It is 8 a.m. in Shanghai. Scores of office workers are pouring into the dizzying network of the city's metro lines, toting heavy briefcases and steaming cups of coffee. Meanwhile, Zhiyuan Zhang, 27, is tucking himself into bed.
"8 a.m. means it's time to lie down," Zhang told Insider. "Though I don't have a job to go to, so I can lie down anytime. It's great."
Zhang is a Chinese millennial who has joined the ranks of a social movement called 躺平主义 — the "lying flat movement." It's a mindset, a lifestyle, and a personal choice for some disillusioned Chinese youth who have given up on the rat race and are staging a quiet rebellion against the trials of 9-9-6 work culture.
The idea of "lying flat" is widely acknowledged as a mass societal response to "neijuan" (or involution). "Neijuan" became a term commonly used to describe the hyper-competitive lifestyle in China, where life is likened to a zero-sum game.
According to Chinese news outlet CGTN, a viral photo of a student at the prestigious Tsinghua University studying on his laptop while riding a bike best encompassed "neijuan." The pressure to succeed renders the mere minutes spent on a short bike commute a waste of time.