Sexless Japan | ‘Busy-ness’ | Virtual Reality

  1. If texting was already prevalent in Japan early 2000’s, then it’s almost like they’re a snapshot of what the future culture could be like in other societies around the world. The most common thing I read about them is their aging population and the lack of interest shown by the younger generation in sex. A recent survey of Japanese people aged 18 to 34 found that almost 70% of unmarried men and 60% of unmarried women are not in a relationship, of which 42% and 44.2% respectively admitted they were virgins — reinforcing the moniker Sexless Japan. I recently looked further into this as I kept seeing it and I’m not sure it’s as dire as often made out. Still it’s an interesting development and makes me wonder how much of a role technology has played in it’s emergence. It’s not terribly difficult to make the correlation; the use of technology (particularly smart phones) isolates us from each other and we spend more time in our heads than expressing or experiencing unmediated feelings with each other.
  2. Personally, I would say that if I saw someone who wasn’t busy I would naturally apply more importance to that person as they appear to have time to just be in life and aren’t constantly concerned with bouncing around trying to figure out what the fuck is going on or how to make their next dollar — probably only to spend it on that new iPhone in whose screen they wish to crawl further into…which takes me to my third point.
  3. The third space talked about by Oldenburg could emerge through virtual reality. It ticks all the boxes bar one, which will naturally dissolve over time. The eight characteristics mentioned are:
  • Neutral ground: Occupants of third places have little to no obligation to be there. They are not tied down to the area financially, politically, legally, or otherwise and are free to come and go as they please. (if this doesn’t sound like the internet, I’m not sure what does)
  • Leveler (a leveling place): Third places put no importance on an individual’s status in a society. Someone’s economic or social status do not matter in a third place, allowing for a sense of commonality among its occupants. There are no prerequisites or requirements that would prevent acceptance or participation in the third place. (again — you can be anyone on the internet)
  • Conversation is the main activity: Playful and happy conversation is the main focus of activity in third places, although it is not required to be the only activity. The tone of conversation is usually light hearted and humorous; wit and good natured playfulness are highly valued. (this is something that’s highly promoted online, I’m even trying to encourage it right now)
  • Accessibility and accommodation: Third places must be open and readily accessible to those who occupy them. They must also be accommodating, meaning they provide the wants of their inhabitants, and all occupants feel their needs have been fulfilled. (this is the exception, and it’s really only the current price point of VR headsets that makes it inaccessible; although I’ve recently downloaded the client for Sansar which I can explore without the need for one)
  • The regulars: Third places harbor a number of regulars that help give the space its tone, and help set the mood and characteristics of the area. Regulars to third places also attract newcomers, and are there to help someone new to the space feel welcome and accommodated. (every online space has those beautiful bunch of weirdo's that keep you coming back)
  • A low profile: Third places are characteristically wholesome. The inside of a third place is without extravagance or grandiosity, and has a homely feel. Third places are never snobby or pretentious, and are accepting of all types of individuals, from several different walks of life. (although I didn’t spend a great deal of time on Second Life, I jumped in to explore who lived there and found a most pleasant community)
  • The mood is playful: The tone of conversation in third places are never marked with tension or hostility. Instead, they have a playful nature, where witty conversation and frivolous banter are not only common, but highly valued. (continuing with above example, any wanker-like behavior was quickly snuffed in the space I hung out in… one moment in particular was when someone dressed in a Panda suit would randomly jump around everywhere and spam the chat with emoji’s, destroying the conversation. Although slightly amusing, let’s just say he wasn’t tolerated for long)
  • A home away from home: Occupants of third places will often have the same feelings of warmth, possession, and belonging as they would in their own homes. They feel a piece of themselves is rooted in the space, and gain spiritual regeneration by spending time there. (I could tell that people spent a lot of time on Second Life and just by observing noticed genuine friendships between people, so to summarize I think there’s an increased chance of finding your people in a space like this)

Regardless of anything and what it all means, one thing I know for certain. We’re living through an incredibly interesting time, and sometimes the best thing to do is not worry too much about the effects and instead tip your toes in and see if you’re up for a swim. I talked with Greg the other day about the experience of real books vs. e-books, and I have to say, he did quite a good job of throwing a sledge hammer at the foundation of my opinion in favor of the former.

Perhaps the greatest gift that we can give to each other is a greater understanding of ourselves.