China experiences some of the highest rates of cyber bullying in the world. As backlash to such a statistic, a new online group has come to the fore, one in which there are no haters and no negative comments.
The “Mutual Praise Group” （相互表扬小组）is an oasis in the desert of online arguments. Whatever is posted in this group shall only find praise from all netizens therein.
The group introduction is concise, simple and straightforward. It is necessary to praise each other, and no selfies or posts about celebrities are permitted. In this mirror of the life of today in which social media transforms people’s spirit is reflected struggles, loneliness, joy, pursuits and the trivial.
Two kinds of posts in the Mutual Praise Group are most popular. Some are from people struggling to speak out about their successes in other groups, in unexpected shows of empathy for those facing failure in their life. A girl who won first prize in Tsinghua University’s Postgraduate preliminary exam, said, “I dare not expose my achievements on WeChat, nor dare I to tell my friends, as I am afraid that my happiness will disturb people who are suffering from the pain.” Since the post, there have been more than 300 replies.
Some netizens tell stories about their studying abroad, passing postgraduate entrance exams and job hunting, how they are steadily moving forward in their lives; cheering symbolic success. Such stories might be mostly the same, but they are really popular, because they shine with a strong resonance of “striving to live”.
Another kind of post, however, tends to be much darker. Here, the stories are not so universal and bright, coming from a group of people who are lonely and desperate, eager to be affirmed. Some of them are undergoing chemotherapy, some suffer from paraplegia, some have just lost their relatives in a fatal car accident.
One wrote, “I am a homosexual, I am so inferior”. The group members responded by saying, “We support homosexuality, but not merely homosexuality. What we support is the closeness of two hearts to break through the shackles of the secular world. We support every hard-won relationship. What we support is love itself and it has nothing to do with gender”.
The appearance of this group is testament to a demand created by people who are under great pressure in their fast-paced society. As such a massive amount of information invades everyone’s lives, it distracts people from noticing their success and congratulating achievement.
A member of the group with a history of depression, and remarkable insight into multi-cultural psychology, said, “Praise is something that is particularly lacking in our society. East Asian culture is not good at praise. There are few conscious praises in family education, let alone unconscious praise and encouragement as in western culture. Although each praise may only give a little confidence, but praise over and over again will give people a firmer confidence. Life pressure can be big enough, so we need to be surrounded by warm phrases, or even some blind confidence”.