Wed, February 23, 2011
Technology > Technology > Valentine''s Day 2011

Enduring simplicity shines in microblog love letters

2011-02-14 14:43:56 GMT2011-02-14 22:43:56(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- As love letters go, they're short on length -- and, some would say, short on romance.

"My dear husband, I appreciate your contribution to our family. Happy Valentine's Day," said the post by "Nuannuan Aunt" on China's t.sina.com microblog site.

It was one of more than 163,000 short love letters -- up to a maximum of 140 Chinese characters -- posted on t.sina.com by 7 p.m. Monday.

But while many young lovers let their emotions spill over on the new medium, simple expressions of mundane affection showed a glimpse of traditional Chinese reserve and a time when life was less complicated.

Technology may have changed the form of delivery, but the message was showed deep-rooted Chinese values: "Today's roses are just so expensive," said the love letter from "Xiang'er'er."

Romance has hit a rocky road in China, where tradition puts a premium on material comforts for the marital nest.

Back in the 1980s when the country was just beginning to reform its economy and open up to the outside world, the "three major items" -- a watch, a bicycle and a sewing machine -- could usually secure a woman's hand in marriage.

Those were the days when courting couples would walk side by side in public at a respectable and untouchable distance from each other so as not to provoke gossip.

With growing wealth in the 1990s, courtship was transformed and couples could go to the cinema together. The three major items became a modern refrigerator, a TV set and a washing machine. Other items of furniture and gold and silver jewelry could embellish the package.

But for many young Chinese today, an apartment has become the compulsory pre-requisite for marriage -- and at today's prices, that's unobtainable.

A survey by the Baihe.com match-making website of 32,676 people across the country last year showed 70.8 percent of single women believed Mr Right should own a home before getting married.

So the microblog love letter has brought a return to simplicity for those wanting to show their affection the old-fashioned way.

A railway policeman named "Yongkangrailway," who worked away from his family for long periods, said in a post to his wife that he would never forget last year's Spring Festival which they spent together. "Thank you for your support for my work," he added.

A posting by "Joyce" said to her husband, "Since we had twin daughters, I have cared less for you. On Valentine's Day, I say sorry to you. I will try to be a good mother and good wife as well."

About 63.11 million Chinese, 13.8 percent of the country's Internet users, were microblogging at the end of last year.

A postgraduate student of Internet communication, who only gave his surname Zhang, told the Beijing Daily newspaper that the fast pace of urban life had forced people to focus on the most simple and convenient way to express their love.

"Microblog love letters mirror the fast pace of urban life," Zhang said.

Some experts hope the country's Marriage Law may force couples to rethink the basis of a good marriage

A draft explanation of the law issued by the Supreme People's Court of China in November last year says a home bought before marriage is personal property that cannot be split in case of a divorce.

Experts say the new explanation will remove property from the consideration of marriage.

"Times are changing, but the true meaning of love should not change," said Fan Lizhu, a professor of sociology at Shanghai's Fudan University.

Or as the post from "Li Ruiji" said, "Although we have trouble often, I will always love you."

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