s economy, house prices rose, so did their wealth. But the increase in wealth is not due to their personal efforts.

Many of them have not experienced wealth education at all, they do not understand that the accumulation of wealth is often limited to personal efforts, but lies in the correct choice of key points. They also ignore the wealth they have accumulated, the fact that it takes generations to accumulate in a developed country, and their previous success makes them confident.

Since most people attribute their success to their own efforts, they simply assume that as long as they can keep working hard enough, their wealth will continue to grow and even overspend things they cannot afford, such as luxury homes or properties in high-quality school districts for their kids.

However, economic development has its own objective laws. When economic growth slows, China’s middle class will find it difficult to afford these consumptions. because they cannot correctly understand the relationship between their wealth growth and the economic situation of the country as a whole, they will subconsciously pin their hopes on learning some new skills. Python happens to be chosen, that’s all.

But in any case, the Chinese are worthy of respect, because in the face of such problems, they will still try to find ways to solve them, rather than doing meaningless destruction or speculation.

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