China is in a “friendship recession,” where young people have an average of 2.5 close friends, according to a survey by Chinese social app Soul.
The term, which was one of the platform’s buzzwords in 2023, reflects the difficulties Gen Z users face in making and maintaining friendships. Other keywords this year, such as “buddy search,” “authentic personas,” and “anti-emo,” paint a clearer picture of their emotional turmoil and desire for belonging.
“We think it is due to the increased geographical mobility and the fast pace of life,” says Amanda Fan, head of marketing center at Soul. “But socializing is a must-have for everyone, so we can see that younger generations are now trying to explore new ways to connect.”
So, how are Chinese youth building relationships in these circumstances?
Enter Soul. Launched in 2016, the app connects people of like interests and hobbies, driven by the vision, “May there be no lonely people in the world.” As of December 2022, the Tencent-backed platform had nearly 30 million monthly active users, 80 percent of whom were Chinese Gen Z.
Building a Soul-cial metaverse for Chinese youth
“China’s Gen Z is regarded as ‘a lonely generation’ as most of them are only children at home,” Fan tells Jing Daily. “When facing pressure from school and work, they may need more emotional companionship compared to the previous generations.”
Soul’s mission is to help Gen Z establish these companionships. And the way it achieves this, different from other social networks, is by requiring users to conceal their real identities through the use of avatars.
Source: Jing Daily