Tuesday 9 July 2024

Anger as elderly Chinese insist youngsters give up their seat on public transport

On social media there are videos of young people refusing to give up their seats for older people on the subway. Some elderly people insist that a young person gives up their seat. The young person refuses and there is a clash. It's happened more than once and each time someone has videoed the clash. See Twitter/X video below.

It seems that some elderly believe that it is a duty for the young to relinquish their seat on public transport to the elderly and this cultural aspect of Chinese society is deeply engrained.

In contrast it seems that the young Chinese have divested themselves of this cultural obligation which they see as a courtesy. 

The old think it is a duty while the young see it as a courtesy. It is a clash of culture within Chinese society between young and old.

It probably reflects the modern evolution of Chinese society. I can bring cats and dogs into the discussion here because the old fashioned Chinese culture regarding cats and dogs is that they are utilitarian. This results in abuse. The modern trend is to treat cats and dogs are companions leading to better treatment. There are grass root animal welfare organisations in China run by young animal advocates for instance.

Giving up you seat on public transport to an elderly person is a courtesy not a duty. So these insistent elderly people have got a bee in their bonnet about their rights. It seems that they are angry and discontented. They are taking it out on the young.

There is internal stress in Chinese society it appears.
On June 16, security was called when a young man on a Shenyang subway crumbled after an old man demanded that he'd give up his seat for him. In a video of the incident, which soon went viral, the young man can be heard screaming: "Are you giving me money? No? Then don't bother me! I'm just happy to be sitting here. What's wrong with me grabbing a seat? - What's On Weibo.

Here is another incident:

Another subway incident went trending a week later. On June 24, a 65-year-old man started harassing a young woman on Beijing Subway Line 10 after she refused to give up his seat to him. The man became aggressive, started slapping the woman, and put his cane in between her legs, trying to force her to stand up. The incident caused outrage on social media and Beijing police later detained the man.

Does this indicate something more profound is happening within Chinese culture? Are the elderly generally unhappy and taking it out on Gen Z? Are stresses being built up in China?


From Google Gemini:

Giving up your seat to an elderly person on public transport falls more on the side of courtesy than a strict duty.

There might be designated priority seating on some public transport that requires you to vacate the seat for someone who needs it, but in general, it's a social norm and a kind gesture.

Here's why it's seen as courtesy:

  • It's voluntary: You choose to offer the seat, not because you're forced to.
  • There can be exceptions: There might be unseen reasons why someone needs to sit (invisible disability, for example).

However, it's a widely accepted courtesy because it shows respect for someone who may have difficulty standing for long periods.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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