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It’s that time again, folks: Qixi Festival. Qixi Festival, aka Double Seventh Festival, aka Chinese Valentine’s Day, falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar. It celebrates the annual celestial meeting of the cowherd and the weaver girl, two forbidden lovers banished to different corners of the sky.
Today, you can celebrate that meeting on WeChat by renting yourself out for daily activities at a rate of your choosing or by smashing loved up couples apart via a “runaway single dogs” arcade-style game.
These are just two of the ways that some of China’s young people will be marking the annual lover’s day.
A number of “rental” mini-apps (programs embedded within WeChat) have cropped up this year, chief among them the straightforwardly-named Qixi Rent Yourself. The app lets users “rent out” other users for activities, from the useful to the mundane to the bizarre. You can rent a user for something saucy, like kissing. Or something utilitarian, like grocery shopping. Or you could rent them to wear a matching outfit with you and meet your parents (that’s two separate orders, though).
We signed up, and chose our eight available services from the list provided:
pretend to be your boyfriend,
work out together,
spend the night (!!!),
go jogging together,
take you to a movie,
help you pick clothes,
take you out for drinks,
and eat something delicious.
It should be noted that the “spend the night” option includes the additional text “get paid instead of paying.” Tricky, tricky.
Once you’ve selected the activities and set a price, the app creates a poster advertising your services and slaps a QR code on it. You post this to your friend feed on WeChat and those who take pity on you can then scan the QR code to donate some digital spare change.
As to whether you actually follow up on performing the stated tasks is up to you. The Qixi Rent Yourself app includes a disclaimer in its instructions that, “the app is for fun and not really for renting, it’s a way to exchange rewards”, but there has been trouble with such supposedly harmless games.
An article on NetEase from 2017 tells the alarming story of a “millennial wife” Lili who signed up for a similar “rent yourself” service around this time last year. She posted her calling card online where it was seen by her husband, who was, unfortunately, “born in the countryside.” He apparently took it a bit too seriously, freaked out and demanded she take the “advert” down, and when she refused, slapped her. Lili slapped him back, and the two had an all-out brawl. Later, after a visit to court for domestic violence charges, the husband apologized and the couple are back on their feet. Still, not a great way to spend Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Meanwhile, for those who feel especially embittered by Qixi, there’s Runaway Single Dogs. This arcade-style game allows you to blast apart happily strolling couples, collecting purses of money and power-up doggie bowls as you go (“single dogs” has been a popular slang term for singletons in China for a few years now).
Not going to lie, it’s a pretty fun game to while away a bit of your commute on. And let’s be honest, separating imaginary couples digitally is at least a little less mean-spirited than the Shanghai pranksters who booked every single odd-numbered cinema seat for a rom-com screening on Valentine’s Day 2014.
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