Thursday, 11 August 2016

Social withdrawal


In this post I introduced the Japanese word uchibenkei (内弁慶) which basically means a person who is quite quiet outside of the house but is literally king of the castle at home.

Let me introduce you to another Japanese word, Hikikomori (引き籠もり). This is the Japanese phenomenon in which adults lock themselves in their house and never ever leave. They basically withdraw from society all together.

They are (usually) men of all ages who just lock them in their rooms and never come out. It is estimated that there is close to one million people who are living like this.

There are all sorts of reasons why this phenomenon in Japan has occurred, although in saying this I'm sure that this happens in other countries as well but maybe not to the same extent as it happens in Japan.

Anyway, there are reasons for this. After reading this book  a few years ago I came to realise that the problem is society's as a whole not just the individual.

In this book written by Michael Zielenziger he suggests that the cause of this phenomenon is that these people have developed independent thought that society doesn't want to know about.

This Japanese proverb, 出る釘は打たれる, the nail that sticks out gets hammered down is a perfect expression for what the author is saying is happening in Japan. In saying that though, this does happen in other countries. In my home country, New Zealand and in Australia also there is a similar expression, 'tall poppy syndrome' in which society tries to bring high achievers down to their level.

I believe that the Hikikomori people do have a lot to contribute to society but they may have been bullied as a student or they may have had their ideas flat out rejected so when that happened they basically gave the middle finger to society and said if you don't want what I have to offer then you don't get me.

It is really unfortunate that this happens because nobody wins in this situation. Society loses out on these thinkers and the individuals lose out by not being able to contribute to society. It really is a sad situation.

So what can we do to get these people out in society again?

Well this is easier said than done but we have to accept that people are different. We can't just pigeon hole people into different groups and then bully them if they don't belong in these groups. As I said, that is easier said than done because there are always going to be negative people out there, people who want to bring you down a peg or two because in their mind you are growing too big for your boots.

We need to accept that people are going to be different to us and that is good. I mean how boring would the world be if everyone is exactly the same.

You will find that in the world that best friends are usually different personalities because they complement each other. The same goes for couples. One of the couple might be the outgoing one while the other person maybe a little bit more introverted. I know that I am attracted to women who are a little bit more extroverted. I don't have to lead the interaction all the time which would drain my battery very quickly.

How can we get these Hikikomori people out of their self-imposed cocoons? That is a very difficult question but it something that we need to think seriously about  because if we do indeed live in an extroverted society then this phenomenon may grow and grow and that isn't good for anyone.

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