Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 10, 2019

Pay for Praise

While waiting for my ride to the airport in Kampala last week, I sat in the lobby of the Fairway Hotel and perused a copy of the China Daily. One article in particular intrigued me — “Youths chat or pay their way to adulation.”

Praise, it seems, is in short supply in China — at least among young people who feel the pressure to perform and excel and meet very high family expectations. Dang Jianguo, an associate professor at Fudan Journalism School, observed, “In China, people have been traditionally reluctant to praise others.” That’s unfortunate!

Praise is an essential ingredient of the human emotional food pyramid. If you remove the nutrients that praise can provide then the result is malnourished individuals who, according to Jianguo, are “thirsty for praise.”

This thirst for praise has led to the development of “kuakua” online chat groups. In Chinese, “kua” literally means “to praise.” This new sub-culture platform has become super-popular among Chinese youth. Participants can receive free praise from fellow college students or complete strangers. If they come up short, then they can purchase “compliments.”

Things are really not much different in America or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. Praise is important to us, too. We tend to measure affirmation by using social media metrics. The more likes, the better we feel. Not sure how we survived in the days before social media gave us access to this kind of instant affirmation. But, somehow, we did.

Sun Jiashan, a researcher at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, is not too worried about the kuakua phenomenon. On the up side, she points out, “many youths have said that by joining the group, they have experienced the joy of praising each other.” That’s a good thing! Maybe when these kids become parents they will be more proactive about praising their kids thus eliminating the need for their kids to purchase praise.

The bottom line is that rejection is a terrible thing. No one likes rejection. Anne Murray spoke for all of us when she sang, “I was born to reject rejection. If only for today, Show me that you want me, Show me that you need me, Send a little love my way” (from her song “Send a Little Love My Way”).

The Bible certainly affirms the significance and worth of all human beings. In Psalm 8, David marveled at the fact that the God who created the universe considers us as more prized than the planets. Jesus also affirmed the worth of people. He spent time with those rejected by society and became known as “a friend of tax-collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19).

May we all look for opportunities to offer the kind of genuine and heartfelt praise that will nourish those who are hurting or doubting their self-worth. After all, no one should have to pay for praise.


  1. Good read! So many teenagers in America are seeking acceptance and healthy praise. Unfortunately, many have been disillusioned by social media and broken homes. With the rise of teenage suicide and adults as well, this is a good reminder to offer praise to those God puts in our path on a daily basis.

    • Good words, Charmé. Thanks for sharing.

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