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The Loneliness Party (寂寞党) refers to a group of Chinese Internet users who commiserate over their loneliness and singlehood, in similar vein to the Solo Regiment on the Korean web. The party was established following the emergence of the viral catchphrase “What (X) is (Y)ing is not (Z), It is Loneliness” in 2009 and continues to remain active.
In early July 2009, a forum user on the Chinese BBS community Baidu Tieba posted a low-resolution webcam image of a man eating noodles with the accompanying text: “What [this] brother is eating aren’t noodles, but loneliness!” (Chinese: 哥吃的不是面，是寂寞):
Shortly after the original post, other users on the forum began repeating this sentence with slight variations, giving birth to the phrasal template “What X is Y’ing is not Z, It is Loneliness” (Chinese: XY的不是Z，是寂寞) and a series of parody images centered around the theme of sad bachelorhood and loneliness. According to numerous user accounts on Baidu Tieba, the expression was likely inspired by the narcissistic catchphrase “Don’t obsess over me, I’m only a legend” that became popular earlier that year.
The captioned image parodies quickly spread across other online forums, BBS sites and gaming communities, such as The End of the World forum (天涯社区发帖), MOP forum and World of Warcraft servers. The snowclone was similarly adapted as headlines for a number of Chinese blog posts and news articles including Tech CN. In November that year, the Chinese version of social network game Happy Farm featured a message that read: “It is not a kind of radish, it is loneliness.”
Wenlong_wenlong wrote: What brother is earning is not money, but loneliness.
垂帘花影 wrote: What I am working is not overtime, but loneliness.
周祯杰 wrote: What your mother gave birth to was not you, but loneliness!
hetong wrote: What I speak are not words, but loneliness. What is filled in the sky is not air, but loneliness. In the tears I quietly weep flows loneliness. Loneliness follows me, and I too cannot separate myself from loneliness.
舞法舞天7 wrote: What I am getting is not soy sauce, but loneliness. What I am doing are not push ups, but loneliness. Jia Junpeng, who calls you to go home to eat is not your mother, but loneliness.
Some of the more notable expressions to emerge from Baidu, Sina and MOP forums include “What I am smoking is not cigarettes, it is loneliness” (“哥抽的不是烟，是寂寞”) with an image of a crab holding a cigarette and “What I see is not sky, it is loneliness” (哥看的不是天空，是寂寞) with an image of a panda sitting on a tree and looking afar in the distance.
The image of the lonely panda was particularly well received on MOP forums, accruing over 1000 replies and many derivative images. The threads were subsequently picked up by various Chinese and English news blogs from CN6 and Sina to Pomoho and Chinese culture blog China Smack.
The Loneliness Party (寂寞党)
Eventually, the popularity of such phrases on big Chinese forums led to the formation of the Loneliness Party (寂寞党) or alternatively, The Loneliness Religion (寂寞教), among Chinese internet users who identified with the self-deprecating humor behind the catchphrase. As the membership of the faux political party continued to grow, some took the opposite side by calling themselves the Anti-Loneliness Party and telling others to have a sense of self-respect. However, the anti-Loneliness movement only led to yet another parody of the phrase “what the Anti-Loneliness Party gives is not self-respect, it is loneliness.”
China Smack – What Is Written Here Is Not The Title, But Loneliness
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