The Falling Stars Challenge-Social Media Makes the World More Equal

4 min read 

Have you ever planned a nice dramatic fall? If so, what would you fall with?

Recently on Chinese social media, people from all walks of life posted pictures of themselves “accidentally falling down” next to their most valuable possessions as to show off their wealth. This makes for a good laugh, but it’s also somewhat thought provoking. The things people chose to flaunt are far beyond your imagination. There were firemen’s certificates, the wrench of power grid workers and documents of emergency call centers.

falling with documents of emergency call centers

Or even better, a bunch of cash, looking so crisp it’s like they just came out of the money printer. One of the netizens commented, “For us working in the banking sector—the most wealth flaunting business in the world, all we have is cash.”

This trend of posting photos of people falling actually originated from “the falling star challenge”, started by a famous Russian model, challenging others to share their falling photos, with their belongings shattered on the ground like falling stars. The challenge spread like wildfire on the internet. Some pretend falling from the steps of a private jet, while others fall from sports cars, with luxurious Louis Vuitton bags in hand.

For example, Chinese stylist Kevin posted his challenge photo – a large sum of make-up products. This Weibo post received over 6,000 retweets and over 10,000 comments, which makes it one of the most popular falling star challenge photos on the twitter-like platform Weibo.

falling with a large sum of make-up products
Kindergarten teachers fell next to a bunch of kids

Later, smartphone manufacturers even used this as a teaser for their new products. On the evening of October 15, Xiaomi’s official Weibo account released a falling photo, saying “Our staff member fell over, and here comes the big surprise.” The photo shows Xiaomi MIX 2S, Xiaomi MIX 2 and other mobile phones placed randomly on the ground, however the phone the staff member is holding is the main attraction, the Mix 3 with a slider camera and a screen-to-body ratio of nearly 100%.

Meizu also posted a similar “falling star” photo, with all types of SLR cameras in the background. The girl in the photo is wearing a shirt with the words “national optical technology expert”, which implies that the major selling point of the upcoming Meizu Note 8 would be its photography functions.

Meizu’s falling star photo
Recruiting website Zhaopin.com posted a picture of a guy falling with a pile of job offers
Luckin Coffee’s falling star photo

However it might not be a good idea to take on the challenge in the middle of the street. On October 16, a female TikTok creator uploaded a video of herself crawling from the driver’s seat of her car to the road. The video shows that she is lying facing the ground over a crosswalk, with her hands reaching out to scattered high-heeled shoes, bags and cosmetics. Apparently, she did it for attention, disregarding the consequences of her behavior. She did end up getting over 50,000 clicks and nearly one thousand comments on the TikTok platform, but was later fined for breaking traffic safety regulations.

So how come these “falling stars” photos are so popular?

At some point, social networks such as WeChat moments became platforms where people flaunted their wealth. Rich generations born with a silver spoon in their mouths post daily pictures of their seaside mansions or Lamborghinis, while white collar workers “accidentally” share their lives by hashtagging famous travel locations like Paris or London. There is nothing wrong with that as the essence of living is about letting people know what you have achieved in life.

The challenge however has an inherent sense of equality. At the start of the new series of American Horror Story: Apocalypse, the leader of the cult-like group says “Technology is what destroyed the world. Social media gave people the illusion that they were equal.” It’s a bit anti-social but true. Social media does make the world more equal and less hierarchical. Everyone, no matter wealthy or poor, could always find something to fall down next to and post it online. See, political correctness! Though first started by celebrities and elites, the challenge is easy for ordinary people to replicate. Unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, which intended to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the falling stars challenge is mainly for fun, and comes in more varied and innovative forms.

What’s funny about this falling stars challenge is that there is an underlying black humor in it. Falling face down to the ground, embarassing and disgraceful as it is, spreads a “take-it-easy” attitude towards life, or even a sense of self mockery. We should all learn to appreciate what we have in life.

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