How To Waste Time at Work: Cross Stitching With Spreadsheets

Some overworked Chinese youth have found a unique way to ‘touch fish’ (摸鱼, moyu), a Chinese slang term for slacking off at work. Instead of wasting time on social media or other unproductive activities, they have discovered the art of cross-stitching with spreadsheets.

To pass the time during long work days, some young Chinese workers have begun to create cross-stitch-style designs within Excel spreadsheets Rather than focusing on the work at hand, they use the program to create comic characters or emojis that resemble traditional cross-stitch patterns.

For them, this activity serves as a form of protest against the long working hours that have become the norm in many Chinese workplaces.

Chinese netizens are taking their love of digital cross-stitching to social media, sharing their designs and tutorials under the hashtag cyber cross-stitches’ (赛博十字绣, saibo shizixiu). The tag has become a popular way for Chinese youth to connect and share their passion for this innovative form of digital art.

Cross-stitching is an ancient form of sewing art that dates back to as early as 200-500 CE. This popular form of needlework involves using X-shaped stitches to create tiled, raster-like patterns.

While cross-stitching has traditionally been done by hand, the rise of digital technology has enabled a new generation of young people to put their unique spin on this time-honored craft.

Cross-stitching was a favored hobby in China during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it gradually declined in popularity as machine sewing became more prevalent and accessible. 

However, a new generation of Chinese workers is rediscovering the joys of this classic craft, with many using it to tap into the nostalgia of their childhood and to unwind and destress during long hours on the job.

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