(Bautista, personal photograph of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China taken August 2013)
Hikikomori is a Japanese phenomenon described as follows:
…the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general as well as to people belonging to this societal group. Hikikomori have been described as recluses, loners, or “modern-day hermits.” (retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori)
It’s not a concept unfamiliar to me as I know I’ve met a few people that I feel operate under variations of this guise – extremely shy, no eye contact, no desire to leave home – preferring the company of one.
To fear the world entirely and to take these drastic measures of isolation that, too, makes sense.
And in our world of self-serving narcissists who feed off of conducting themselves in unconscious acts (online and in life) to garner attention whether positive or negative, well, then I am not surprised that there is a flip-side, a polar opposite, a yin to a yang.
What surprises me is the growing lack of empathy for either of these extremes plus everyone else in-between.
What surprises me is the unkindness shown by people to those they feel are abnormal – a growing unconsciousness I’ve noticed amongst strangers and friends when I hold conversations with them as of late. Such judgement and scorn for difference.
What surprises me is how readily we forget principles of humanity.
Who am I to think I understand the Hikikomori lifestyle but in light of my “surprises”, I can see why they exist.
I believe there is a difference between isolating yourself and putting your self first above all others.
One is fear-based.
The other is for the preservation of the soul and in doing so, the continuity of unconditional kindness to be given to others. In solitude, there is meditation, consideration and forgiveness.
One is lonely while the other is alone.