Simplifying Socialization: Dazi Reshapes Traditional Interpersonal Connections

Saturday, August 12, 2023

"Seeking a travel partner, planning to arrive in Xi'an on Friday.", "Looking for a movie partner, planning to watch Chang An" On social media, an increasing number of Chinese young people are posting to find a partner, “搭子(dā zi)” in Chinese, for specific activities, giving rise to a new form of social interaction called “Dazi-based socialization”.

Dazi refers to individuals who provide companionship in specific scenarios. Although not intimate friends, they satisfy one of the most urgent desires: the need for companionship. In other words, it embodies a substitute for intimacy. Chinese interpersonal relationships emphasize the degree of closeness, where the closer the relationship, the more time, efforts, and emotions one is expected to invest. However, Dazi exists in a relationship that falls between friendship and acquaintanceship, that is, more distant than a friendship but closer than an acquaintance. Finding a like-minded friend can be very challenging. For instance, if you are fond of delicious food, travel, sports, or movies, you naturally desire to find someone who shares those interests as a friend or lover. However, finding such a person among a pool of individuals can be as difficult as finding one in ten. Besides, it requires a amount of time and efforts to truly get to know a stranger, whereas directly finding someone with shared interests would be much simpler.

As social creatures, humans not only cherish their freedom and solitude but also aspire to have good interpersonal connections. Dazi therefore is a kind of simplification  of relationships, satisfying social needs while decreasing the time and emotional investment required. Based on shared interests or goals, individuals can quickly establish the “Dazi-based socialization”. Dazi plays the role of providing company in specific situations. With changing interests and goals, different Dazi also provide opportunities to expand one's social circle.

Behind the "Dazi-based socialization”, a positive psychological state and social trend are reflected. Contemporary young people bravely step out, exploring their social relationships to satisfy personal satisfaction, and establishing connections with others and the world in a new and innovative way to feel the wonders of life. It represents a step forward in social progress. Moreover, it is not only a form of social interaction but also a mindset that embraces the enjoyment of life. Unlike traditional one-on-one offline communication, it has rather low barriers to entry (shared or similar interests and preferences) and does not require much efforts to maintain. It saves time and energy, making it the ideal choice for the fast-paced lifestyles and limited social circles of people nowadays. We can see that people pay more attention to and support the exploration of personal interests, breaking free from the norms and restrictions of traditional one, and freely expressing their desires. Meanwhile, it provides rich inspiration and motivation for the revitalization of Chinese culture. Similar to the trend, “Dopamine Dressing”, it helps individuals increase the courage to pursue personal interests and express individual desires, and also promotes a positive mindset.

Key Notes:  Three Common Types of Dazi

  1. 饭搭子(fàn dā zi):Dinning Dazi, to dine together. They usually share similar tastes and comparable level of consumption.
  2. 旅游搭子(lǚ yóu dā zi): Travel Dazi, to explore a destination together during a specific period of time. They usually depart from different locations, and converge at the destination, sharing expenses, having similar level of consumption, and comparable physical strength.
  3. 学习搭子(xué xí dā zi):Study Dazi, to learn together. They usually report study plans to each other and mutually monitor learning progress, providing encouragement.

Xiao Ming: Xiao Hong, let's go to Chengdu next week. I want to see the giant pandas.
Xiǎo Míng: Xiǎo Hóng, wǒ men xià zhōu qù chéng dōu wán ba, wǒ xiǎng qù kàn dà xióng māo.

Xiao Hong: Sorry, I can't. I still have unfinished work.
Xiǎo Hóng: bào qiàn, wǒ bú néng qù, wǒ hái yǒu gōng zuò méi wán chéng.

Xiao Ming: What a pity!
Xiǎo Míng: nà tài yí hàn le!

Xiao Hong: By the way, you can find a "travel Dazi" on social media platforms.
Xiǎo Hóng:duì le, nǐ kě yǐ zài shè jiāo píng tái shàng zhǎo yī gè “lǚ yóu dā zi”ya!

Xiao Ming: Thank you for reminding me. I'll have a try.
Xiǎo Míng: xiè xiè nǐ de tí xǐng, wǒ zhè jiù shì shì kàn.

Xiao Hong:Be careful and stay safe. It's important to remain cautious when traveling with strangers.
Xiǎo Hóng:zhù yì ān quán o, hé mò shēng rén yī qǐ lǚ yóu hái shì yào bǎo chí jǐng tì. 

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