Unpacking the 91吃瓜 Phenomenon


In the vibrant tapestry of Chinese internet culture, few trends capture the collective imagination as vividly as 91吃瓜. This phrase, translating roughly to “91 eating melons,” is not just a fleeting meme but a reflection of the complex, dynamic, and often whimsical nature of online interactions in China. Understanding 91吃瓜 requires diving deep into the nuances of Chinese social media, exploring its origins, implications, and the broader context of internet culture in which it thrives.

What is 91吃瓜?

To grasp the essence of 91吃瓜, one must first understand the cultural significance of “eating melons” in Chinese internet slang. The term “吃瓜” (chī guā), literally “eating melons,” refers to being a bystander or an onlooker, typically in the context of internet gossip or sensational news. This expression evokes an image of someone casually munching on a snack while watching a drama unfold, emphasizing their passive, detached role in the spectacle.

The number “91” adds a layer of specificity and insider understanding to this phrase. While the exact origins of “91” in this context are somewhat elusive, it often denotes a sense of being part of an exclusive or informed group, those who are “in the know” about the latest trends and gossip. Therefore, 91吃瓜 embodies a community of netizens who avidly consume and discuss the latest sensational topics with a mix of detachment and amusement.

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The Rise of 91吃瓜

The rise of 91吃瓜 can be attributed to the rapid dissemination of memes and viral content through Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, Douyin (the Chinese counterpart of TikTok), and Bilibili. These platforms provide fertile ground for the spread of trends like 91吃瓜, where users share, remix, and amplify content at astonishing speeds.

This trend gained traction as it resonated with a broad audience who found a sense of camaraderie in collectively observing and commenting on the drama, scandals, and bizarre happenings that populate the digital landscape. The playful yet slightly cynical attitude encapsulated by 91吃瓜 struck a chord with many, turning it into a widespread meme.

Cultural Context and Significance

91吃瓜 is more than just a meme; it reflects deeper cultural tendencies in Chinese society. The popularity of this trend underscores the communal nature of Chinese internet culture, where shared experiences and collective participation in discussions are highly valued. In a society where traditional media is often tightly controlled, social media provides an outlet for free expression, albeit within certain boundaries.

Moreover, the trend speaks to the inherently social nature of Chinese internet users. Unlike the more individualistic tendencies seen in some Western online cultures, Chinese netizens often engage in collective behaviors, such as mass participation in online discussions, collaborative meme-making, and large-scale social movements. 91吃瓜 epitomizes this collectivism, inviting everyone to join in the fun of watching and commenting on the spectacle.

The Role of Humor and Satire

Humor and satire are integral to the 91吃瓜 phenomenon. The phrase itself carries a humorous undertone, suggesting a lighthearted, almost nonchalant approach to consuming news and gossip. This humor is a coping mechanism, allowing netizens to navigate the often absurd and chaotic nature of online content.

Satire plays a significant role as well. By positioning themselves as passive “melon eaters,” netizens can subtly critique the subjects of their observation. This detached stance allows for a form of social commentary that can be both incisive and entertaining. It’s a way for people to voice their opinions and frustrations without directly confronting the issues at hand, maintaining a sense of humor in the face of controversy.

Impact on Chinese Social Media Dynamics

The impact of 91吃瓜 on Chinese social media dynamics is multifaceted. On one hand, it fosters a sense of community and shared identity among netizens who participate in the trend. This collective engagement can enhance social bonds and create a sense of belonging.

On the other hand, the trend also highlights the ephemeral nature of online attention. The rapid consumption and discussion of trending topics often lead to a fleeting focus, with netizens quickly moving on to the next big thing. This transience can make it challenging for meaningful discussions to take root and for sustained attention to be given to important issues.

Furthermore, 91吃瓜 can sometimes perpetuate a passive consumption of content, where netizens become more focused on observing rather than engaging in active discourse. This passivity can dilute the potential for social media to be a platform for robust debate and meaningful change.

The Future of 91吃瓜

Looking ahead, the future of 91吃瓜 seems promising, albeit with some caveats. As long as there are sensational stories and gossip to be shared, the trend will likely continue to thrive. However, its evolution will depend on the broader dynamics of Chinese social media and the regulatory environment.

With increasing scrutiny and regulation of online content in China, the ways in which trends like 91吃瓜 manifest may change. Netizens might need to navigate more carefully, using even more nuanced and coded language to continue their playful observations. Nevertheless, the spirit of 91吃瓜 – the joy of communal spectating and the humor in detachment – is likely to endure.


What does 91吃瓜 mean? 91吃瓜 translates to “91 eating melons” and refers to a trend where netizens observe and comment on online gossip and sensational news with a sense of detachment and humor.

Why is 91吃瓜 popular on Chinese social media? The trend resonates with users because it fosters a sense of community and shared experience, allowing people to collectively observe and comment on online dramas in a playful manner.

How did 91吃瓜 originate? The term combines “吃瓜” (eating melons), a Chinese slang for being a bystander, with “91,” which often denotes being part of an informed group. It originated from the rapid spread of memes and viral content on platforms like Weibo and WeChat.

What cultural significance does 91吃瓜 hold? 91吃瓜 reflects the communal nature of Chinese internet culture and the use of humor and satire as coping mechanisms and forms of social commentary.

How does 91吃瓜 impact social media dynamics? The trend fosters community and shared identity but also highlights the ephemeral nature of online attention and can sometimes perpetuate passive content consumption.

Will 91吃瓜 continue to be popular? As long as sensational stories exist, 91吃瓜 will likely continue to thrive, though its manifestation may evolve with changes in the regulatory environment and social media dynamics.


In conclusion, 91吃瓜 is a captivating example of how internet culture can reflect and shape social dynamics. This trend, rooted in the playful consumption of online drama, speaks to the communal and humorous nature of Chinese social media. While it highlights some of the challenges of online engagement, it also underscores the creativity and resilience of netizens who find joy and connection in shared experiences. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, 91吃瓜 will remain a testament to the enduring power of collective observation and commentary in the world of internet culture.

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