Hikikomori: The Dim Underworld of Society’s Ghosts

I was introduced by a friend to the word hikikomori which is a Japanese term that refers to a person who seeks extreme degrees of isolation. Apparently, this is a widespread phenomenon in Japan.

After reading about it a bit online and watching some videos, this seems to be almost a part of their national identity, and is closely connected to the growing power of computer games to consume an individual’s life to the point that all other activities fall off the radar of interest. It’s a drug with the addictive power of hard drugs, but without the associated ability of those drugs to kill you.

I think many of my ex-girlfriends would characterize me as someone who doesn’t get out nearly enough. I think it’s important to hear that, and understand that, but it’s also important to be able to live life the way I want to without regret. I love good intelligent conversation with close friends. I love reading books that challenge me or fill me with awe. I love doing jiu jitsu and judo. And more than that, I love learning cutting-edge ideas and coming up with new ones myself in and around the field of computer science. Often times, all that somehow adds up to me having to say “no” to a lot of parties and social outings. This creates a perception of hikikomori, but I think that’s very far from the truth.

I’m not scared of life, of people, and of pursuing my passions with all the dedication I can muster.

But I very much find it fascinating that there is large mass of people who are pursuing their passions, and in so doing somehow gradually fall off the path that is healthy for their happiness and productivity, and find themselves trapped in the cage of their sterile habits and dim isolated existence. I suppose it is the danger that anyone with a singular passion risks. But a successful life requires successfully walking the line between crazy and happy.

0 thoughts on “Hikikomori: The Dim Underworld of Society’s Ghosts

  1. Dominique

    I find myself asking this question more and more as i get older,how healthy is it to go after these goals with a single minded passion.
    The time, i have spent trying to achive my goals is not only just the time u place on the mat but the time before and after. Watching matches, reading books,taking notes and traveling to competition.
    Thats the thing with goal setting, to reach them equals time and we have a fine amount, thats why friends you have outside subjects u want to achive you lose touch less and less each year.
    This post does relate nicely to your post of Joe Rogan, you can be good at anything u choice, you can only be great when nothing else matters.
    Thats just how it is.


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