Trending Downward


Like many of my peers, I was shocked by some of what I saw in the video. I continually thought back to our discussions of truth/journalism/art and considered how prevalent this “love industry” really is in Japan. The video made it seem as if everyone in Japan prefers being single over being in any sort of relationship. It also made it seem as if you could find some sort of sex store, hostess club or “cuddle café” (which, much like Ryan in the film, I found to be quite strange and hilarious) on every street corner. Putting that aside, the Japanese lifestyle portrayed in the video was unlike anything I had ever seen. Had someone asked me what I knew about the lifestyle in Japan before seeing this video, all I would have known was that it is a very technologically advanced country. However, as depicted throughout the video, the technological advancement and overall lifestyle, which includes the steepest population decline in the world, are not unrelated. While the United States hasn’t been overcome by the lack of human interaction and relationships in the same way Japan has, the trend is still evident and I, for one, don’t think it’s a good thing.

In one of the video’s interviews it was mentioned by Mayo, a host club regular, that, “when Japanese marry and have kids, as soon as the kids grow up, their love fades.” The lack of relationships and human interaction has become so prevalent in Japan that many people are no longer even attempting to find a relationship or get married. In the U.S., according to the NYU Medical Center, the frequency of family meals has declined by 33% over the last 20 years. Similarly, according to a 2011 report by the Census Bureau, the divorce rate has increased steadily decade by decade and is now approximately 50%. Daily Infographic also reports that the number one reason for divorce is a lack of communication.

Daily Infographic
(Taken from Daily Infographic)

I could go on and on finding facts about how the American way of life has changed over time. Personally, I feel as if technology is a main contributor to this breakdown of communication and relationships between people and families. At any given moment you can look around and see how technology has changed our culture. People are constantly looking down at their phones when walking. Laptops have become prevalent in coffee shops and on airplanes. These norms are taking the place of real face-to-face interactions and have significantly impacted our communication skills.

While I don’t believe the U.S. will ever quite have a “love industry,” like the one found in Japan, I do think our lack of human interaction will continue to decline. Divorce rates will continue to rise, families will continue to spend less and less time with one another and the number of single adolescents will grow. When does it become a serious problem? Has it already become one? What can we do to improve this situation? These are all questions that I ask myself. I would hope that at some point, people will take a step back, ask themselves what they truly value, and understand the importance of human interaction and healthy relationships.

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11 thoughts on “Trending Downward”

  1. The statement from one of the young Japanese women in the Vice video really stood out to me in terms of divorce, she cited how many Japanese couples fall out of love after getting married and having children. I think our cultural norms have shifted away from the taboos surrounding divorce, which has led to our rising divorce rate. Yet, I think the taboos around a “love industry” in the U.S. will prevent (or delay) further degradation of our interpersonal relationships and their emotional sentiments through the commodification of the human relationship in such a “love industry” in the U.S..

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    1. I challenge your implied assumption that declining marriage rates will lead to a “love industry”. While I definitely agree that we are experiencing a shift in cultural values away from the institution of marriage, I don’t necessarily think that this a downward trend. In many ways, marriage has been commodified. It’s easier to have a hetero partner in terms of living expenses, taxes, social circles because events and experiences are tailored toward the [white, middle class, heterosexual] Couple. I agree that we won’t continue to degrade personal relationships into an industry, rather I think the way we frame our relationships and their value and purpose will be reshaped as we move forward as a culture.

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  2. Go U.S.!!! I think its really awesome that Americans still value traditional relationships (even though they may be skewed to some extent), and I am very alarmed that a love industry exists in Japan.

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  3. You mentioned that divorce rates have continued to rise decade to decade, and that technology you feel as though “technology is a main contributor to this breakdown of communication and relationships between people and families.” While technology has been on the rise for decades now, I feel as though it has really taken off in the past 10-15 years. I feel as though the developments in said time period have significantly impacted our communication skills. So what do you think the leading causes of decreased communication were before cellphones and social media sites were as widespread as they are? Say, during the 70s and 80s?

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  4. Liz, I’m curious as to what I said that made you think I implied that a “love industry” will arrive in the U.S. While I believe our declining marriage rates and increased divorce rates will continue trending in their respective directions, I don’t feel we will ever have anything like what was seen in the Vice video here in America. However, I do agree with many of your points regarding the way in which marriage is changing.

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  5. Cate, you bring up an interesting point about what may have caused the degrading relationships and communication before the wave of technology. One of the only thing that comes to mind is the the fact that there has been a steady increase in the number of households that have two working parents. This could potentially leave less time for them to communicate and have a meaningful relationship? Personally, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to explain this phenomenon by pointing out one single factor. I’de be interested to look into this more and find possible contributing explanations.

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  6. Zach, your first paragraph reminded me a lot of an article I read recently about a restaurants reflections on watch old video customers vs current tape. Though not all relevant, a good amount of it focuses on how the main differences in customer behavior, which are detriments to the restaurant, are centered around customers now constantly having their phones out at the table.
    http://www.lifebuzz.com/restaurant-truth/

    This being said, in your last paragraph you talk about what can be done to change this. We cannot abandon technology, nor can we abandon human interactions. But do you think we will soon have an accepted substitute for face to face interactions?

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