What’s up with Japan?

14 Feb

February 14, 2011

I have always maintained that culturally, Japan is as far away from us as, well, North America is from Japan. To a certain extent I can understand. There is something paradoxical about a culture which so quickly adopted Western garb and certain Western habits while also keeping alive traditional Japanese values. It is not uncommon to see men and women in business attire mixing with people in kimonos and robes at the local marketplace. However, it is hard to give them any kind of a pass when I read things like this:

I see Japanese people in masks around New York too but I simply chalked it up to fear of the bird flu. Turns out I was wrong. To say I don’t get it is to grossly understate it. I shouldn’t be surprised though. Compared to America, huge number of teenagers (and not-so-teenagers) spend entire days and weeks online in cyber-worlds that are more important to them than life itself. It isn’t uncommon to see young Japanese kids styling their hair to emulate their favorite manga or anime characters. OK, so maybe people over here wear Superman t-shirts and get Batman tattoos, but have you ever seen whole age groups dyeing their skin green like the Hulk?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m making broad, unsubstantiated generalizations.

No I’m not.

Of course, this comes straight out of Japan.

Yeah, strapping yourself into a harness which electrically pulsates will really add “a human-like level” to online conversations. I wonder what the electric chair would add? More to the point, how long before this gets adapted for porn?

What is happening to human to human interaction when people think that a shirt which squeezes you while looking at your mother on a computer screen is the equivalent of a good night hug from your mom before you go to bed?

“For a while technology has been driving people apart, locking them in front of computer screens. Now we hope to use it to bring them together.”

No. All this new technology does is make it easier to be apart! Nothing can compare to another person’s touch, a parent’s embrace. Perhaps what we need is a device that kicks people off their computers so they can spend time with their families and get some genuine human interaction.

Taking this to the logical extreme, once this is perfected, you can take the human out of the equation completely. Once a computer screen and a hug shirt can mimic the human experience, how long until they can be programmed to do it with no person at the other end? Parents can program their computers to play goodnight messages, hug their kids, even tuck them in without all the hassle of actually doing it or even thinking about it. Kids are such a bother.

So why have them? The next step is not to replace the parent, but to replace the child. Why have a real child that poops and cries when you can have your computer mimic one? It can hug you, it can give you “a deep immersive experience.” All you would need is one child and millions of users can “interact” with it via these machines hooked up to computers. And it doesn’t even need to be a real child, just a computer program. Remember, this is the country that gave us the Tomagotchi.

Virtual parents and virtual children. The only upside is that with virtual sex, these losers will die out without ever procreating and maybe this whole stupid idea will become extinct.

6 Responses to “What’s up with Japan?”

  1. bmj2k at 12:06 am #

    Mr. BTR’s Blog Stats.

    1- This is a Valentine’s Day blog? If you know Mr. BTR, that explains a lot.

    2- An entire blog about Japan without a single Godzilla joke or reference? Mr. BTR is slipping.

    3- The whole Blog Stat concept dates back to the old MySpace era. If you’ve been with Mr. BTR since then, what’s wrong with you?


  2. Mac of BIOnighT at 9:20 pm #

    Well, I wouldn’t say these articles really talk about Japan. While it is true that there are many odd behaviors arising in Japanese society, it must be said that in most Western societies those very same behaviors turn into homicidal personalities, which is slightly worse…
    Masks are worn by everybody in every country; I’ve known many a woman who would never step out of their doorstep without three inches of make up on their faces if it was to save their loved one’s lives, just to give an example.
    As to the article about the cyberhug, it’s a very typical example of taking something that is nothing more than a curiosity or an isolated experiment and saying the whole nation has embraced it (no pun intended). When the world was still unknown and unexplored, the same thing was done by journalists and writers with all the “exotic” places on the planet, now it is still done (yes, journalists are still just a bunch of moronic sensationalists as they always were) with less immediately comprehensible countries like Japan. I can assure you that the average Japanese computer user is NOT thinking of sending cyberhugs to anybody (and the Japanese do not hug each other, by the way, so I can’t see how they could feel such a desperate need for a surrogate of something that’s not part of their culture anyway).
    My point is just: do not beleieve what journalists write, ever, and especially when they write about Japan 😉


    • bmj2k at 12:11 am #

      Mac, I should appoint you my ombudsman.
      I agree with pretty much all that you said, and your mask/makeup comparison brings up a great point, though I think the makeup is more for presenting yourself to the world a certain way and the surgical mask is a way of hiding from it. And your comments about journalists? Journalism has never really been all that it is claimed to be, and even the best examples of exposing corruption or muckracking can be looked at the opposite of the neutral journalist. As for my blog in general, if it were not for gross exagerration, generalization, and a dash or more of stupidity, I’d have no content. While the cyberhug may or may not be reflective of the culture I stand by my comments about how it would pull people apart rather than bringing them together.


      • Mac of BIOnighT at 3:24 pm #

        Well, I could reply that make up – when brought to that extent – is for hiding your real self to the world, but I guess that would require a longer discussion (some day I’ll tell you about my theory of the trans-humans). As to something like the cyberhug pulling people apart, I certainly agree with you. I think the greatest danger is that real life contacts (of any kind, I’m not talking about the physical ones only) are what make a person grow and become capable of handling situations of all kinds, while any cyber-experience is only as good as a mild training before the real thing but can’t possibly substitute for it. So people who only have a cyberlife will be totally unadjusted and incapable of handling their real life…


        • bmj2k at 3:28 pm #

          “Well, I could reply that make up – when brought to that extent – is for hiding your real self to the world.” I totally agree, but it does still also invite interaction while the surgical mask does not.

          I am dying to hear the theory of the sub-humans. Want a guest blog?


          • Mac of BIOnighT at 3:40 pm #

            “but it does still also invite interaction while the surgical mask does not.”
            Well, it does, if one is turned on by surgical masks ;-P
            The Trans-humans thing is not really a theory, actually, it’s just what I call a certain category of people. Ouch, my client has arrived, gotta split for now (in an hour it’ll be my head splitting, I know that already…)


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