Short videos, some of just a few seconds, are an increasingly popular medium on the Chinese web. Featuring everything from pranks and satire to cooking and dancing, the rapid development of the 'microvideo' follows popularity overseas on websites like the now-defunct Vine, and has been aided by domestic social microvideo apps like Douyin and Kuaishou.
They're particularly popular among the young. China Youth Daily reports a Douyin insider saying 85 percent of the app's users are under 24 years old.
But some are concerned about their growth, the newspaper reports. That's in part because Chinese media investigations have exposed a whopping number of fake and dodgy products being promoted and sold in microvideos.
Wang Yunfei, associate professor at the School of Sociology and Political Science at Anhui University, has other concerns. He worries that the content will make people compare themselves unrealistically to others and give young people unhealthy ideas about consumption. Wang encourages young people to think critically before engaging with microvideos.
For 22-year-old Xiaozhou, an English major, microvideos are harmless "snacks" that spice up daily routines and cater to different users’ tastes, bringing many people joy. However, they hold no appeal for Gong Lili, who was born in 1998. Despite her friends suggesting several times that she download an app, Gong writes the videos off as exaggerated and emotional, saying she prefers more realistic content. They will only bring viewers temporary pleasure, she says philosophically.
Meanwhile Li Yazheng, a PhD candidate in Communication and Policy at the University of Science and Technology of China, says people born after 1995 pay more attention than their forebears to individual interests and novel things. Li says microvideos encourage users to show their personality, interacting in a playful way.