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I don't really know where to post this thread but here I am...

I wondering what are thoughts on the hikikomori phenomenon, i. e. people chosing to live withdrawn from society. More info here on Wikipedia..

The term comes from Japan, where the phenomenon is the most prominent, but I know there are many hikikomoris in my home country, France. Do this phenomenon exist in your place as well?

From what I've read, hikikomoris are mostly young males and chose to withdraw from society after a failure, or a bad experience at school. People tend to have a negative opinion on them, thinking they are just lazy freaks, stuck in childhood and avoiding their responsabilities etc. But to me, it's not true and this phenomenon tells us something really deep about our society and how it affects individuals.

I don't want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, but I think it would be interesting to share your hikikomori story, either your own or a relative's, in this topic.

Thank you
 

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I remember hearing about this phenomenon a few years back, and remember Japanese social workers trying to rehabilitate these young men back into society. There was a documentary on this.

I think you have a point- the problem doesn’t reside in these young men, it resides within society in itself post-modern world.

Humans are social creatures by nature, and when we have a society that values material accumulation over actual human worth and human experiences, it’s only natural that young folks with withdraw from a society that feels alienating. A world that values unfettered competition and extraction of wealth through Earth’s limited resources doesn’t foster the kind of growth productive to human evolution.

In other words, in a pro-social environment, people flourish. In an environment that breeds contempt, can these kids help it but to want to withdraw?

It’s just not in most people’s nature to be ruthless, and these younger adults’ behavior is proof of it. Life doesn’t seem promising when people feel dehumanized. The adults seem to buy into the narrative that doesn’t even suit even them.

It’s like the kids even understand the underlying inherent contradictions. What makes these adults think these kids want to practice what the adults preach when they can’t even lead by example? Life has become so depressing even for adults where they perform suicide (they even have suicide forests and resort to other ways of ending even their own lives). This is indicative of all of the lies they were told about post-modern society. It’s sort of delusional to partake in a futile effort leading to meaningless existence, so they figure they need to detach. I can see why.
 

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Have you ever watched Welcome to the NHK? It's about hikikomoris or otherwise very lonely characters (written by someone who's clearly lived with that problem) and that was the most relatable show I ever watched. (even the whole paranoid conspiracy theorist angle the main character developed was very accurate to what I felt at a certain point - not so much now).
It made me realize I had that condition and so then I was able to see things a bit more clearly.

I spend most of my time in my room. Ever since I left college nearly a decade ago it's been a lingering question of: "Okay.... now what the hell am I supposed to do? There's no where I belong in this world, and I don't want to be stuck in some dead-end job that won't even pay enough."
I think I like being in my room because I actually have some sense of control over this space. Outside I feel lost.
I feel too incompetent and clueless to live or succeed in a system I rather despise and goes against my nature. And I feel too alien for most others to connect to.


I don't know how big extreme social withdrawal is in Britain exactly but I think it's a growing problem worldwide. The sense of loneliness is high here, I can feel it (even prior to covid) as well as the burnout from a work-obsessed culture.
Apparently it could be up to over 9 million UK citizens – almost a fifth of the population – who say they are always or often lonely here, but almost two thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it.
 

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Without knowing anything much about it, and just from thinking about the socio-economic factors along with looking at the photo of the young man in the Wikipedia article...

I suspect that it's a withdrawal due to not feeling that one's values match the values of those around you.

It's human nature to thrive around people who match your values--that is where you can grow as a person. But these hikikomoris are socially isolated from the people who they could cultivate values with.

I started thinking about this more because I thought of the socio-economic influences of this--like you cannot isolate and survive if you are below a certain income without a high level of hardship. That is because we are a social species and we need each other.

But that made me think about communes--what would a hikikomori commune be like? If everyone had to take turns tending the garden and fields for food--had to help build the houses they share? And to me the only way it would work is if these people shared some values.

I think that if they did, they could find life easier and also respect each others privacy and limitations--but acknowledge the necessity of community and pitching in.

The reason why I say this is that it is generally unsustainable to live like that. You cannot provide for yourself without any help--and other people cannot provide for themselves without help either. But in a community with others, they would be able to see themselves and their role in the community, in helping produce the food, build the houses, take care of each other.

I guess to me these people seem like they are lost. They are lost from a community that reflects their values, and they are also lost from a role that they can define, with boundaries they can define, because they are necessary and useful to others.

But encouraging finding identity in one's contributions and work--being able to define that, and what is necessary, that could help. Like in a commune where people had to figure out who would be responsible for what and everyone was needed.

From my really poor understanding, Japan can be really harsh with hierarchies, and I imagine there is room for abuse. Personal abuse like that could contribute to people developing social anxiety or isolating tendencies, but also the lack of ability to define one's own contributions and feel autonomous is hard for anyone, especially young people trying to find their place.
 

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So I am really ignorant, but another thing could be overwork or just seeing loved ones and relatives overwork, it could cause anxiety about trying to contribute (work).

Especially when there are issues like dying from overwork. But I wonder if increasing exploitation of workers could also affect it.

Equality in Japan
 

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I would say that it's not the same thing as in Japan. In Japan not everyone can handle such a strong group-think and thus withdraw. It doesn't exist in many other civilizations on same level, thus hikikomori's are of different types. Also Japan already has way too many useless industries. They simply have too many services for too less consumers, thus you are unlikely to end up in actually meaningful career there. Your fate there is to work some useless job, which is barely a job at all. Sounds pointless to me. I don't see hikikomoris as something bad, unless they are completely dysfunctional and have mental problems. I feel that simply some otakus (as in meaning of person, who loves his own hobby) are labelled as hikikomoris. Another type of hikikomoris that I can understand if they seen someone knew to die of overwork, thus avoiding work like plaque. It's totally reasonable for them to be that way. Another reason that is understandable is if they have no idea what they could work at all, thus self-isolating (but actually just end up wasting their time). I don't think that most hikikomoris exist due to some extreme anxiety, mental problems. Those should really get some help and rehab. I think that most hikikomoris end up that way due to some problematic experiences with their social environment and in most cases unfair to them. Thus I would like to think that they aren't some low lifes and good for nothings, but it was simply others that were rotten and made them that way (although being spineless isn't exactly great either).

In case of Japan, I think that society isn't healthy at all. From early life you must work more than most other humans at that age. Later in life work until pension. Since Japan is an economically strong country, doesn't lack resources, most jobs end up being in services or convenience products. Most workers aren't essential workers or workers that make crucial things like food, essential clothes or gather some important resources. Thus human values are highly suppressed in such society. Just being all about essential things in Japan simply cannot work too well, since that is in most cases is already met. Due to that reason, you are pressured by society to strive for something more than just that. If you are naturally modest and frugal, what is a point to work more. Work is a way to get cash. You don't need cash, if you don't spend it. In Japan workplaces a more like social gathering places. Their productivity is low and being social at them is rather important. It must suck to be a person, who goes to work just meet ends and then go home soon after workday is over. Thus your life is full of fakery, insincerity, toxic ideals, annoying co-workers, overly demanding customers, annoying social hierarchies. Many companies also don't appreciate innovations, so you can't even improve what you do, you are stuck working in old methods and drowning in inefficiencies. That explains why many offices still use fax machines, Sony sells phones with old internals and there exists many other new and old world bizzarities. So being so suppressed and put into so unnatural environment must be very draining. Another thing is that family life is seemingly so separate in families, so it's unusual and weird to value your family so much that you could put it above work. So in Japan, you are lucky if you sort of enjoy your co-workers and enjoy their ideals. However, it gets rough if you don't, even worse if you don't like superficial life, weird social expectations or you are fine with going to work just for necessities. Many services in Japan can be quite annoying and your taxes in Japan will be high. Your living space in city would be small. So here's a thing, Japan is only good if you fit into very narrow ideals and values that Japan seems to enjoy and if you don't, well fuck you.

Not sure about France, but I suspect that society is radically different than one in Japan, so problems are different and as result reasons for hikikomoris are different. But it seems that the richer society is, the more uselessness and superficiality it has, the more hikikomoris there will be.

The thing is that there are many reasons, to get a bit more realistic understanding of them I would recommend to watch these two videos:
 

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I could never do this... people depend on me. In most cultures you either learn to survive or you die.
I can't imagine that anyone living in the depression era or 1800's or really any other time could be anything but the very richest classes and do this. This lifestyle is a luxury. So is the incel lifestyle, btw.

I think that by having a trade and by feeling a sense of pride in what you do it causes you to feel the opposite of depression. Knowing that you need to depend on yourself and that you can depend on yourself is also important. Any time I meet someone kind of "ducking out" of life, it is someone who is dependent on others and who have never learned to contribute meaningfully to their group. Being dependent on others and contributing meaningfully to a family was not really an option in most societies for the last millennia. Read Little House on the Prairie or Farmer Boy, both by Laura Engles Wilder. Her husband was pulling huge logs with an ox team he trained in the snow at age 10... and it was dangerous stuff. Anyway, I see everyone in their rooms playing video games and there was a time in my childhood when there weren't any video games and I see that people know that they are living for pleasure, wasting their time and skills on nothing lasting or meaningful and they CAN... because they have that luxury.... but what does it actually do to your sense of connection with this world?
 

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A super high-pressure culture with an emphasis on conformity in which most jobs are stressful to the point that they kill people every year but leaving that job for another one reflects badly and can stunt your career. Harassment is rampant and they're going through a rise in income inequality much like the rest of the world. The future feels bleak. I'm not at all surprised that young people are hiding from the world.
 

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When i first heard of it, it seemed like a problem or disorder, but like Sily, I read wikipedia and it seems totally fine (?). It's just the one part on not working that concerns me. In the interviews posted, it seems rather normal too.
Probably since it has become widely known now, there are resources put up available to these people.
 
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