Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The plight of Japan's hikikomori (bbc.com)
83 points by pseudolus 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments

I knew before seeing the source that it was BBC. They've had some strange fixation with dystopian Japan and perceived issues in contemporary Japanese culture for years now. Very rarely reporting about similar classes of stories from other foreign countries like that.

The same stories get recycled again and again.










(This one is ironic: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b064ww32?ns_mchannel=social...)

The banner at the top of this story seems to indicate that it's part of a BBC series called "Japan: Untold stories", which could explain the frequency of similar stories: http://www.bbc.com/future/columns/japan-untold-stories

people love reading about it, yours truly included. i feel a spiritual affinity with them.

Tom Cahill, in his book "Mysteries of the Middle Ages" [1] explains explains how in ancient times, people had very different attitudes towards hermits, shut-ins, and the like:

"Though often represented as a period of repression... the Middle Ages offered - at least in religious roles - more options than now allowed. ...in the Middle Ages such social oddities were welcomed and assigned a place of honor. While the rest of us went about our worried lives, they prayed for us continually, speaking to God on our behalf."

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=_vikHFhqIwIC&source=gbs_na...

It seems to me that being a young man has become harder. More pressure to achieve and more status trinkets to get. Not like fancy cars, but having a cool job, work out and travel a lot and so on. My dad had it easier than me, and I in turn have had it easier than what my sons will have it.

In the documentary 'Flight from Death', Prof. Sheldon Soloman touches on the idea that there are serious psychological consequences of the rising expectations we as a society put on people in a world of diminishing opportunity, which I found rather profound. Here's the relevant clip, if you're interested:


At about the 3:00 minute mark in that clip he claims that we don't have a set of values in place that makes it acceptable for a person to simply be someone of integrity. I.e. our culture demands that you be rich, famous, thin and good-looking.

This is a ridiculous claim. While our culture certainly places an outsized (IMO) emphasis on celebrity and wealth most people, most of the time, aren't fixated on becoming the next Musk or Kardashian and are able to lead exceedingly satisfying lives.

If the the conditions of the hikikomori - or the West's version of them - are rooted in their anxiety about living up to what they see on TV and in celebrity media then a healthy dose of Buddhism or Stoicism is probably called for.

My view isn't that the kids these days are asking for more than their fair share. What they want is what their parents had; a wife and family, a home and a decent job. But the hoops they have to jump through to get there are much higher than there were for us in the old generation. So they give up and spend their time on video games and porn. They aren't chasing the billionaires of the world - they are chasing Al Bundy!

I doubt that most people are able to lead exceedingly satisfying lives. And I don't know about celebrity but wealth is something that has always been fixated on. Not just today, but since a long long time ago. In fact, I think it's a natural human instinct to gather as much resources as possible.

How do these people live/survive? Do they have income coming in from somewhere or do their families support them? I know a few people that would like to stay inside and do stuff they really like (play games, read books, draw, write...) but they don’t have the means to do it. Another issue has to do with the actual physical/materialistic reality. Don’t they need to buy food, put the garbage out, visit the doctor, buy stuff...how is it possible for someone to stay months or years inside the house?

"Japanese parents feel a strong obligation to support children no matter what and shame often prevents them from seeking help, says Kato."

They usually mooch off their parents.

My wife’s uncle became a social recluse after his wife passed away. Everyone in the family sees him as just this odd person, but I’m pretty sure he is either depressed, mentally ill or both. After his wife passed he would not go out of the house for long stretches. He is retired and collects a good pension so money is not an issue. Despite living maybe 20 feet across the street from us, we hardly ever see him. He goes to his mother’s for dinner every day but to catch a glimpse of him is a rare sight. I’d say I’ve seen him maybe twice a year these past few years. It’s unknown what he does at home and how much technology plays a role in his behavior, but I suspect he is a gamer or has some sort of addiction.

I have personally struggled with gaming addiction for years, leaving at times and then getting sucked right back in without any self-control. Just recently I got hooked on Elder scrolls online and it took some struggling to let go. I can say for certain that gaming deepens whatever emotional state of isolation one can experience. Despite having fun, the feeling of loneliness gets stronger. I think if I didn’t have my wife and kid I would probably spend my life hunched over a screen dying while I play an mmo. I would get so depressed I’d probably let go of any form of self-care and fade into a blob of flesh and bodily fluids.

For all the bringing together that technology is supposed to do, I feel like it had a complete opposite effect. Sure, for some it’s awesome to stay in touch with people you wouldn’t have stayed in touch with otherwise, but in general it has made society more closed and people isolated from one another.

Your story reminds me of a story about heroin addicts in Russia who started taking krokodil (a homemade version that causes slow body death and decay). Addicts retreat into their addictions to hide from their problems. It gets harder and harder to break the cycle, because they don't address the core issue and they are creating more problems from themselves (physical, legal, social isolation). In the case of krokodil, stopping the drug meant dealing with the pain/shame of open sores and rotting flesh. Many people think of addiction in terms of physical symptoms and mental toughness. In many cases, human addiction is a tragedy on a mass scale. The people that work with addicts are truly doing God's work.

It's different in Russia than in America, but this makes me think about the McKinsey news item that came up the other day, and how they essentially guided Purdue to juice opioid sales. Of course, once prices go up and addicts cannot afford their prescription that was likely not issued in the best faith, it is no wonder that they turn to cheaper, but frequently impure and lethal fentanyl. I agree with you that people who work with addicts are truly doing God's work; no matter how secularly I want to phrase it, when I see large scale addiction it is very difficult not to see the abstract idea of the devil. People physiologically enslaved to a chemical, slowly dying, facing an uphill battle against tolerance and death -- it's all so very bleak, even more so because it is in the present moment and was fully supported by the public health care system. One wonders where the oversight was; and who is responsible? Maybe we all are responsible.

Agree fully on the points about people working with addicts, and Purdue seem to have no moral compass to counteract the profit motive. About the enslavememt to the chemical itself, it’s more complicated. The drugs primarily tend to serve as substitutes for the natural positive reinforcers the addicted person is missing, and there’s often a history of trauma and psychological unhealth prior to the drugs entering the picture. Like for the Krokodil users in the parent post, the natural and externally imposed consequences of maintaining the habit lead to a negative spiral where there’s more pain, suffering and hopelessness to face when trying to quit. I highly recommend Johann Hari’s book ”Chasing the Scream”, and Gabor Mate’s ”In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts”. Truly enlightening reads if one wants to better understand addiction

Thanks you for the suggestions and for pointing to a more realistic point about addiction. As I see - and I've been living in this for many years - addiction has nothing to do with the chemical. Johann Hari has some very good thoughts on the topic. The first time I heard about him was this talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/johann_hari_everything_you_think_y...

His books worth checking out too. As someone who struggled with addiction since childhood it is something I can very much relate to.

Thanks for the recommendations! I'd love to give them a read if I get a chance in the near future.

IMHO the family, friends and social surroundings play a big role in it. If you don’t have someone to take care of you (or you to take care of someone else), then I guess it’s easier to withdraw and shut everyone out.

Im not sure these people are mentaly ill. In the past such people were lauded as important thinkers. A monk living a minimalist life was not sick. Hermits living alone, most always in pathetic circumstances, were consulted for thier wisdom. How many of our great religeous leaders spent some years huddled in a cave alone? These people may not be normal, but i dont think this is a new problem... if it even is one.

Not everyone gets to have a good job, a wife, kids and a house. Our society is very competative. There are worse reactions than becoming withdrawn. These people are not violent. They are not addicted to drugs. They are not in prison. There are far worse social ills.

And lighthouse keepers. That used to be a thing.

Being addicted to drugs is probably not as big of a problem as the hikkomori. While doing drugs you can productively contribute to society and most addictions naturally pass as people get older. I’m not sure the same is true with the hikkomori. Also many hikkomori do become violent or engage in self-harm: lashing out at themselves or their family.

After spending 8 years in your room and only talking to your parents through a door, it probably takes a huge toll on your mental health. And since Japan is a shame/honor-society, the effects compound very quickly. To make matters worse, once you fall out of the “right” track in Japan, you are categorically excluded from certain forms of work and social status.

This means that if, say, you stay in your room a year after high school instead of going to college, you will never be accepted into college for the rest of your life. You will never be able to get a high status salaryman job. This leads to a mindset that there’s no going back and that the rest of their lives are ruined.

The hikkimori are a class of people that suffer from a culturally specific syndrome that would manifest itself in other ways outside Japan/Asia. Depression or anxiety probably.

I think a large part of the problem is that it is very common in Japan for children to live with their parents for a relatively long time compared to Western (or at least American) society. And since Japanese culture is built on the honor/shame duality, everytime the child disappoints their parents, the effects compound. This eventually leads to a point where the child is so ashamed, they just lock themselves in their room to escape.

If children just left the house earlier, I think this would solve a lot of problems. They would leave their rooms because no one would be there to judge them.

As an aside, it’s interesting that the problem is only with men. Women are held to a lower standard and don’t feel the type of pressure as men to become successful and honor their parents.

Yes but my point (above) was that in the past these people gravitated to various lifestyles that were then very acceptable. Today those lifestyles are not available. So this isn't a new illness, rather changes have occurred in our society so that these people are no longer well accommodated.

Hikkomori is not strictly a Japanese phenomenon. It is becoming increasingly common in the West.

> most addictions naturally pass as people get older

Is this true?

I don't see it mentioned so I wonder if that 'aging out' effect takes into account people just dying. I.E: On average these addictions are either dealt with by 4/10/15 years or it's deteriorated bad enough for the person do die.

The whole point of a complicated economic system is to put up with all that precisely because every one gets to have a good job, spouse, kids, nice place to live. And its worked pretty well until lately. The only outcome of failure is substantial real change, war/imperialism/colonialism, collapse, or revolution.

Some argue that retreat into religion has historically resulted. Looking at the modern situation, we seem to be retreating into tech-assisted virtue signalling as our religious retreat. Sounds bizarre to make an argument that facebook or tumblr might be delaying cultural collapse by a decade or two in some areas, but I have read stuff like that.

Not talking about Japan specifically, this is basic human history and archeology stuff.

People can, have, and will put up with anything as long as it "works" for them, and when it no longer works, that's the end of that civilization's business model.

Historically speaking, nothing quite says "war and revolution" like a large and growing population of angry young men who were promised the world if they cooperated and now they're getting nothing.

I've heard the angry-young-men-cause-political-instability argument before - but this is the first time I've seen it applied to young men locking themselves in their bedrooms. To participate in war and revolution don't you have to, you know, leave the house?

Oh I'd agree with you and extend your remarks such that we're unlikely to see a large scale WW2 re-enactment but rebels gotta rebel and you don't need a job or a girlfriend to vote.

I would argue that two effects might invalidate the claim against warfare. Human labor has been reduced in warfare, and democracy abstracts personal responsibility from decisionmaking.

For example, 5M dudes in their moms basement could vote, while remaining in their moms basement and never reaching the front lines, to extend the near shooting war between China jet fighters and Japanese recon planes that happened a couple years ago over that recently discovered East China Sea natural gas field. The kids will never personally fight unless something goes horribly wrong, and if the Japanese win, the kids will never work on offshore natgas platforms, but the economic effects of all those petro-dollars would raise all the boats in the entire country, such that 5M kids might get work at home or even salaryman jobs eventually leading to house, wife, and kids, and I bet a politician could court 5M or so votes using that logic. Politicians always seek power regardless of long term outcome. I mean, WRT the incident from 2014, we're not talking about hikki kids volunteering to personally fight in the jungle, all they have to do is tend to vote for people who tend to support a couple air force pilots being somewhat more aggressive than usual.

A similar dude with a job, wife, young kids, house, is not going to risk a war with China over some natgas fields and is not going to vote for a warmonger strategy politician. A kid kicked out of society because their isn't space in society for him anymore, has literally nothing to lose and everything to gain at the ballot box.

People who acquire the carrot on a stick are inherently small C conservative, and people kicked out of society's lifeboat are inherently rebellious, so its not even a simple binary thing of war or no war, its more an issue where political instability gets an automatic plus 5M points, which will lead to globally crazier outcomes than having zero additional automatic points.

Society failing kids by not delivering promises from national mythologies is a national security threat and a threat to global peace. Naturally of course everyone's gonna blame the kids and parents which is not going to fix anything, and if anything will just radicalize them further. "I thought I followed all the rules and didn't get what I was promised so I was just unlucky or they slightly disliked me, but turns out they hate me, so F them all lets nuke China and take their resources". And of course with a growing population around the world of the dispossessed and lied to, this is going to be a huge mess.

>> To participate in war and revolution don't you have to, you know, leave the house?

2016. One can very effectively wage a "war" through social media. Hacking aside, any angry young man (or woman) with an internet connection can foment serious change. He can get people out on the streets. He can trigger violence.

Let's be honest, I doubt most of these people became gurus or lighthouse keepers. Most of them probably died young or killed themselves. But I do agree, the "good job, a wife, kids and a house" is probably not attainable for everyone. But lets not pretend that this is somehow justified or fair or something; life is full of injustices.

No, but there were probably a lot more opportunities for solo types in the past. In a world that was a lot less committed to everyone oversharing and having a full set of soft skills even to be an engineer or accountant.

I can't agree with this more or upvote it enough. Having alone time and living a life of the mind was something that was /much/ more doable historically than it is in modernity. It's a great shame of modern existence in my mind, perhaps a cardinal one.

Engineers and accountants have always had to have a "full set of soft skills." You'd have to look at agriculture or hunting and trapping to find any significant group of lone individuals.

And even then, during the American colonial period and likely before, anyone who didn't participate in society would be regarded as seriously odd, at best.

That’s not accurate. “Softskills”, a wholly an individual pursuit, is a modern phenomenon. Individualism on this level is not even contextually concievable in historical societies which sufficed a lot of the purposes served by “softskills” with structure and culture. By maintaining a congruence of experience and balance of relations in a society as a whole, “softskills” as you are considering them, are relatively irrelevant. Of course, you will have your exceptions, but until electronic media/radio, great leaders did not even have the opportunity to deliver ther soft skills far. The whole individualist notion of “softskills” speaks to the atmosphere that rationalizes hikkikomori.

You don't need electronics for softskills to matter. You need people to achieve things through other people. That always mattered great deal.

There are whole books of past leaders speeches. Generals trained the speeches. In ancient Rome, rhetorics was the most important things a citizen boy had to learn.

Bob Cratchit didn't need rhetoric, or soft skills, just the ability to keep Scrooge's records in poor working conditions, and say yes sir. Same for a bookkeeper, rail engineer or mill worker.

Nor in the army or navy, unless commissioned (which was bought before about 1860, so you could be as dysfunctional as you like if you could afford it). Some of the most well known Victorians and Edwardians were pretty eccentric. To a degree that we'd probably find them dysfunctional today. Now we seem to expect a little of everything in everyone.

Bob Cratchit was made up, underpaid and abused. How is that argument for anything good? Bookkeeper needed ability to communicate with employer in about the same measure then accounting needs now. Ditto rail engineer. Lack of ability to fit in in army means a lot of bullying that you will have to endure. Nevertheless, it is not like you needed rhetorics to be marine now.

We have well known eccentric people now. Neither implies all that much about average person life. Nor that the average person would get away with the same. House hold servant would not be tolerated eccentricity.

> A monk living a minimalist life was not sick. Hermits living alone, most always in pathetic circumstances, were consulted for thier wisdom.

Monks and hermits were praying to their God and meditating on spiritual topics, not playing video games and posting on internet forums which is what the hikikomori mostly do.

Thought experiment. Which of those provides more value over the long run? Both to the invidividual and to society at large.

Do you consider your posting in this thread to be a overall positive? I do. I think it provides more value than praying over the topic would. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t necessarily consider the hikikomori to be worse than monks.

Just a thought.

Monasteries seek to be self sufficient and work is part of daily routine of monks. Also, monastery has a choice of accepting novice or not and monk has to put in a lot of effort to be accepted in. They are subject to strict rules and discipline. Monks did not just unilateraly closed themselves off expecting parents to take care of them.

Also, monks made or should made thought out choice. They did not locked themselves out of depression, fear and lack of energy to go outside.

I don't find being monk or nun something that makes much sense, but it is not nearly the same thing.

Monks working diligently copying books (which were easily destroyed or lost for a few thousand years, so every copy was additional safety from being lost forever) are the only reason we have so many ancient texts.

I think the sum of monks probably provided more value than the hikikomori, especially if you consider second order effects (preserved texts allowed the Florentine re-discovery of classical Greek/Roman philosophy, starting the Renaissance period)

> I think it provides more value than praying over the topic would.

You seem to think I'm advocating religion somehow; if so, you are quite mistaken.

Yes, spending time contemplating philosophical and spiritual questions, whether through a secular context or a religious context, is going to provide more value to the individual (and, indirectly, to society) than playing video games or posting on HN. How is this even in question?

I don't think a philosopher or mystic who chooses a life of contemplative solitude for a period of time is at all the same phenomenon. There might be a superficial resemblance but the intellectual recluse will be thinking, meditating, or doing, not playing video games and watching TV shows. A Buddha or Jesus who goes into the wilderness comes back and operates just fine.

It's not noble like a monk, lighthouse keeper, or classical hermit if the person is farting around on the internet all day seeking entertainment.

Consider the contents of "The Confessions of Saint Augustine" the point being that a million other kids wasted their youth screwing around, but it only took one with some writing skill to have a ridiculously outsized impact on the world.

And that's just the positive side. On the negative side, it seems a realistic hypothesis that The Unibomber had more total overall long term impact on society than all of Reddit. Realistic in the sense that its doable 50:50 odds debate topic, not realistic in the sense that obviously my hypothesis is unarguably correct. One weirdo deciding to voluntarily drop out of society and live alone in the woods causes X amount of drama, but kicking 5% of your population out of society and forcing them to angrily live alone in the woods will result in one-zillion times Z amount of drama.

Was it really like that and aren't those just myths? You don't become leader sitting in cave, you become forgotten. Your survival in the past was more dependent on community and your place in it, not less so.

Also, based on article, they are in distress and not happy with themselves. Also, they are completely dependent on their families help and don't contribute to household work at all. Even if they would be happy, there is issue of other people being taken advantage off having to care about them despite not wanting to.

Doesn't mean the monks or recluses didn't have some type of mental issue

> And lighthouse keepers. That used to be a thing.

Ah yes the lovely mercury fumes.

>A government survey found roughly 541,000 (1.57% of the population)

Something's not right about that figger. 1.57% out of a pop of 126MM is roughly 2MM.

Presumably only counting people of a certain age, i.e. excluding retirees or people above a certain age and children.


Also the “neet” phenomenon.

Oh, this is the UK "Not in Education, Employed, or Training", right?

Its people who've been stratified out of the workforce, and can't pay insane rates for education of either university level or trades.

How exactly are we tracking this? I know in the USA, we cheer and hooray when the unemployment numbers go down, but those are pegged to "how many people get unemployment"... And after at most 2 years, they drop off. And that makes the numbers on 'unemployment' go down!

I imagine the burgeoning blossoming of tent cities across the United States is our expression of this phenomena. I also think it's a horrible way to address the problem that will eventually bite us in the ass if it isn't already doing so already, but that's another discussion.

can't pay insane rates for education of either university level or trades.

Well, yes and no. It’s true that university is expensive (but you don’t need to repay loans until you are earning over a certain threshold). However it’s also true that if you take an apprenticeship a) you will be paid during training and b) a skilled tradesman or tradeswoman can easily out-earn most graduates, and this is well known.

You're right; if you take an apprenticeship, you learn on the job and get paid.

if you can find and be accepted by one

In my area, we have a few trade unions and a steamfitters training facility. They take new potential apprentices 2x a year. When I looked into one a while back, there were over 500 people in front of me on the _reserve_ list. I nope'd out and looked for other avenues. There were a few others, but also had similar insane lines with estimates of years before getting an apprenticeship.

So yeah, while that path does exist and costs no cash out of my pocket, its mostly wishful thinking that this is a "get in, learn and do, and get paid" and more of a "hurry up and wait... maybe".

It shouldn't seem similar to you. Incels and the hikkikomori phenomenon have very little, if anything to do with each other. From what I gather, incels are a group of people focused on believeing that they are owed sex or companionship in some way, and frequently a derisive attitude towards women who have had multiple partners or partners they regard as low quality etc.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that incels are shut-ins, or an American take on what is essentially the concept of shut-ins in Japan. While I'm sure some hikkikomori do harbor such opinions, I find no reason to think they essentially do, or that it tends to it. If anything, I'd say that the phenomenon is much more similar to MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), which seeks to reject romantic involvement, at least with women. Again, even that is a stretch.

Where do you get the idea that incels tend to be anime fans? I have the idea that people with more time on their hands who face social rejection turn to media and worlds to the periphery, which anime and manga provide very well - whole worlds of immersive entertainment that's produced every day, huge fan communities to throw yourself into. This is why it might apply to hikkis and NEETs.

I'd also question the idea that hikkikomori are simply less angry incels, or something along those lines. Feeling rejected and a distaste for "3D", opting for the world of fantasy is actually almost the opposite of the incel phenomenon, which is very much focused on what they take to be real world causes to their real world problems.

From what I've read and heard I've always seen them as partial shut ins or at least deeply alienated with friends online only. I think the deeper similarity that I see is "young men who feel completely rejected or without a place in the culture." My understanding of the superficial aspects may indeed be wrong.

There's a lot of interesting cultural work going on with the phenomenon of otaku and their relationship to media in Japan, and some of it's inspiring for research in the West too. Patrick Galbraith explores the lolicon phenomenon, for instance. What gets to me most is when people treat them with derision or contempt or buzzwords to dismiss their problems, plight, and twisted as it may seem to us, way of life. I genuinely think that many hikkikomori or otaku have a more refined appreciation of the fictional world than those who must live day to day in the real world.

I think you meant "neckbeard" or "basement dweller" as opposed to "incel."

Superficially it seems like it but I would say no. Being a hikikomori is a mental disease whereas incels is a political movement. Most notably, it's rare for a hikikomori to hold a job or even leave the house. Incels still participate in the economy and even socialize with like-minded people. They're not anti-social, they're anti-socialism.

Why would they be "incel" then? There are loads of right leaning women who probably complain that there are no men who want a traditional family anymore. There are seven billion humans. If you can't find one with common values you might be looking in the wrong places.

Of course a woman with traditional family and religious desires is still going to want to be treated with respect, so maybe that's a problem (from what I've seen of the "red pill" cult that overlaps incels). A major gripe of stay at home moms I know is that men do not respect the importance of what they do or the validity of their choice and look down on them.

Are you asking why they are incapable of finding sexual partners if they have some basic level of social competence?

The incel movement is mostly a self fulfilling prophecy. A group of men who failed to get partners and rather than attributing the failure to themselves, attributed it to the women. Thinking that they are low quality males and it is the women’s fault that their standards are too high. In the absence of this belief, they could probably find someone as you say. But they have convinced themselves that women as a collective will not accept men of their caliber. It’s an unusual message of “it’s not my fault I’m bad” and you won’t find much logic to it. Basically it’s angry men with low self esteem but high entitlement.

They are incel because they want sex and don't have it. That is not the same thing as wanting traditional familly. They essentially want trophy girlfriend as a social status symbol not a person. They are not willing to deal with relationships ups and downs and compromises that happen in traditional families.

They are not closed in their rooms long term nor necessary unemployed. They go to school, gym, meet like minded friends.

incels are an extreme subculture or a decentralized cult but it’s a pretty big stretch to call them a political movement

>They're not anti-social, they're anti-socialism.

Is this true? Although I get the impression that the incel movement is right-leaning, is there any reason to say that it's an essentially anti-socialist movement? What are its political goals? Is it even a movement?

I don't think this is true. Didn't their guru Jordan Peterson once call for "sexual redistribution"?

Where on earth did you get this idea about incels from?

Admittedly I've never (that I know of) met an incel so I can only go by the things I read online. It seems to me they have a negative opinion of feminism, racial equality, and progressive-socialism. They've been told the reason they're not wealthy, popular, and happy is because of those things. So they imagine a distorted mirror world that would put them at the top.

Its fairly typical during the early stages of societal collapse to blame the first victims. Obviously the cultural-wide problem of declining standards of living must be solely the fault of the first victims or their families not trying hard enough. The whole point of the situation is "have a live" was quite achievable to everyone just a generation or two ago. As the decline continues, societal expectations will eventually change to match and the problem and bullying of the victims will disappear naturally, so in a sense its not really a problem.

The victims are likely to get blamed for economic problems such as demand destruction. If an economy for 100M people requires 100M "great jobs" spenders but only has 95M "great jobs" available, those 5M kicked out of society are going to have trouble keeping the consumer economy running. Resulting in economic contraction to a 95M person-sized economy for a 100M nation only having maybe 90M "good jobs" rinse and repeat until collapse.

> Its fairly typical during the early stages of societal collapse to blame the first victims.

Interesting statement. What previous societal collapses can you cite to back up that claim?

Seriously? You first. Find me a counterexample in history, of the decline of a civilization, which resulted in BETTER treatment of minorities, outgroups, or weak sub populations.

I hate to Godwin the discussion but as a trivial example I don't think the Jews got gassed in Germany because the economy was too strong and Weimar was too politically stable. Generally you don't want to be part of a small outgroup during a societal collapse, the masses will demand somebody gotta be burned at the stake and its not going to be the popular group.

i don’t think he was doubting you, he was asking for evidence of your seemingly insightful claim.

Your points don’t seem to be aligned though. Minorities suffering is not the same as blaming the first coincidental victims of economic downturn.

I think it's more that during a downturn the powerful find ways to make some victims blame other victims but not the powerful who are doing quite well. Just look at the latest political developments. Workers think that immigrants are the source of their declining job prospects instead of questioning why the upper x percent take an increasing share of economic output for themselves and even give themselves tax cuts.

Cool, I get what you're saying, and that is a valid point that there will be cultural variation in the level of "somebody must pay for this" for bad situations.

The Great Depression in West Virginia seemed rather wholesome and pleasant as portrayed by "The Waltons", so rivers of guillotine blood in the French Revolution are not a guaranteed outcome. The whole point of this problem being that kids won't have jobs, friends, spouses, houses, and kids, means a happy "The Waltons" outcome is unrealistic to expect, however. If the whole point of the problem, is the opiate of the masses has been taken from some of them, its gonna be a bad one.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact