Re: electric meme bombs

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Tue 22 Oct 2002 - 04:56:53 GMT

  • Next message: Philip Jonkers: "Re: electric meme bombs"

    >----- Original Message -----
    >From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    > > > > It would negate the meaning of the word "transaction."
    > > >
    > > >But is that necessary to conduct an inquiry into memetics, considering
    > > >the fact, like I posted, about hikikomori !?
    > > >If all these kids were to be living in isolation how did the behavior
    > > >spread_
    > > >if not by kicking their own a... !?
    > > >How can a transaction take place between isolated islands of frustrated
    > > >kids
    > > >!?
    > > >Considering the fact that all the parents didn 't said anything about
    > > >condition wherein their kids were living !
    > > Do you think that other kids indulging in this behavior had never been
    > > talked about in the presence of these kids either at school by their
    > > or in the newspapers or on TV? I would say by word of mouth from peers
    > > would be the most logical method of transmission.
    >I don 't know Grant, knowing a little bit about Japanese customs I would
    >say, no, what you mention would not be the most logical method of trans-
    >mission !
    >In Japanese society failure is a taboo, and that is one side of the
    >The second part is the parental consideration that the kids his or hers
    >isolation has to be kept secret.
    >Even it were to be true that the way of transmission is the only one, still
    >kids fear meeting strangers and are petrified if those would find out they
    >were ill !
    >I don 't know, but can this be a pathomeme, one of the worst kind we
    >ever could met !?
    >Is this, would this be an example of a memetic disease !?
    >A kind of way by which memes secure their own survival !?
    >Afterall, a total mental breakdown of the kids would mean death
    >of the memes, no !?
    >Just a suggestion though !
    Isolation is relative. Are you familiar with docomo, the telephone system that all kids in Japan seem to be tuned in to? And then think of this scenario:

    One kid fails to show up at school. The other kids talk about it with each other. Bullying is a large problem in japanese schools. It is almost impossible to deal with. But one kid finds a way to deal with it by just not going to shool. Either on the telephone net of personal phones or one of the kids from schools sneaks over to a back door or window and asks the kid what he's doing. He just says he's not going to school anymore. In fact, he's not going anywhere because bullys are everywhere.

    Next, the kid who found out what happened takes the information back to school and it gets around. Another kid who is being bullied hears about the first incident and decides to fight it the same way. From these beginnings, a reporter picks up the fact that kids are not going to school -- an unheard of situation in normal families in Japan. (After all, where did you hear about it?) This causes the behavior to become common knowledge to a wide range of children with problems at school. After all, it has a name now and everyone is talking about it.

    As much as the family may wish to hide the behavior of a misbehaving child, the other children in the community will be more than willing to talk about it. Being married to a Chinese wife and having spent a few years in Japan myself, I know that the one thing you can count on over there is that if someone is acting strange, the community will whisper about it and talk about it.

    Not only the other children will be talking about it, but the teachers and adminstrators at school will be discussing what to do about it. The local police will be called upon to look into it. What if the child has come to some physical harm? Why didn't he/she show up for class? Inquiries will be made by people in positions of authority.

    Japan is not a place where other people's business remains a secret. When I lived in Mino, just outside Osaka, everybody knew everyone else's business and that's what most of the gossip was about. A buddy of mine and I shared a couple of rooms in a farmer's house. He had a girlfriend living with him and one day I entered their room without knocking and caught them in the middle of sex. I mumbled excuses and backed out feeling like a complete ass, but what surprised me was the girlfriend. She started wailing and carrying on saying, "Now everyone is going to know."

    Well, everybody already knew. I don't think she really thought different. But now that I had actually seen her doing it, she felt naked to her enemies and everyone else in the community. The idea of privacy in Japan was an elaborate charade when I was there. Everyone knew everyone's business but made a great show to your face of pretending not to. Away from you, it was common knowledge.

    Another incident that illustrates my point was when my buddy cam back from the bath house and told me the other men in the bath house were commenting that I walk "too proudly" when I was there. It seems I held my head too high and didn't acknowledge the other bathers. If I hadn't heard it from my American buddy, I never would have known I was the talk of the town. But being an American, I can't imagine now that I wasn't.

    So the idea that what these kids were doing was not common knowledge among the other kids and the rest of the community is, to my mind, a myth. The Japanese house was never designed for privacy. Rice paper soji screens do not hide anything nor do they keep sound from traveling between rooms. Houses are built so close to each other that you can scarcely walk between them. You can't hide anything from your neighbors or friends.



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