The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'angst'
The New York Times has a long and interesting article on the Japanese phenomenon of hikikomori, or of young Japanese dropping out of society and shutting themselves in their rooms for months at a time, emerging only to go to convenience stores at night or not at all:
A leading psychiatrist claims that one million Japanese are hikikomori, which, if true, translates into roughly 1 percent of the population. Even other experts' more conservative estimates, ranging between 100,000 and 320,000 sufferers, are alarming, given how dire the consequences may be. As a hikikomori ages, the odds that he'll re-enter the world decline. Indeed, some experts predict that most hikikomori who are withdrawn for a year or more may never fully recover. That means that even if they emerge from their rooms, they either won't get a full-time job or won't be involved in a long-term relationship. And some will never leave home. In many cases, their parents are now approaching retirement, and once they die, the fate of the shut-ins - whose social and work skills, if they ever existed, will have atrophied - is an open question.
In other societies the response from many youths would be different. If they didn't fit into the mainstream, they might join a gang or become a Goth or be part of some other subculture. But in Japan, where uniformity is still prized and reputations and outward appearances are paramount, rebellion comes in muted forms, like hikikomori. Any urge a hikikomori might have to venture into the world to have a romantic relationship or sex, for instance, is overridden by his self-loathing and the need to shut his door so that his failures, real or perceived, will be cloaked from the world.
By Japanese standards, his room was enormous, with a wall of delicate shoji screens leading to a rock garden. But it was hard to imagine what he did there all day. There were no stacks of manga, the popular Japanese comic books, no DVD's, no computer games, all things found in the rooms of most hikikomori. The TV was broken, and the hard drive was missing from his computer. There were a few papers on his desk, including a newsletter from New Start that Kawakami brought on her last visit. Otherwise, the only evidence that this was a hikikomori's room were three holes in the wall - the size of fists. Shut-ins often describe punching their walls in a fit of anger or frustration at their parents or at their own lives. The holes were suggestive too of the practice of "cutting" among American adolescent girls. Both acts seemed to be attempts to infuse feeling into a numb life.
By the time parents seek help, often their child has been shut in for a year or more. "When they call," Dr. Saito said, "I offer them three choices: 1) Come to me for counseling; 2) Kick your child out; 3) Accept your child's state and be prepared to take care of him for the rest of your life. They choose Option 1." He also offers poignantly simple parenting tips, like not leaving dinner at a child's doorstep. "You make dinner and call him to the table, and if he doesn't come then let him fend for himself." In addition to meals, parents often provide monetary allowances for their adult child, and in rare cases, if a child has become verbally or physically abusive, parents move out, leaving their home to the shut-in.Parents of hikikomori now have support programmes to turn to, including volunteers known as "rental sisters", who try to befriend their children and coax them out of their rooms and into support centres, often over months or years.
There are multiple theories trying to explain the hikikomori phenomenon, but several frame it as a conscious rejection of the high pressure to conform and succeed placed on individuals in Japanese society; a conscious, if not particularly sustainable, decision to drop out of the traditional school-university-work career path.
On a similar note, Momus' latest piece in Wired News celebrates Japan's aging population and embrace of the "slow life".
Conrad Heiney, who worked in a Los Angeles newspaper during the 1980s, recounts stories from the personals department:
At first a couple of the women in the production department put in their own personals. This is how we discovered that the same guys send the same letter and the same picture to any woman who advertises at any time, ever. After a few weeks of this we had a "Wall of Shame" in the production room with ten in a row of the same 8x10 glossies and lovelorn notes. The pictures were real "keepers". I remember one gentleman in a cowboy hat and Speedos in front of his trailer, and another with a Tom Selleck moustache and a combover leaning on a Mercedes. That kind of thing.
And this was born the Great Personals Competition. Anyone who wanted could enter, and write their own fake ad. Whomever received the most responses in the first week won.
I don't remember most of the ads. I do remember the top two. #2 was courtesy our classifieds guy's girlfriend:Buxom blonde twins, 19, seek man for threesome. Pillow fights, tickling, and whatever else follows. Age, looks not important.
What is it about sexual desperation that makes for such a rich motherlode of comedy gold?
A 14-year-old boy in Manchester used internet chatrooms to arrange his own murder; masquerading as, among others, a 16-year-old girl, her step-brother, and a secret service agent named Janet, he managed to talk a 16-year-old boy he had never met into stabbing him. The other boy was told that it was an initiation into the secret services, and that the target was dying of cancer, which made him expendable; if successful, he was told he would get £500,000, a gun and a meeting with the Prime Minister. It apparently did not occur to him that there was anything unusual about this arrangement (persumably that's standard MI5 procedure for recruiting teenagers in chat rooms).
Update: more details have emerged, and it turns out that the stabbee had a hopeless crush on the boy who stabbed him, and instructed him (in secret-agent guise) to say the "codeword" "I love you, bro" as he did the deed. This is sounding more and more like a Smiths song.
Teenage Angst-Fest, a site where you can submit all the woeful vampire poetry and miscellaneous self-pitying shite you wrote in your teens, for the amusement of others; or laugh at the contributions other former teenagers have made. And in a more contemporary vein, The Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator. (via MeFi, Found)
Neurologists have discovered the cause of teen angst. Like many psychological phenomena, adolescent awkwardness and the resulting anxiety comes from physical changes in the brain; in particular, the parts of the brain that deal with emotions and social situations are diminished between the ages of 11 and 18, and the desire to listen to deliberately bad music probably comes from that.
Now perhaps someone will invent a pill for counteracting teen angst, and thus send Hot Topic and Interscope Records into bankruptcy.