Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hikikomori – the new fad

By - Mridula Chaudhari

Japan is one of the most developed nations across the world. Tourists throng Tokyo and are overawed at the progress that Japan has made in all areas. Technology is used liberally which has made life of its people much easier than ours. Their public transport is said to be remarkable. Their subway and train systems are convenient and accurate which makes moving around easy and comfortable. To make the long story short, Japan is a land of abundance, a man made marvel.

But behind this razzmatazz there lies a sad story too. According to a survey released by the Government, more than half a million young boys and girls have shunned society and chosen to live isolated lives. This phenomenon is said to be called as ‘hikikomori’ by the Japanese Government. A person is said to be ridden with hikikomori if he or she has chosen to live in isolation for six months or more without going to school, work or venturing out to socialize.

The interesting element about hikikomori is that it is not caused by sheer laziness, as one would feel. The main reason is stated to be unable to succeed in life or in career. Now this is a serious matter. Competition is fierce in all areas and without that there is no urge to move ahead. This very need to be on the top must have made Japan so technically savvy and much more ahead of us. They say India will need at least 50-60 years to catch up with Japan and its technological advancement. Though that may be true, we at least do not have to fight with such a situation pertaining to hikikomori.

India’s social structure is so strong that even an aunt, a friend, a didi or a dada will never let our children get into the skin of hikikomori. The family pressures may drive a young boy to work hard, to do well but he will not stay indoors for as many as six months just because he ‘doesn’t feel like going to school’.

The demographics show that people affected by hikikomori are from middle class families and in the age group of 15 to 39, with men being more affected than women who face huge pressures to succeed early in life in school and in jobs as well. I am happy that we have understanding parents who care more about the wellbeing of their children than their careers.

Though this kind of social reclusion is not restricted to Japan, other nations who show this style of behavior, though not in high numbers are US, China and Spain among other nations. India does not even feature in the list. But if our education system and other related issues are not sorted out early, we can expect our best brains to be cooling their heels at home with a video game or a comic in their hands.

Let this only be a sounding board to all of us and vow to safeguard our children from getting into something like this!!