Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Windows: car as Facebook accessory and aid to narcissism

"The alienation of children, the almost catatonic state of family relations, the retreat into private worlds -- these phenomena are all written about in the Japanese press almost daily. The word for young people who resist all communication except with their laptops, or who become monomaniacally obsessed with a (usually electronic) game or some abstruse hobby, is otaku. An entire culture has evolved around otaku, in the visual arts, but also in the most popular form of fiction writing, stories of teenage self-obsession distributed through mobile phones. Text messaging is the favored form of communication among young Japanese. You see groups of friends sitting around coffee shop tables, each thumbing his or her own phone.

"Another popular otaku pastime, which has sublimated (and sometimes not so sublimated) erotic overtones, is costume play, or cosplay in Japanese-English. Young girls and boys dress up as characters from their favorite manga and get together to pose for pictures, taken on their mobile phones. As with manga, adults have shown a not always wholesome interest in this too."

 -- Ian Buruma, "Escape in Japan" (New York Review of Books 11 June 2009: 33-35) 34.