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The war between the 80s and the 90s
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In three days, everything about the girl was posted - her real name, home address, schools, telephone number, online names, homepage, and even her pictures.

For the next few weeks, the battle was fast and furious. The 1980s posted many clips of 1990s people who knew virtually nothing about the quake, and appeared indifferent. Homepages by the 1990s with unpatriotic and cynical articles about the quake were advertised. Their real names, backgrounds and online accounts were also posted on public forums by the angered eighties. And so it went ...

"We never bothered anyone, why do you suddenly attack us and our lifestyles?" asks 17-year-old Kino Ding, who speaks for many Jellies. "Because you feel frustrated. You were criticized by the generation before you for being wild - and now you feel out of date because of us. So you struggle between the two and you are frustrated. You envy us because we shine so bright and we're upbeat."

A typical 1980s response: "You kids are so bored. We don't have the time or energy for you. You are just repeating what we have done before. But at least, you should respect your parents. And you have no right to attack us until you earn your own money." This is from 28-year-old Joyce Lin.

This controversy reminds many people of the situation 10 years ago, when society first started defining a group of people by decade of their birth. At that time the concern was the 1980s, the first generation of single children.

Their elders asked: "Are these 'flowers of the nation' going to destroy the country? Do they still have morals? Aren't they too wild and rebellious? Are they responsible enough to take China to new heights?"

The same questions are now being asked about the 1990s - by the somewhat self-righteous 1980s.


That first generation of single children drew attention in the late 1990s, and especially after the millennium, when they entered the workforce.

They were considered spoiled and selfish, "the apples of their parents' eyes." Sociologists wondered how as adults they would affect society - would they always put themselves first?

The 1980s grew up during China's early days of economic reform, but the early days were not times of abundance for many. In childhood, their experiences were similar to the late-1970s: playing outdoor games with other kids because there was no Internet, living in old apartments without their own rooms, taking crowded buses because cabs were too expensive, and so on.

Once they entered middle school in the early 1990s, China was hurtling forward. They witnessed the first craze for stocks. They saw the first computers in school.

Western and Japanese culture impressed them with glittering celebrities, Hollywood movies and other values that were never taught at home or in school.

(Shanghai Daily July 15, 2008)

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