As society progressed and the internet age dawned, messages, communications and connections shifted online. Not so long ago, writing to each other was popular and communicating face-to-face the norm. There is something sweet about a "Thank You" or "Best Wishes" card. Now, it's moved online and when it comes to wishing someone well, sending a double Koi or "liyu" will do.
I came to know about liyu while touring the Retreat & Reflection Garden at Tongli in November. As I took photos of the garden, my colleague exclaimed, "Oh my, come here liyu! Pray to liyu. Make me a liyu! Oh Wendy, some liyu for you too."
It didn't register with me at first and after a brief explanation, I realized how ignorant I was about fancy terms and how hip it is to use online language in our everyday lives. Every week, something new seems to pop up online and then everyone starts using it effortlessly.
The reason for the frenzy does not beat me, what surprises me is how insignificant many of these terms are. If we look at last year's top 10 list, liyu has more of a cultural connotation than other terms such as bicker queen, skr, Center spot and burn my calories.
Koi is a symbol of good luck and longevity since they can live up to 60, 70 or even 100 years. Yu (fish) sounds like abundance and pictures of the Koi can be found not just in imperial gardens but also in paintings and more. Its relevance and presence in Chinese culture and history allow easy adoption and a play on words, which helps make liyu a symbol of prosperity and good luck.
Forwarding the lucky Koi either as part of a phrase or in the form of a picture became a popular way of expressing good wishes and sincerity. This has replaced the usual tradition of visiting a temple and buying incense sticks, which as another form of cultural practice should not be allowed to disappear.
Compared to my childhood days when I did sweep tombs, wrote letters, made dumplings and moon cakes and participated in long chats, everything now feels like a fast food take-away: a saying suddenly spreads like wild fire and its "popularity" comes as quickly as it goes. I miss those old and slower days when it was easy to find that human touch and having things that occupied my real time away from anything online.
While the term liyu belongs to the smarter form of online language, I do hope that more ancient Chinese texts can see a revival and be more commonly used than simple online terms that for some reason become quickly adopted and digested. Ancient Chinese texts and sayings are much more significant and beautiful and thus, deserve our attention and popularity.