When you think of seniors and their hobbies, you’d probably imagine taiji, walks around the park, perhaps dancing in one of China’s ubiquitous public parks.
Wang Jinxiang does all these things, except she livestreams her activities to thousands of viewers online.
She is just one of the many retirees trying to achieve success on the internet. Livestreaming is immensely popular in China, with over 100 platforms and Deloitte estimating the revenue generated by the industry to be around US$4.4 billion. On apps such as YY, there are 105 million users; viewers can also be ‘patrons’, sending gifts (in-app currency bought with real money) to their favourite performers.
The elderly are not the only unlikely group to have achieved online fame. Last year, a Chinese farmer named Liu Mama made headlines, amassing fourteen million followers on the Kuaishou platform and reportedly earning a million yuan (about a hundred and forty thousand dollars) per month through her Kuaishou account. Her livestream content? Her going about her daily farm activities.
Wang Jixiang originally applied to be a TV host, but was rejected because of her age. Livestreaming is an outlet for her to showcase her singing and personality.
Wang, whose main audience is aged over 60, has seen more and more older people connect with her online. She livestreams herself singing, whether in public or at home, and has amassed a sizeable following of 23,000 viewers. However, despite the support she has received, there is inevitably some backlash. In an interview with AFP, she admits that “there are some that berate me and say I am so old I should stop messing around”, and people often tell her to ‘leave it to the youngsters’.
However, she is largely unfazed and determined to continue doing what she loves, saying “they have their market audience and I have mine.” For Wang, the internet has brought her a world of possibilities: Later this year, she’ll be performing live in one of Beijing’s TV studios.
She said: “From a young age, I loved to sing, to dance, to move. Enjoy your life and do what you want. I believe it is a happy way to spend the later part of your life.”