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The ‘Zhenlouqi’ Floor Shaker: The Chinese Noise Machine to Take Revenge on Your Noisy Upstairs Neighbors

Noisy upstairs neighbors? The zhenlouqi is a way more effective revenge than hitting your broom against the ceiling.

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How to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors? Some Chinese e-commerce sellers say they have found the solution for you: get back at them by making their floors vibrate! The zhènlóuqì is marketed as a ‘magical tool’, but in reality, it seems to only make problems worse.

It is called the zhènlóuqì (震楼器), the ‘floor shaker’, a device designed to get back at noisy upstairs neighbours. Over the past weeks, the zhènlóuqì has been popping up more frequently in stories on Chinese social media.

Due to various local Covid-related lockdowns across China over the past weeks, many people have again been spending a lot of time at home. For those living in residential apartments, neighbors making noise can be a real nuisance – especially if it is the upstairs neighbors who can leave you feeling powerless and annoyed with their heavy walking, stomping, pushing chairs, or loud music.

To put an end to the suffering of downstairs neighbors, there is the ‘floor shaker’ (also called ‘vibration motor’ 振动马达), an electrical device that can be attached to the ceiling and will drive your upstairs neighbors crazy by creating floor vibrations.

Image by 快资讯new.

The device was first sold on Chinese e-commerce site Taobao in 2015 as a “magical object” to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors and has become more popular over the past few years with many different online stores selling them. Its original intended use is actually not to torment neighbors; electric vibration motors are used in many different industrial applications, including in product quality control and mining operations.

Together with a supporting pole, a small zhènlóuqì can be placed against the ceiling. Once it is turned on (remote control included) the floor above the ceiling will start to shake.

Floor shaker advertisement.

Unsurprisingly, various social media stories and videos prove that the zhènlóuqì is not really the magical device it claims to be, as it often only worsens the relations between neighbors.

One video posted on Weibo recently showed security footage from a residential building where one man angrily came to the door of his downstairs neighbor with a long knife, asking if they had installed a ‘floor shaker.’ The woman at the door then answered that there’s always noise coming from his apartment, with him responding that all they hear every day is the vibrating of the floor shaker. The man’s partner then suddenly appears out of nowhere and the altercation turns into a physical fight.

Another story is that of Mrs. Chen who moved into a new apartment in Hangzhou in 2020 together with her husband, little son and mother-in-law. Although the family was leading a normal life without making a lot of noise, the downstairs neighbor kept complaining about their stomping and the moving of furniture. Although they tried to be as quiet as they could, the downstairs neighbor eventually installed a floor shaker which would be turned on every night from 8 pm to midnight. Besides the fact that the family was bothered by the shaking floor, the noise also stressed them out and affected their sleep.

A floor shaking device being inspected. Image via 163.com.

Although the use of the zhènlóuqì is not necessarily illegal in itself, it does create a noise problem and also might do damage to the structures of the buildings – enough reasons for neighbors to call the police when they think their downstairs neighbors have installed such a device.

This is probably also why zhènlóuqì has now been flagged as a ‘sensitive word’ on Taobao, although the device can still be bought under other names for approximately 168 yuan ($26). The device is often not advertised as ‘taking revenge on neighbors,’ but as an effective method to create a quiet home, picturing a sleeping baby or someone relaxing in bed while the zhènlóuqì is turned on.

Some ‘floor shaker’ models even come with wifi and an app, so users can turn it on via their smartphone and annoy their neighbors – even when they’re not home themselves.

Another ‘magical object’ that recently went viral on Chinese social media is an ‘anti-square-dancing device‘ that helps local residents find some peace and quiet when dancing grannies take over their public squares with loud music.

The device is a remote control that can stop any speaker at a distance of 50-80 meters, leading to much confusion among those dancing on the streets why their music keeps stopping.

Although installing a zhènlóuqì might lead to worsening relations between neighbors, there are many people on Weibo expressing the wish to buy one: “I am lying awake again because of the noise the upstairs lady is making, I really want to buy one!”

With the ‘floor shaker’ becoming more well-known, the threat of buying one hopefully should be enough to make a noisy upstairs neighbor calm down.

For those who feel installing such a device would definitely be too extreme, there is always the classic broom or even a special extendable soft hammer sold on Taobao – which is also much cheaper than the zhènlóuqì– to make your neighbors aware that they are being too loud.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. L

    February 12, 2022 at 9:02 pm

    My neighbor uses it on me it’s weak it is a waste of money your better off moving t o a house

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China and Covid19

‘Voices of April’: The Day After

“The best way to make videos go viral is by censoring them.”

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On April 23, a day after the video ‘Voices of April’ briefly took over social media before it was censored, the trending topic of the day is a hashtag related to new Covid cases reported in Shanghai.

Shanghai reported higher Covid-19 cases and deaths on Friday than the five days prior, which showed a daily decline in new cases. Shanghai reported a total of 23,370 new cases (including 20,634 asymptomatic ones), the municipal health commission said Saturday. A related hashtag by Xinhua News received over 910 million views on Weibo on Saturday (#上海新增本土确诊2736例无症状20634例#).

Although the hashtag was initiated by state media to inform about the Shanghai Covid situation, netizens started using it to criticize Shanghai’s handling of the crisis, with more commenters questioning China’s zero-Covid strategy. Similarly, other state media-initiated hashtag places also became online spaces where Weibo users vented their frustrations earlier this month.

Besides the ongoing online criticism and vocal disagreement with China’s Covid handling and policies, there are also many who express shock at the recent crackdown of any form of protest or criticism regarding the situation in Shanghai.

“‘Voices of April’ has been shutdown all over the internet, I’m simply dumbfounded,” one person said about the popular video that contained real recordings of events that happened during the city’s lockdown.

“If you still can find the video anywhere, forward it,” another person writes.

Besides Voices of April (四月之声), there have also been other videos over the past week that are meant to expose the mishandling of the Covid situation in Shanghai.

One of them is titled Farewell, Language (再见语言), another one is Shanghai Late Spring (上海晚春).

Farewell, Language (再见语言) is a 42-second sound art video by artist Yang Xiao (杨潇), who used over 600 commonly used propaganda phrases from Chinese official channels and randomly broadcasted the audio in the community where he lives.

The anti-epidemic workers just continue their work and do not seem to notice anything out of the ordinary at all. The video shows how this kind of language has been so normalized that for most, it has just become background noise in their everyday life – without even noticing nor critically assessing its meaning or logic anymore.

The Shanghai Late Spring (上海晚春) video is a compilation of video footage from the Shanghai lockdown, showing people struggling to get food, violent altercations between anti-epidemic workers and residents, people living in deplorable conditions in quarantine centers, and more (link to video).

The video uses the song Cheer Up London by Slaves, its chorus being:

You’re dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead
.”

One Weibo commenter responded to the video in English, using a text from Les Misérables: “Do you hear the people sing / Singing the song of angry men / It is the music of a people / Who will not be slaves again!” The phrase “do you hear the people sing” was also used by other social media users to address the situation in Shanghai and the censorship of related topics.

“The best way to make videos go viral is by censoring them,” one commenter replied.

Read our previous article about ‘Voices of April’ here.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

The Voices of April – The Online Rise of a Shanghai Protest Video

‘Voices of April’ is the biggest topic in China’s Covid social media era since the death of Dr. Li Wenliang.

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Voices of April is a video containing edited audio snippets that show the reality of a Covid-stricken Shanghai where residents struggle with feelings of powerlessness. The video seeped into every corner of WeChat, but not long after, it was gone.

On Friday, April 22, a video was shared on Chinese social media and when the evening fell, it suddenly was on everybody’s smartphone screen.

Voices of April (四月之声) is a compilation of real audio snippets from conversations recorded in Shanghai throughout April, providing an emotional and heart-wrenching account of what residents in Shanghai have gone through since the Covid crisis started in their city.

By early Saturday morning, Beijing time, the Voices of April (四月之声) video had seeped into every corner of WeChat. Not long after, it was gone.

The video, made by a person named ‘Cary’, first seemed to have appeared online on Friday with the following message:

One month after the outbreak of the epidemic in Shanghai, I’ve seen too many online voices coming by which then soon disappeared. Over time, I’ve become somewhat desensitized, but some things shouldn’t have happened. Since they did, they shouldn’t be forgotten. Too many of our compatriots have suffered in ways that could have been avoided. I made a video, as objective and realistic as possible, as a record to remember the voices of April, and hope that all of them will pull through.”

The video in question, embedded below, is almost six minutes long. (Update: Here is a link to a version including English subtitles.)

It starts its narrative on March 15, just a day before Shanghai introduced its so-called “grid screening” strategy – meaning that every resident in a city Covid key area would do two nucleic acid tests within 48 hours. That day, the total amount of Covid cases since the onset of the outbreak in early March was 1156. The audio is real – as all snippets are – and was recorded during an official Shanghai Epidemic Prevention and Control news conference.

“Right now, Shanghai has no lockdown, and there is no need for a lockdown,” the spokesperson can be heard saying, while the video shows aerial footage of Shanghai city.

The video then jumps to March 26, when the total number of cases since the beginning of the outbreak had risen to 12,527 (asymptomatic and symptomatic combined), the daily new added cases being 2676.

Still, Shanghai officials can be heard saying that there will ‘never be a lockdown’ in the city, suggesting that Shanghai is not just important for Shanghai, it is important for the economy of the entire country.

The video then shows its title page: Voices of April.

The video, showing aerial footage of Shanghai for the entire six minutes, then continues with snippets of audio fragments starting at the beginning of April, with worried residents calling local authorities to voice their concerns about their personal situation after the sudden announcement of a phased lockdown in Shanghai on March 27.

Through dozens of audio snippets, we hear the voices of residents, delivery drivers, community workers, parents, children, Covid patients, pet owners, volunteers, and more.

In doing so, through the words of those who witnessed it, Voices of April raises the issues that so many have been concerned about over the past 25 days or more. Shanghai residents going hungry; food supplies going to waste due to mismanagement and failing logistics; parents and children being separated in quarantine facilities; people unsuccessfully trying to get urgent care for a medical emergency in their family; cancer patients being unable to return to their homes after getting chemotherapy at the hospital; Covid patients arriving at centralized quarantine locations that have no supplies nor beds; a desperate mother who finds herself calling out to neighbors to get medicine for her sick child in the middle of the night; pet owners in tears over their dog being killed by anti-epidemic workers.

“The virus is not killing people, the hunger is,” one voice can be heard saying.

“Distribute supplies! Distribute supplies! Distribute supplies!” a group of people can be heard shouting.

Through the audio snippets, it becomes clear that it’s not just residents who have been suffering throughout this whole ordeal – it’s the entire city, including its volunteers and community workers who are also helpless in helping others due to the policies in place.

The video ends with a black and white screen showing the characters “上海, 早日康复” (Shànghǎi, zǎorì kāngfù): “Shanghai, get well soon.”

Not long after the video went viral, Wechat and Weibo users discovered they were no longer able to forward the file, and soon all links to the video ended up leading to a ‘404’ deleted message.

The censorship seemingly only added fuel to fire. “[You want] war? War it is!”, some said, with others posting images protesting the censorship: “You can’t censor the unity of the people of Shanghai!”

Straight away, netizens started coming up with various alternative ways to refer to the title of the video to circumvent censorship, suggesting that there can never be a ‘zero policy’ when it comes to silencing people’s voices.

Nevertheless, alternative hashtags and phrases were also soon taken offline, such as the hashtag “The Voices of Shanghai” (#上海之声#).

“You can’t treat everything that’s being deleted as something that never happened,” one Weibo user wrote. Another commenter said: “What are you deleting? For what? What is so terrible for us to know that you’ve come so quickly to censor it?”

“It’s just a record of actual events, what good does it do to censor it? Originally, we were just sad, not angry. Now it’s a revolt of the people. A cover-up only makes matters worse.”

The only time during China’s Covid era when there was an online outpouring of anger comparable to this instance is probably when Li Wenliang passed away – the doctor who was initially silenced when he tried to warn others about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (read more here). His death, and the censorship surrounding it, also led millions of people to vent their frustrations online. The censorship, as in this case, only added fuel to the fire.

One word that many people commenting on the Voices of April video use after seeing it is ‘powerlessness’: “I watched the Voices of April. Putting all of the powerlessness together, this world seems even more helpless.”

“Tonight is the night of the deleted voices [404之声],” one Weibo user wrote.

For context:
Growing frustrations during early outbreak of the city’s Covid crisis
Children and parents being separated for isolation
Pet dog killed by anti-epidemic worker
Deplorable conditions at quarantine locations

Update, also read: Voices of April, The Day After.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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