All posts filed under: Technology

Thoughts on Modernity

Modernity is ultimately about human agency and reason. Such allowed people to accomplish and to fight for so many things. The values and practices that we espouse now  – freedom of expression, human rights, free markets, mobility, innovation – are legacies of changes that took place in Europe from the 1600s onwards. They are contemporary expressions of modernity.

On the purikura: Japanese photo booth

If you have been to Shibuya or Shinjuku, you must have seen girls going to photo booths to take Purikura. Purikura is a shortened version of “Print Club.” In a Purikura photo, the girls come out with enlarged and anime-like eyes, smooth skin, and extremely long and skinny legs. How they appear in a Purikura seal is different from what they actually look like. And they are satisfied with this. They even praise each other because of how cute they seem in the photo. I was one of those girls when I was in high school. I dropped by Shinjuku to take Purikura almost every time I went out. My friends and I were obsessed with the way we looked in Purikura. Why is Purikura so popular among young Japanese girls, particularly those in high school? Purikura started in the 1990s. Back then, it was different. You could only take black and white pictures, and Purikura did not really modify your face and body. It was used to etch memories in a seal. Over the …

Interacting with Myself and by Myself: Social Interaction in Online Space

When I was a student in Japan from 2011 to 2015, the incidence of hikikomori was a much-talked-about issue. The Oxford dictionary defines hikikomori as “(In Japan) the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males.” It was an unprecedented social phenomenon; no one knew what it was and how to deal with it. It is easy to conclude that the hikikomori are outcasts of a fast growing society and that their emergence is a natural outcome of social change. However, such a notion raises too many questions: why did they emerge in this particular point in time? What have influenced young people to be hikikomori? What do they imply about the current society?

“Yummy Teh!” and Everyday Realities

According to Sapir and Whorf, language is the lens by which we see the world. Language is enriched as we define and redefine everyday realities, and new articulations, through an agreement on the meanings of letter combinations, emerge. Over the years, what is oral – words we would hear only in informal conversations among certain social groups – start to seep into mainstream culture and even become part of the lexicon. And as shown in the picture, this has also allowed us to perceive everyday realities in more colorful ways.

Verstehen Top 10 Socio-Cultural Heavyweights of 2013 (Part I)

You might be thinking that this endeavor is foolish, knowing full well that everything is sociological and anthropological, but there are those that occur that make us stop in our tracks and rethink where humanity is now, and where it is going (or not going, for that matter), and those are the events we revisit in this year-end countdown.