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Pictures reveal the isolated lives of Japan’s social recluses (2018) (nationalgeographic.com)
78 points by altStoner 67 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 80 comments

I’m glad the article mostly restrains itself from the “wacky Japan” angle, and states pretty flat out that a “rental sister” is pretty analogous to the role of a social worker.

It’s weird that people marvel over “host” and “hostess” clubs in Japan, when I know of many restaurants in the US and Canada, where the main draw is that a pretty girl/guy will be nice to you for your time there. Is it the exact same thing? No. But it’s clearly serving the same niche.

The difference seems to be that in Japan, the exchange of social services (in the broadest sense) are pretty direct and straightforward. In the west, there’s a taboo about paying for social benefits, so people have to pretend they actually want to spend $20 on a crappy burger that happens to be served by an attractive woman.


My theory is that we go through this little dance because we can’t stand to admit that there’s anything structurally wrong with our society. If people feel lonely, or unsupported by their community, then well, it just means they’re broken, and should go through years of expensive and intensive therapy. Otherwise, just deal with it and get back to work.

I’m not saying we all need to join communes or anything, but explicit recognition of the problem at hand would go a long way I think.

PS. I’m pretty sure the reason I’m thinking about this is because I watched the WeWork documentary yesterday. It seems like Neumann capitalized on using rhetoric about this very issue. He talks a lot about how people seem disconnected and disinterested in their surrounding community. A lot of people probably felt that message resonate pretty strongly with them. The problem was that he was trying to solve it with... new office divisions. Which is pretty fucking irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But my feeling is that a lot of people bought in because they liked that message.

>In the west, there’s a taboo about paying for social benefits

western internet culture may be changing this taboo, mainly thinking of twitch, onlyfans etc. the internet "simp" phenomenon. its still degenerate but not quite "taboo"


"Hooters lists their waitresses as models. By those means, they are permitted to hire and fire based on looks and gender."

Brief photo theory interlude: beware of rhetoric about photographs "revealing" or "exploring" things. These photographs are telling a story, and have all the subjectivities and editing that we take for granted in written works. They are not empirical evidence, they are works made to represent and persuade.

When you see something framed this way, proceed skeptically!

“Let’s face it. What do you know from a photograph? They don’t have narrative ability. You talk about a cow jumping, you don’t know if it’s going up or down from the picture.” - Garry Winogrand

Not implying that I agree, but through a very reductionist lens from one of the medium's greats, photographs are nothing more than light on a flat medium. Whatever meaning we imbue is an interpretation.

Probably a good idea to be skeptical of everything you read. But often that’s not possible.

Must be a conspiracy.

This has Big Hikikomori written all over it.

"According to him, he is a great man and could do extraordinary things, but he does not always try his best"

This is right here probably a major explanation for the whole phenomena. I have seen this exact attitude with individuals who are in their 30s and living with their parents. Something in their upbringing gave them this immense sense of worth but the world isn't rewarding them for the little work they do as much as they think it's worth.

So, since their whole worldview cannot be reconciled with how they are treated outside their family, it makes sense to retreat to that very same safe place as before.

He is right he could do extraordinary things, but first he needs to work hard to get there.

Not to completely deny your point, but we should be much more careful: in my opinion, a big part of mental illness stigma comes from the inability of society to see a culprit, and instead let the individual become the culprit. We are very biased to rationalize stuff. If we don't see an abusive family, economic problems, obvious disabilities, etc, we tend to rationalize something else and not admit that maybe there are psychological barriers and obstacles that are disabling a person. Being in social isolation is not easier than working hard. It's a complicated problem.

I personally believe the best attitude is to accept that if someone can't get out of a certain situation by themselves, they need help. No additional judgement required. Now, who you want to help or whether you want to help someone is your choice, as we often already have enough trouble in our own lives to also go helping others. That's ok. But anything else is trying to rationalize who needs more help, when we are always lacking context and perspective.

> I personally believe the best attitude is to accept that if someone can't get out of a certain situation by themselves, they need help. No additional judgement required.

This is so true, and it’s so hard to fight our own prejudice. Seeing loved ones in bad mental states is hard, and as individuals and as society we don’t really know what to do to help, so it’s easier to blame them for being there and makes us feel bad, than to confront ourselves and be good companions, even if there is not much we can do to help.

This is right here probably a major explanation for the whole phenomena. I have seen this exact attitude with individuals who are in their 30s and living with their parents. Something in their upbringing gave them this immense sense of worth but the world isn't rewarding them for the little work they do as much as they think it's worth.

This is extremely presumptive and dismissive. Also living with your parents isn't necessary an indicator of a social reclusve.

> living with your parents isn't necessary an indicator of a social reclusve

Assuming you mean living with your parents in their house, it pretty much is. It's different if you have an elderly parent living with you in your house.

Anyone in his 30s and living with his parents is going to have constrained social opportunities unless he's some kind of royalty.

It's not uncommon for people to live with parents when they can so that they can save enough money for their future.

By the time my cousin got married, he was in his 30s and had lived at home all his life. He bought a condo immediately with his savings for him and his wife to move into.

My best friend lived at home until he paid off his student loans after which he saved enough for a down payment for a condo.

My other friend lived at home till her 30s, when she got married and moved in with her husband.

My other best friend is living at an apartment with his parents, and has a steady girlfriend as well as thriving businesses.

For some people I don't doubt living at home with your parents would be awful for development, but there's so many ways to live life that I would never generalize the outcomes without fully considering the circumstances.

This is a remarkably American perspective to the issue and may not reflect other countries’ experiences and results, at all.

Assuming you mean living with your parents in their house, it pretty much is. It's different if you have an elderly parent living with you in your house.

Anyone in his 30s and living with his parents is going to have constrained social opportunities unless he's some kind of royalty.

If you earn money, then you're independent enough. That's enough for me. It's a bit embarrassing to admit that you live with your parents, but ultimately so what?

Clearly you need you need expand your horizon and explore other cultures.

I am not referring to everyone who lives at home with parents, nor am I saying that living at home with parents is a bad thing or an indicator of social recluse.

What I said is I've seen this "exact attitude with individuals" (as in some individuals, not all.) For example, my daughter's kindergarten teacher lives with his parents, and I have absolutely no issue with it. However, I do know someone who is well into their 30s that is living with their parents because every job they've ever had did not "treat them well enough", in many cases they lasted less than a week, and their parents continue to allow them to basically get away with not working.

This has been my same experience for what it's worth. Folks whose parents told them they hung the moon who won't accept a living wage for a hard day's work. Not bad people at all for the most part. But they think their entry-level skills should earn $35+/hour.

Worse yet, I work with a handful of guys who are making $22-28/hour to do a $20/hour job and they can't stop complaining about how boring and repetitive it is. For most of them, they went to trade school and have no idea how good they have it at this company.

If I'm not getting paid what I'm worth, I move on. If I can't find someone to pay me what I think I'm worth, I reevaluate my skillset. If no one is willing to pay you what you think you're worth, you're probably not worth that. And if a job is paying you more than the going rate for your skill, you shut up and do a damn good job.

And, finally, maybe it's how I was raised, but whatever I'm doing - whether it's beneath me or doesn't pay shit - I do a damn good job, because if I'm going to do something, I do it right.

You said it's a major explanation of the phenomena, based on your anecdotal experience.

I M theorizing it is an explanation of the phenomena of hikikomori and similar phenomena.

I think it's untreated underage burnout.

The imagined authority and declared lack of execution both allow him to reject expectations from others thereby taking out uncertainties. Absolutely in no offense, the last line of your comment is not an unpredictable response and also emotionally not aggressive, which I suspect is what he is expecting from people around. People in the state of burnout also won't work hard, because the soul is already spent from having previously done so. They don't seem to try to meet or exceed expectations despite looking mostly healthy, though they might think they're capable of or remember themselves to be.

Japanese education for a child in upper middle class during 2000s was horrible. It was essentially a 12 hours a day double work starting 10-12 years old that ends at university entry exam. That creates basis for excessive overtime and workaholism culture that will burn out some graduates within first three years of work if they had not already. Perhaps if they do and declines to be mourned early they'll end up here.

I noticed this too, because it seemed to be a common theme for many of the men, and also, pretty relatable. Who doesn't think of themselves as capable of "extraordinary things"?

If they could recontextualize failure as adversity: a key part of learning, and making progress, the failure could build resilience instead of compounding to a point where they feel like they are better off giving up and isolating.

Old farts always assume what we ask for is illegitimate.

I remember a “HR Collective Negotiation” teacher in my masters (one of the top schools of France). He said “When you need to fire 193 people, don’t ask for 400 to come back to 200. Ask for 193 and negotiate until you get it.”

I’ve always applied this rule in my life. (Socially it doesn’t work at all, but I do it because I’d like to see a world that works on sincere values).

So I never demanded anything from my father up to the point I needed him. At 35 years old I told him modern women were unmanageable and my life was turning sour, and I needed help, I needed people to understand that men are being mistreated by the system, but I said it with ample documentation (you could watch the excellent movie The Red Pill, which depicts pretty much the complexity of our position), and that the only answer of society towards us is “Incel”. By the time I asked my father, I had already created some networks through politicians, but on the topic that interests me, all still had the same dismissive position, because promoting men doesn’t work politically. I’m saying that so you don’t say that I hadn’t walked my walk.

So apparently I’m able to make about 3 million dollars, between one startup which IPO’ed and my own company which has 6 employees. But I’m still not good enough for women, and worthy of being treated as the scum of the earth.

So I asked my father whether at least in my family, the upsides of men could be acknowledged, and if in addition to admiring my sister’s climb of Everest, we could acknowledge that we could give men the same kind of help for finding affection as we give women at work. I gave specific examples and came back on several angles. My father refused to respond to my demand, treating me as a spoilt brat every single time.

I do not see, when one has already contributed to society more than his father’s entire life of taxes (along with thousands of hours of volunteering, don’t assume I’m only talking in money, it’s just a symbolic result), what gives society the right to treat us as a tax slave and never give us love in return. I’ve always tried to be the kindest of all, but that’s also a receipe to be stepped upon, which seems to be an attitude that we think is totally ok for women.

There aren’t many ways besides violence to be heard by people who refuse to hear us. I’ve already tried words! And more importantly for me: I’ve already tried taking positive action.

Remains violence.

Just saying.

You're threatening violence. And what then. Do you intend to take love by force, Laurent92?

Blaming old farts. Well, I'm younger than you, but you still will not hear, from anyone, that what you're asking is far beyond "illegitimate", will you?

What is someone to do after hearing you?

> what you're asking is far beyond "illegitimate"

Wanting to be acknowledged is illegitimate? Because that's really all I read from that. Being acknowledged not even for one's self, but at least for what one does or has done.

The comment of laurent92 doesn't read as if he needs acknowledgement.

It reads like he thinks he's done enough "good" or has enough "accomplishments" in his head that he is definitely owed affection from women now, because clearly he's good enough as he is now. While also "refusing to budge" on the amount of what he's owed.

And I also read an anger at the inability to receive what he's owed, and some violence angle on top of that.

(Sorry, at this point this turned into a reply to Laurent92 themselves.)

That's not how it works, however, - you don't take what you're owed in a personal relationship (if you want it to be good and long lasting, anyway), and you don't treat the other person like they have to give you what you're owed. You're not against your partner.

However bad you think men have it today, women have it worse, and had for a long time. It's really only fair for the pendulum to swing another direction till everything settles in a good fair balance.

And that balance will look like people from different social groups working together, understanding each other, instead of taking what they're owed from each other.

What you need to do is look at your partner as you look at yourself because they are a person, too, not a device that gives you your reward.

He mentions his father that praises his sister's climb of Mt. Everest (whether figuratively or not), but does not acknowledge his achievements, even when they far surpass his peers'. I don't think that's unreasonable at all.

I totally agree with you that he's not owed anything from anyone, but I assume that we'd split about whether he owes anyone anything (e.g. taxes).

> However bad you think men have it today, women have it worse

In Saudi-Arabia? 100% agree. In France, Denmark, Germany or Sweden? No.

I think you're focusing far too much on the partner-angle. That's likely a part of it, but it sounds like an (especially painful) rejection in a long line of rejections.

I've witnessed that in multiple young men where they do achieve extraordinary things, but aren't part of the world elite in whatever they do, and they don't get the recognition they feel they deserve (usually rightfully so, imho). At the same time, a woman does something of much lesser difficulty and drowns in praise and opportunity (look up Aja Jaff for an example in Germany). Most of the men experiencing that get bitter and eventually become destructive.

It's easy to fix, but the whole "women have it worse, everywhere, always" shtick does get in the way. It doesn't hold up to reality either.

Maybe? Seems like that's assuming a lot about a person's life.

>immense sense of worth

Not necessarily sense of worth, I would argue. I doubt that it's the first time in history when parents told their children that they are very beautiful and smart, much better than anyone else.

IMHO cushion of enough wealth to allow a lifestyle of "prefer not to" combined with lowered expectations of the life is a total destroyer. Many people in developed countries can choose not to face the difficulties of the life and be entertained and fed through their adulthood.

If it's hard for you to face rejection or go through social situation there's enough infrastructure to let you live your life in a room. You may or may not have income if you don't have to pay rent, staying alive is extremely cheap so your parents can take care of you with almost no impact on their budget. You can also do some remote work that requires only tech literacy.

I myself had periods of "going back to parents home" when I was feeling "No expectations form my life but not interested in dying". What worked for me was forcing myself out of my comfort zone through changing cities/countries with no enough fund to sustain that kind of lifestyle.

It worked well for me 3 times so far. The state of "living in your room" is easy thanks to the internet, I don't remember getting bored because my schedule was always full with "projects", TV series, games and online discussions(forums->facebook->Digg->reddit). You notice the toll on your body and you disconnect at some point when your peers move on with their phase in their lives.

I'm not exactly an introvert(I simply need time alone too), I actually enjoy the company of people and what works for me is re-inventing myself somewhere else and meet completely new people. That's the phase I feel alive instead of content, suddenly I feel like I have a purpose(because I actually do have a purpose. I'm doing rebuild from scratch and there's plenty of stuff to do). At some point the things stabilize and I start feeling like disconnecting from the society for a while.

I just wonder why these other people don't seem to break their stay in the room period. The world is full of opportunities and it's actually very friendly place overall. The flaming extraverts are cool too.

I have a hypothesis for this too. One thing I noticed about my "live in the room phase" peers is that they tend to deny observations, they are extremist in their lifestyles and fight to the bitter end any evidence that another way of life is possible and it's within their reach. They are extremely cynical towards the outside world. I think this is required because, to maintain inaction you need to have a gap between what's possible and what you can do. If you accept that the world is full of opportunities, the only way to have a gap preventing you from picking these opportunities is to have low abilities. So yes, it does have a component of self worth.

I agree fully with your addendum to my comment.

> Something in their upbringing gave them this immense sense of worth

Is there an abundance of this in Japanese culture that I wasn't aware of?

Probably just an abundance of this in humans in general?

A lovely John Steinbeck paraphrase/misquote from another thread:

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

We live in an age of underappreciated princes with no fiefdoms.

The basic needs of a man until his late 30s are quite straightforward. If there is no chance for sex, and professional endeavours deliver more stress than anything else, then why bother with the rest? Saying this from completely different perspective - of a native citizen of less developed EU country, the pandemic measures and shutdowns almost haven't changed my lifestyle.

If those are the only things that makes someone happy (it's not necessarily; all people are different, but let's say those are the basic needs at work here), and they aren't getting either of those things, then they can either give up become shut-ins and stay on that trajectory, or they can do everything they can to figure out how become the kind of person they want to be, or at least become a happier or wiser person. Those are the options, perpetually keep trying to become a better version of one's self more capable of happiness (and maybe failing, and probably having some miserable experiences on the way), or give up (and definitely fail, 100% of the time, right out of the gate). Or suicide I guess, but giving up is basically suicide with an exceptionally long and pointless epilogue.

Once somebody gives up, from that point on they are no longer victims but the cause of their own problems. It sucks and it's not fair, but adult life can really suck and is definitely not fair. We only get one shot at it so might as well go out trying to do best we can.

Saying someone is responsible for themselves really doesn't help them. It's like telling a depressed person that they should be happy.

They need help. Because in the end, we're all interdependent and dependent on each other.

I had to tell myself that I am the hero or villain of my own story after some help. Still, it's an absolutely painful journey sometime.

The article's description of cultural pressures on young men seems crushing. One must work obscene hours, never lose face, represent the family at all times, and support a family on one salary.

Most men are happiest when they are working hard and supporting their family. I'm not sure why this is seen as crushing pressure.

Japanese culture is not American or European culture. Salarymen, black companies, and such are much more common (even expected) in Japan.

{{citation needed}}

That sounds like "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps". Am I correct to assume that you've never really gone through something like that? Maybe a deep, multi-year depression that leaves you unable to do even the most mundane things? It does kind of sound like it, but like everyone in front of the TV during a game, you have the best advice for those who're in it.

> Once somebody gives up, from that point on they are no longer victims but the cause of their own problems.

If one person gives up, it is his person. If millions of people give up, it is society's problem.

Archive link: https://archive.is/P8Ym2

There is a nag that tries to force you to enter your e-mail mid-way down the page.

I fed it a Mailinator address and it was happy to let me keep reading.

Reader mode gets around it.

you can also use uBlock Origin to zap the elements.

Can you get it to successfully work on this page?

Zapping elements gets rid of the pop-up, but also makes scrolling impossible.

Yes I was able to get it to successfully work, you just have to keep zapping elements until the page displays properly. This also works on instagram if you're viewing without an account, though they seem to shadowban ip's now as I can't view accounts until after a few days.

Could you please paste your custom filter rules for it?

I tried the keep-zapping approach, and eventually got rid of the pop-ups, but then was unable to actually scroll through the page and read the article.

nationalgeographic.com##html:style(height:100%!important;overflow:scroll!important;position: static !important)

nationalgeographic.com##body:style(height:100%!important;overflow:scroll!important;position: static !important)

I added this to my custom filter list, and it did not get rid of the sign-up pop-up.

You can use the zapper tool for that

Like I said in this thread, I tried and could not get it working. I am curious how other people got it working, since we are using the same tool and seeing the same webpage.

It's a bit interesting that people see this as something that needs "fixing".

Is it because it's a psychological disorder? Is it because the parents don't want the financial burden?

The pandemic has certainly recently shown me the upsides of withdrawing totally from society. It's not for me (I'm antisocial, not asocial) but I can see why some would prefer it.

Up until approximately 100-200 years ago (99.999% of humanity’s existence) it was a possibility in most of the world to retreat into complete wilderness and live as a hermit. Now there’s nowhere left to go. We have wilderness but it is owned. We have recluses but they have SSNs and tax burdens and fingerprints. A person who becomes detached from society is put in a mental institution. The result is a kind of cultural fascism/authoritarianism. You MUST live in society, and there is only realistically one to choose from. What an incredibly unprecedented global experiment!

It seems to me that for some the only winning move is not to play.

EDIT: and as I understand it Japan’s culture is especially brutal for some personalities, although I have no first-hand experience. For all the problems we have in the US at least I can be a total wackadoo without feeling like I have failed my entire family and shamed myself and all my acquaintances in the eyes of society.

> it was a possibility in most of the world to retreat into complete wilderness and live as a hermit.

You can still f off into Canadian, Siberian, Amazonian wilderness without the government or anyone else caring about that.

Urban centers without enough green space can be incompatible with solitude 24/7. Too expensive without roommates, no where outside without other people nearby, possibly only a bathroom or small bedroom without another person in it.

Wikipedia mentions the 80/50 problem. At some point the Hikkomori will be 50, and their parents, their sole means of support, will be 80. The Hikkomori are not capable of supporting themselves and will run into trouble.

I also expect there are health effects to lifelong withdrawal from all social contact and from not leaving one’s room. We’re not meant to totally avoid touch and eye contact and movement.

Sure, but some people suffer lots of abuse in life just by the way they look or their ethnicity, sexuality, etc (black people, Jewish, LGBT, etc. in bad places like the middle east come to mind). Imagine been Jewish or very obviously gay and effeminate in Saudi Arabia.

Some time it's better to be alone that to be abused. I saw a documentary about this -Hikkomori- and that was one of the guy's point. He took a lot of sht from people first at school, then at work and on the street too because of how he looked, and he got tired of having to put up with random shtty people insulting him every single day for years. It wore him down over the years and at home he only had a mother that didn't seem to be supportive at all until he gave up. You can see it in YouTube, is one of the first results. It's sad that he could not make it work by moving around until he found decent people, but some times you just have bad luck.

> We’re not meant to totally avoid touch and eye contact and movement.

Meant by whom? Perhaps you aren't, but to make that claim for others is to fundamentally deny them their agency, as if they are mentally incompetent. I don't think these people are, for the most part, mentally incompetent.

Solitary confinement is widely considered to be torture, and what studied of Hikkomori exist suggest they have more suicidal thoughts and psychiatric disorders than the average.

The former suggests need for social contact is in our genes. There is a reason monks had monasteries for their life of withdrawal: they still had others around.

There are rare exceptions, the eremetic monks, but overall Hikkomori do not seem content. They are perhaps more comfortable than they felt out in the world, but I strongly suspect they are in a local maximum and could live much more satisfying lives.

I believe there’s research in the social sciences that show that social contact and connections have a very positive impact on people’s health.

Of course, such studies measure the average so each individual’s situation may be different. But it’s also not clear to me why it would be different for such large of a group.

I've always wondered if you were a recluse but had an excellent diet/fitness routine that the social contact benefits for health would not matter anymore. It's actually the best possible scenario for getting extremely fit because you don't have a job or social obligations.

Yeah you have all the time to sleep well, prepare food and eat healthy, hydrate, stretch and excercise, work on any stimulating however trivial personal projects. What you leave behind is the stress coming from a job, miserable dates and rejections, and any stress related health problems which later on one is desperately tring to resolve with doctors and medical procedures.

> "I've always wondered if you were a recluse but had an excellent diet/fitness routine that the social contact benefits for health would not matter anymore."

Solitary confinement in prisons is known to be detrimental to mental health so that seems most likely to be false.

That's not something the inmates choose though, they're being forced to be in solitary confinement.

Studies might not be ideal here. How many hermits participate in social studies run at universities?

Yea, I don't see the problem with it unless the person who is doing it wants to change but can't. These type of people has always existed, they used to be secluded at a monastery and then it was socially acceptable for them to be isolated all of their lives doing little or nothing, reading and "praying" and "meditating" all day.

How is it much better to slave away at a minimal wage job at a McDonald's or a desk job shuffling papers for 40 years surrounded by people that treat you like shit? (service workers have horror stories to tell about bosses and customers alike).

> These type of people has always existed, they used to be secluded at a monastery and then it was socially acceptable for them to be isolated all of their lives doing little or nothing, reading and "praying" and "meditating" all day.

Monks are not idle.

Monastic life involves significant amounts of manual labor and service work. There is no comparison.

People with social anxiety might retreat to their home to feel safe, but that's not the same as it being healthy nor the best option for them.

You might be antisocial, but at least one of the guys in TFA talks of overwhelming shame. It's arguably (perceived or not) external reasons for this self-solitude, possibly a matter of heteronomy rather than autonomy.

Of course it's a societal issue.

Getting these individuals help might just be treating the symptoms, however, if the cause turns out to be a cultural phenomenon. It might require targeted political effort to properly frame and address the real problems.

They contribute to dearth of social participation, declining population, and I'd reckon are a net drain on the country's productivity.

They're symptomatic of something gone very wrong. Withdrawing from the world for a prolonged period shouldn't be so appealing that an entire social class develops around doing so.

Not to say I don't sympathize, ofc.

The problem does seem somewhat overstated though. Wikipedia says ~400,000 people in a population of 125 million.

> Is it because the parents don't want the financial burden?

In the article they mention that the parents pay $8K per year or more for this service.

The parents are paying for everything. Food, housing, etc.

To me it seems like this is basically an extreme on a spectrum of people who are struggling. I have always had difficulty socializing and there were years where I lived with my parents and struggled to find an adequate job. For at least two years I had completely given up. And with my poor self-confidence and social skills, I would not often attempt to socialize then or now.

But your income is a huge aspect of your identity in this world. Without any income or a good one, it is going to be hard for anyone to be confident around other people. And with no income for an extended period, that type of shame will make you want to avoid people altogether.

Even the last several years where I have had income from online contract programming, I have basically been a hermit and rarely attempt socializing. I feel that honestly part of it is just that I don't think people are comfortable around me. But a big issue is the poor income and lack of self-confidence that comes with that.

And reinforcing this stuff are my health issues that have caused me years ago to abandon the idea of high-paid stressful jobs. I have not considered a job with a commute in many years.

I feel like what I need is an income about four to six times what seems comfortable for me to maintain. Then I can get out of this financial hole, move back to the United States, pay for good health insurance and hopefully resolve my health issue, and hold my head up high as a property owner.

I am not dependent on other people or totally isolated, but I do avoid socializing. My dream is to design, build, and manufacturer robots, so I am experimenting with computer vision.

What I do not want to do and don't think I could do even if I tried, is a hardcore 9-5 job working for someone else on projects that are a total waste of time. I would rather continue to be poor.

And I will just mention one other thing. Appearance may also factor into this sometimes. Notice that one of the men pictured has mixed blood. That bit of difference that he has could be just one more factor contributing to his isolation. For me, I am quite self-conscious and often am not even sure if my facial asymmetry is in the normal range.

This seems like a phenomenon beneath the same umbrella as the NEETs and incels of the western world. A difference, though, is that in all the presentations of hikikomori I've seen, they lack the same toxicity and anger at the outside world, even though their situation is a similar manifestation of broken confidence, extreme social anxiety, so on.

I wonder if this is true, or if there's a darker side to the hikikomori that we just don't see as much of.

Just to break it down, it seems to me that isolation is a different thing than inactivity coupled with constrained spaces.

If you watch the 'My Self Reliance' channel on youtube (and I realize the guy has a wife and older kids), the alone part doesn't seem so bad if combined with ongoing projects. Plus these are projects that have to get done.

Plus, he has a good looking Golden Retriever, no doubt better company than some of the people I know.

Another related essay by the photographer herself:


This always makes it's biyearly round.

Psyc 101 grads comment if we are lucky?

Most of the comments are not even from people associated with Japanese culture.

Article seems to be newsletter-signup-walled? On mobile safari, it won't let me read it due to the popup.

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