Obsession with live streamers may prove costly
Global Times


(Photo: Global Times)

Live streaming is becoming popular among young Chinese people, and some youngsters may even do crazy things for it. According to media reports, a female cashier from Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province embezzled more than 5 million yuan (over $0.72 million) from her company to pay live streamers and send them virtual gifts. She claimed that she sent them tens of "super rockets," only to relieve her stress. 

A "super rocket," which costs 2,000 yuan ($289.1) each, is one of the most expensive virtual gifts on live streaming platforms. According to statistics, China's most popular live streamers can earn millions of dollars a year receiving virtual gifts. 

Live streaming, like social media, is seen as a way of interacting with people who have similar interests. It has become an important online entertainment source for Chinese people and a tool to share their personal lives -  from singing, gaming to playing music, eating and even sleeping.

But why are so many Chinese obsessed with live streaming and willing to pay for it?

Buying virtual gifts gives people satisfaction. When paying the live streamers, there is an interaction between audiences and the performer. People who send gifts may receive a "thank you, honey" or "love you, darling" message. Those who send expensive gifts may even get live streamers' WeChat ID or mobile number besides the "thank you so much for the super rocket". This gives people a feeling that the performer on the other side of the screen is closer to them. The live streamers will react as long as people pay.

Therefore, buying gifts for live streamers is considered worth it by the viewer because people can always get "rewards" in the form of gratitude, charming winks or the performers' contact information. Every penny seems to be worth it.

But it is irrational to pay huge sums of money to live streamers. It is a waste of time and resources to win such unreal satisfaction and joy. Even though someone can become a friend of a live streamer, the relationship would be unsteady as it started with money.

However, it's undeniable that some live streamers are diligent and humble. For example, some performers who are good at playing the guitar may teach people specific techniques. Audiences may learn a lot by watching live streaming, and it's reasonable for them to pay the live streamer because it's almost like taking a guitar lesson.

As the internet develops rapidly, live streaming has become a full-time job for many young Chinese. It's no big deal to buy small virtual gifts for live streamers, as long as the live streaming content is worth paying for. Besides, paying to watch also boosts the development of the live streaming sector.

But sending gifts to live streamers by embezzlement at one's workplace is unacceptable. On one hand, it's against the law, on the other, it's ludicrous to spend so much to catch the live streamer's attention. 

Live streamers are like ordinary businessmen, and their business is meant to only sell their products - the content of the live streaming, be it their personal experiences or entertaining skills - to the audience. Audiences should pay for the live streaming because the products are worth it, not because the sellers are attractive and are good at praising people with beautiful words. There is no need to be obsessed.