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By bluemist on November 6th, 2007

I found it, the meaning of life.

I put it together and this is what I found.

– Japan is the primary advancer of technology.
– Advancement of technology means easier and increased communication.
– Increased communication capability causes information overload due to ease of access.
– With information overload, it is easy enough to get any kind of entertainment you want, legal or otherwise.
– Because you can get anything you want, you also get anything you don’t want, causing overload on yourself.
– Some people can’t handle the overload, or handles it too much to care about society, and social misfits are born.

Ergo: Japan is planning another World War, slowly taking over the world in an indirect way. Someday half the world will be made up of losers who don’t care about life, and shortly thereafter, that half will slowly die out, making it the worst genocide in human history.

Haha, that’s a joke, but I think this is one way to view things. It doesn’t necessarily come from Japan, but really, the way the world works today is more of a battle against ourselves caused by our own advances. You can view a lot of society’s problems from many angles, but for now I can focus on just one, which is how the world is shrinking, yet ironically we are slowly being disconnected from it.

If you are as old as me, I think you can still remember your childhood days without the internet, or without cellphones. Life was simple. Our friends are next-door, and basically our life is within the community we live in. Whatever we have on TV, everybody in the neighborhood watches it too. We all know each other’s wired telephone numbers. The newspaper is an early morning habit. We go to school and meet more friends. Generally, when we grow up, our reach becomes bigger when we move on further, but not too big to overwhelm us. Our mind has enough to remember thousands of names of family and friends, and millions of memories related to everything we ever experienced in life. I think this is how our parents, and their parents lived.

But because of increased technology leading to increased ease of communication, we suddenly have information overload. Life is complex. Our friends didn’t need to be next-door, heck they can live in the opposite side of earth for all we care. Our community became Web 2.0 friendsters and myspacers. Whatever we have on TV, we weren’t satisfied so we turn to torrents and even import DVDs from cultures we don’t even belong in. Your neighbor probably wouldn’t even know what the hell is that Clannad cartoon show you are watching. Some of us don’t even have wires on their phones anymore, and thus you can be reached anytime anywhere even if you are in the CR or something. Newspapers become obsolete in favor of internet news from 100000 sources. Some even don’t go to real schools and use their internet PCs for distance learning. When we grow up, we probably already know so much about the world that it is really enough to overwhelm us. With all the competitiveness in this money-driven world, you are required to remember tens of thousands of names now, and billions of memories just to stay current, viable, and profitable. This is how we live.

Some of the things I mentioned are not necessarily bad, it’s just that it will slowly consume us when some of us realize that we are not going in the right direction. It has a lot of funny ironies. Let me give a fairly simple example. Mobile entertainment. We have the ipods and gameboys and the laptops to idle the time away when you are waiting for some appointment or commuting. Weirdly enough, the moment you plug your earphones, in a way you are alienating yourself from society. Sounds kinda over-the-top right? But think about it, it’s like you’re isolating yourself enough to make you not care. The noise outside starts to annoy you. Some time later, you are dependent on that earphone or game of yours to cancel out the noise… making you incapable of socializing with strangers on the street… much even more your ‘friends’. I hate people who don’t listen to me and just put on their ipods and do everything else when I talk to them. It is as if they lost the interest or will to talk.

Another example, cellphones. Sometimes the pen is not mightier than the sword, especially when you want to convey your real emotions in an effective way. In a way, this blogging itself is a sad side-effect of a society now infested with all text and no faces. How would you know how the other person really feels if you don’t see the face… or even hear out the voice related to the sentences the person wants to convey to you? Sad examples include relationships broken and even made through SMS. Confessing love through IM (look who’s talking). How would you know the real score, if you are far away, not being able to make the effort of going in this alien world they call outside and interact with people straight in the face? People will say “but, but” on every situation that is “mendoukusai/kattari” (too much trouble), making excuses to just sit back home typing your messages away… even on delicate situations such as work, life, or love.

I wouldn’t even wanna look at Web 2.0, but it’s inevitable. It’s the biggest fucking shit ever created, and it deserves these rare curse words rarely before seen on this blog. What’s the point of having so many friends in your social networking? It’s just e-penis, and while it has its advantages of hooking up to old friends you probably missed… well that’s just the only damn advantage there is. The next step is supposed to be meeting your missed friend and go out watch a movie together or something, not bad… but HELL NO, you prefer to stay home and scan the social networks for even more friends you may not care about. Slowly these social websites become breeding grounds for emo freaks and losers who proclaim their losage all around the internet, pretending or thinking that someone might care. People rarely care, and that’s what the divide in communication is about. We lose care when we don’t experience it often, or face to face.

Now let’s look at entertainment and information. Look at the overload, again how can you relate to other people if you don’t know, or don’t wanna know, what they are about? There’s so much out there right now, people are starting to form very specific niches to the point that everyone is an individual now. Sure, individuality, never a bad thing, but when taken to the extreme, devastating. Very simple instance, I’m an anime fan. How would a basketball fan ever relate to me, and me relate to him/her? There is a middle ground, where you show limited interest. You join your basketball fan friend in watching exciting NBA games. You show Naruto to your friend, and he/she seems a bit interested. Harmonious relationship isn’t it? Problem is, that middle ground can fade. Some people will bend to the extreme and NOT CARE about everything else. Sure, I now eat all the anime eroge game visual culture I want… until you yourself are consumed. Fuck will I care about basketball fans and their obsession over bball players. Ah, so I lost a friend now.

There is a Darwinian angle in this, because some people are decent and intelligent enough to handle the pressures of modern life. I would particularly admire my fellow bloggers, some of which I only know through the limited world of text itself through chats, and I imagine they live great lives, have a decent job or school standing, good people-relationships and generally happy. I hope that is really the case, because again we only talk through text, and we don’t even see the real faces behind the handles and avatars. I would also admire the people around me, as I live in thankfully a decent society. I consider myself a lower working middle class able to sustain myself while enjoying even just a bit of luxury. Sure there are struggles but generally people are there as secondary support. If it were not for my parents I would have lost my way into either being a spoiled brat or a rebel. If it were not for my friends I would be socially lost and alone. I say they are secondary support because the bulk of the effort still has to come from me. Sadly, there are communities around the world who succumb to helplessness not being able to sustain and maintain decency. There are many reasons, poverty, irresponsible parenting, politics, racism, discrimination between social classes, and overpopulation being some. I may be harsh in pointing my finger at the losers and urge them to get a life, but they are either helpless or self-sufficient enough to keep losing. Interesting social truth.

This paragraph was supposed to be the solution and conclusion paragraph, but I suddenly have a loss of words to say. I don’t even want to pretend to know a solution, or even conclude. I am not a social climber, as it is I am also a victim of this. We are all victims. All I can do now is sit back, relax, and hope that everything I’m doing in my life can lead to something right. Well then, let me go back to watching some weird anime you don’t know then? I’m not your friend after all.


Posted By: suguru On: November 06, 2007 At: 11:54 am

Interesting post…although blaming technology doesn’t seem right, since social outcasts existed long before the internet. Even back in the 80s, people could turn on their Walkman and shut out the world, or play board games alone in a dark room versus go outside and play with their friends.

Technology is funny though…I saw an ad on TV the other day for a toy for kids 3-5 years old that basically gets them to exercise by pedaling on a stationary bike, which translates their effort to moving their avatar on an onscreen game. Maybe that’s a sign of the times–instead of just getting on your bike and going for a ride around the block, you never leave your house and can pedal in front of the TV. Is this a bad thing? I have to think it is, but then again, I’d never seen the internet until after I graduated from college, so maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Clearly, kids today still interact face-to-face plenty in school, it’s just now they have a thousand more ways to keep in touch outside of school than I did when I was a kid–Facebook, IM, text messages, the whole nine yards. I’ve never visited Facebook and their ilk, and only use instant messenger at work, so I’m probably just too old to “get it”. Technology does create entertainment niches, but I’m very glad for that, since it makes discussing and viewing anime far easier than the bad old VHS days.

Posted By: meganeshounen On: November 06, 2007 At: 1:03 pm

Wow. Your post suddenly reminded me of my childhood. ^^;
Simply wasting my days playing around with my childhood friends and running around in the nearby ricefields…

Ever since the Internet boom a few years ago, I’ve always wondered why people (especially teens) use social networks like Friendster and the like… I mean, they don’t even gain anything material from it. Heck, I even went as far as to ask people about their reason for using such services. Their answers were varied… from a simple “oh, I just didn’t have anything else to do” to “I want to stay connected to my friends”. I can readily accept the latter, but I can’t help to think “e-p0n0r” about the former.

Then again, I certainly can’t say that the steadily increasing Internet boom was bad, since I wouldn’t even be typing on this very keyboard if it weren’t for that. I simply resigned myself to thinking that their love of maintaining their (extensively wierd and badly modified) Friendster accounts is the same to that of our love of anime. They’re in it for the kicks. We… well, we have different reasons, I’m sure.

Posted By: Moonlight Bomber On: November 07, 2007 At: 7:53 am

Well, I’m no Friendster user.

And speaking of forgotten friends due to your hobby… Even though I devote enough time to my hobbies (becuase of joblessness and financial constraints), I still keep touch with my high school friends. We even recently gathered when our former high school music teacher passed away.

The key phrase that bluemist wants to emphasize is self-control and regulation. Strive yourself not to get consumed in information oveload, and you will be fine.

Posted By: DaFool On: November 09, 2007 At: 3:48 am

It’s kinda hard in my case, since I grew up in many countries.

Although I’m glad of my childhood in Singapore, playing in wide open fields with neighborhood boys. I just visited the old neighborhood recently and boy has that place been paved over! It’s like remembering a nice Slice-of-Life anime and then visiting the real life counterpart and the place doesn’t exist anymore.

I’m now out of touch from my American high school and college classmates. I was in high school when the internet started, and college when cellphones became popular. But still, back then the internet was a BROADCAST medium from companies to consumers — there weren’t peer-to-peer blogging yet, so its impact was like TV, very minimal. Only a few dudes had cellphones and we still met up using landlines.

Apart from being halfway around the world now, I used to work in a call center, and right now I am still working in outsourcing industry. I guess the hikikomori lifestyle goes along with your expertise. If you notice, many bloggers out there are in the IT / computers / web industries. Same with anime people, especially those who watch fansubs. It’s not that we don’t have a life, it’s that our “work” and our “play” are both convenient — both spent in front of a computer monitor.

In fact, its ironic how close I am to being a full on hikikomori (except that I have a job, so I’m not a NEET. I do nothing but watch 3 anime eps then sleep when I get home, though.) I shop at Japan Home, and I eat regularly at Ministop, a Japanese convenience store. Too bad they don’t have onigiri!

My income is pretty pathetic for my qualifications, I’m just lucky that my family is wealthy enough and so we’re building a house — guess what? It’s in Japanese style, just like what you see in anime. When it’s done, the only think left would be to scour for a personal maid android ala Chi or May and then my (hikikomori) life would be complete.

I do realize I need to get out more, but I’m like a foreigner in my own country now, with my face-to-face friends halfway around the world. Even my old call center buddies are now in Australia. So I think you can’t just blame oneself but blame that opportunities can send people off to opposite ends of the world at a moment’s notice.

Posted By: Rooked On: November 11, 2007 At: 6:14 pm

You sound like you’re lost in life haha.

It is ironic at how advanced communication has become for the “gobal village” while the majority of people these days feel so much more isolated.

Could it be that the majority of us are lack something to band us together with peace (Excluding the middle east)?

We’re living to be happy instead of happy to be living.