October 5, 2022
BEIJING – Zhao Xinxin grows wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage and pepper on her farm in Zhongying village, Zibo city, East China’s Shandong province. She also rears chickens.
Traditional? To a point. The 33-year-old differs from other farmers in that she always carries a smartphone to record her day-to-day life.
She’s a vlogger, filming snippets of her rural life and traditional homemade food for her 168,000 followers on video-sharing platform Douyin.
After quitting a job in city three years ago, Zhao went back home and turned to social media to give city dwellers a look into the countryside life.
What’s more, her videos can tap into the memory of homesick migrant workers through the nostalgic imagery.
“Through my lens, I want to bring the people, the land and the daily life in my hometown to people in front of the screen,” Zhao says.
She adds that she wants more people to know the place.
Named Jiuyue Yimeng on Douyin, she has posted about 70 videos, recording her life with her parents. The videos have garnered nearly 2.9 million likes.
A Douyin user called Liu Laoxian comments after her video that it is typical of what village life looks like.
Reminding her of her childhood in the countryside, another user named Sheng Yan says that Zhao’s videos makes her homesick. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheng Yan says she has not been home and reunited with her family for a long time.
“Many migrant workers coming from my hometown asked me to post more videos via social media, because they want to see how their families are doing,” Zhao says.
In her videos, she records the cheerful and precious moments in her life, such as her son’s birth and her grandpa’s 83rd birthday.
“I enjoy documenting these moments, which reflect the power of family,” Zhao says.
Using her influence on social media, Zhao has volunteered to help local farmers sell agricultural products through livestreaming, a burgeoning trend in the countryside.
Like Zhao, many people have become rural influencers who after years in the cities have decided to return to the countryside.
Thanks to the popularity of the short-video platforms, an increasing number of farmers share their lives online and use the internet as new sales channels.
These channels do not only bring higher incomes but also inject new life into the country’s rural vitalization.
According to an annual report released by Douyin earlier this year, rural-themed videos on the platform received more than 2.4 billion likes last year.
A report released by the China Internet Network Information Center in August showed that through June, China had a total of 962 million short-video app users. Of them, 716 million use livestreaming.
Under the guidance of Zhao, locals are catching up on the trend and turning to smartphones to sell their products.
“As a daughter of farmers, I want to bring good products in my hometown to more consumers directly from the farm to the table, making my little contribution to my village,” Zhao says.