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Senior citizens play starring role

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-26 07:25
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Jiang Minci has developed the habit of recording her life story with a mobile phone after taking courses in smartphone photography. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Growing old can have some advantages. A greater tolerance for, and understanding of, what life can throw at you. But the reverse is also true. The elderly can sometimes drift into a helpless and hopeless situation where, as if by destiny, solitude and ennui become their companions.

British indie band Pulp lament in their song Help the Aged, we have to "help the aged, don't just put them in a home, can't have much fun in there all on their own".

However, in today's China, with the popularization of mobile technology and social media, some senior citizens are proving that they can have a lot of fun on their own. With or without external support, they can be admired and even adored by many.

On video streaming and sharing site Bilibili, known for being an online community for young people, a video with more than five million views is titled "I'm 90. Can I be a vlogger on Bilibili?"

The video was uploaded last year by Jiang Minci, the most elderly vlogger on the site, who now has over 372,000 followers. Viewers clicking on any of her videos will be met with a flood of comments floating across the screen that read "Hello, grandma".

She was first introduced to the website last year by her grandson known as Dou Dou, a sophomore at high school and also a Bilibili vlogger.

"I didn't know about these things at all before. When I saw him on this site, I asked what he was doing, and he simply replied 'I'm uploading videos'," Jiang says.

"I thought, if I make videos about the highlights of my life, it can be a form of entertainment for myself and possibly provide some positive historical reference."

Jiang's videos are mostly accounts of her own life experience, from living a turbulent and nomadic childhood during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), to pursuing an education that allowed her to become a railway engineer and, more importantly, an open-minded and independent individual.

"I thought of recording my life stories by writing an autobiography, but when I was a child, I attended school rather late due to the chaos of war, and I then specialized in science-related subjects, so my writing isn't good. I feel that shooting videos is easier than writing."

Now after nearly a year on Bilibili, she has not only managed to tell her stories, but also acquired the fundamental skills of a vlogger. Her videos are formulated and edited mostly by herself, with technical aid from Dou Dou.

"We seniors should learn about new things. We shouldn't think that, because of our old age, we can give up trying and learning. I feel that there's nothing you cannot learn as long as you put your heart into it. It's all a matter of personal determination," Jiang says.

She has been intermittently attending courses at the university for the elderly since 1999, learning subjects like pinyin, fitness, photography and video-editing.

Apart from encouraging young people to keep an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, in her videos she also focuses on her life experience and social issues, calling for public attention to the predicament faced by the elderly.

Another influencer of advancing years on Bilibili is Lu Zhengyi and arguably one of the most popular. Having uploaded 57 videos, he has gained 1.84 million followers and a total of 100 million views.

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