bird trend in China
Netizens pretend to be birds while perched on household objects Image Credit: Screengrab from the video compilation/

Dubai: A bizarre internet trend is gaining popularity among the youth in China – they are now pretending to be birds on the world wide web.

While it might look like a strange trend, these youngsters are actually protesting against long work hours that many companies seem to be forcing upon employees in the country.

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The trend, which is viral on the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin, features youth with their arms tucked under their shirts, perched on household objects, pretending to be birds who do nothing. Some of them go to the extent of making bird noises, while others sing a sad song.

Babelfish Asia, a social media page which posts videos about internet culture and trends, posted a video compilation showing the trend. One of the videos shows a young man singing a sad song while pretending to be a bird. The song goes, “Can’t help but turn into a stubborn bird, against the wind to the end.”

One video even shows a youth perched in between cars in an open parking lot. Other videos in the trend include variations of the same caption, “I don’t want to work, I want to be free like a bird.”

While the trend might seem hilarious at first, it portrays an important issue that the youth are facing in the country – the ‘996 system’. The ‘996 system’ is a reference to work timings – people work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

Youngsters are expressing their dislike towards the ‘996’ system and in some cases, their universities.

The ‘996 system’, developed during the Covid-19 pandemic, causes employees to work a total of 72 hours per week.

While the 996 system is illegal according to Chinese labour laws, it is implemented by several companies in the country.

Most of the videos show youth who are either studying or just entering the job market and are already exhausted with the strenuous work culture. They claim they would rather be birds and be free, than work 72 hours per week.