Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Shut In

Shutting Themselves In

This weekend's NYTimes has an article on Japanese youths who shut themselves into their rooms for years at a time, shunning family and peers. They are sometimes high school dropouts, sometimes they are overachievers who burnt out.

The phenomenon is called hikikomori, with about 80% of known cases happening to males. The article quotes the doctor who first realized the phenonmenon, and talks about how it's a byproduct of globalization, how there will be increasing stratification between the highly successful Japanese businessmen and their counterparts who choose to be lackluster.

I don't know that this is a new phenonmenon - everytime I used to visit my cousin in Asia, he seemd antisocial, lost in a world of warcraft and computers, unwilling to acknowledge relatives from the U.S. While he was intelligent, he didn't apply himself as much in school, a fact that always disheartened his schoolteacher mom. But there were other factors - my ucle died in a car crash when he was really young, and my cousin wound up with a fairly curved back as a result of the crash. He has a noticeable hunchback, and a sneer to match.

I'm sure this isn't limited to Asians or Asian Americans either - one of my best friends behaves much like this, except that on the surface, he goes to his job everyday and then comes home, where he lives with his parents.

Once at home, he drifts off into a world of tv and LCD screens, listens to his newest CD that he bought on Amazon, and tunes everyone else out.

The reason this article caught my attention is because I am sick and logging multiple hours on the tv and computer as well...while I would never choose to lock myself away like this, back when I went to a pressure cooker school, there were days when I really resented my parents for pushing me so hard that I wanted to quit.

I guess we can look at this as the downside, or the never discussed underside of the model minority stereotype. How can people just opt out of life?


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