Hecaitou: “Happiness”

The following is a translation of this post by popular Chinese blogger Hecaitou. It doesn’t deal explicitly with China, but it offers an interesting window into the way Hecaitou (and probably many other netizens in China and abroad) view the internet. As a fellow blogger, the feelings he describes here are not altogether unfamiliar to me, either. Hat tip to ESWN.


Today is April 1st, and I’m exhuasted, but I can’t sleep again, so I’m listening to “The Wind Keeps Blowing” and writing my blog. I’ve already been doing this for a while now, and I’m quite happy.

“Happy” [开心] is a messy word. It’s not very literary, it’s vulgar, and expresses an attitude that is fundamentally unattainable. People who say things like “You should be happy!” or “What’s most crucial in life is being happy” probably can’t even be happy themselves, so they always put “happy” into this kind of unpleasant sentence. But then, “happy” is an appropriate word, it describes a sort of thoughtless, careless cheer. For this reason, simple people use “happy” rather than more literary language like “joyful” [欣喜], “delighted” [欢喜], etc.

Recently I’ve been exhausted, busy to the point that I haven’t even had time to update my blog. This has never happened before in the seven years I’ve been writing blogs. Each day I only get four or five hours of sleep, with no time to read text messages. I speak in single words rather than full sentences on the phone. But every day when I come home, tired and expressionless as an idiot, inside there is a feeling of pure happiness.

Thinking back on the eleven years since I started working, my professional life has always been smooth. Because I’m stupider than most, I’m willing to do a little more, so the speed of my promotion has been decent, and my salary has risen steadily. But in terms of its nature, I really don’t like that job. Whether it was the early skills or doing adminstrative work, I just did things well to keep my salary up, that’s it. But I have always been fascinated with and passionate about the internet. I once counted it up; after three years of working the time I was putting into the internet was greater than the eight hours I spent at work each day.

Working every day for eight hours keeps me clothed and fed. And the more than eight hours I spend in my “career” on the internet can’t bring me those things. Other people make the sites, other people go to the NASDAQ, I’m just an internet user, can I guess what makes a website work? What it is that makes these sites operate? Sometimes [my guess] is right, and sometimes it’s wrong, but either way there’s no one who comes out to tell me what the real answer is. This is the real tragedy of such spare-time pursuits, you just see a part of if, but aren’t capable of creating it.

So when I do have an opportunity to do something myself, I throw myself into it completely. The year I first opened my blog, I slept only three or four hours a night. I didn’t understand anything, so I had to search half the night just to figure out how to add a link, and then in the early hours of the morning clumsily fill in the code. [Then,] goddamn it, connect to the FTP server and delete things, deleting again and again until the database was empty. When I got something right, even if it was five in the morning and I could barely open my eyes, I was very happy, because it meant I was creating something on the internet, not just being a user, and onlooker.

Two years ago, I suffered from a serious intestinal ulcer, and was hemorrhaging every day. Looking at information about it, I felt very hopeless, because there was no drug to cure it, just ways to manage the symptoms. According to the doctor, I needed to rest, adjust my attitude, and basically treat it like a chronic disease. Now, it’s been a long time since there have been signs of bleeding, and tests have indicated I have completely recovered. I couldn’t say what medicine it was that did it. I’m even more tired and burdened than I was before, but because I am so busy with doing something I like, even my body is willing to forgive me.

I like the internet, and I’m willing to throw all of my energy into it and toil for it. Doing something [well] on the internet, whether it’s a big or small thing, is what makes me happiest. Since birth, I’ve been close to many people through drinking together, and I’ve been close to many people through writing, but I really want to use the limitless potential of the internet to touch an infinite number of people. I don’t understand the technology or the structure, but I have my passion. Where my skills are insufficient, only my passion helps me achieve success.

So, it’s really hard for me not to be happy.

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