“Involution” was originally used in anthropology to describe agrarian societies that stagnate because, while their workload increases, a person’s output does not or cannot. The term went viral in China in 2020 when it was used to describe a student at Tsinghua University in Beijing riding a bike while holding a laptop that was running code. The young man was “using his life to involute”, the viral post said.
Young people in China identified with the term, as they feel unable to escape social stagnation. They spend hours studying to compete for well-paying jobs, but see their efforts go unrewarded – something which rings especially true since the pandemic took hold. Read more (South China Morning Post)