Young men isolating themselves from society

Colton Mudloff, Reporter

Young men all around the world are abstaining from society in a number of ways. The issue sparked research, starting in Japan, as to why some young men chose to avoid society. These men, called hikikomoris, are traditional shut-ins. They spend days at a time by themselves with no direct human contact. The abstainers commonly live in poor conditions, often living among their own filth and waste. The life they lead sounds distasteful or even miserable, but they chose to live this way. Hypotheses claim the reasoning to be related to some form of autism, post traumatic stress disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder. Those who are evaluated to not have mental disorders isolate themselves from the fears of social and cultural pressures that are unique to Japan. However, this may not be unique to Japan for much longer.

Hikikomori is an expanding concept as future and current generations have large amounts of young men choosing not to grow up, even encouraged to avoid responsibility. Young men are being told to stay young, no longer being forced to grow up as they may have been pressured otherwise in previous generations.

Before the middle-class expanded in many cultures, almost everyone in the house had to work. This is a routine of the past, a fading familial necessity. Large patterns seen in hikikomori are soft parenting, parental inability to acknowledge their child’s slide into isolation. With the middle-class growing in the modern day, parents enable their hikikomori child to continue to isolate because they provide for the child, allowing them to live out their lives behind walls. These factors together have developed emotionally weak children that grow into socially-inept young adults.

Research from 2015 reveals that roughly 613,000 hikikomori aged 40 to 64 and an estimated 541,000 people aged 15 to 39 are also recluse in Japan.

Many of the people who have chosen to live behind closed doors have been doing so while holding modern technology dear. They mainly communicate using technology to chat on  anonymous websites, typing with strangers around the world. As many show social anxiety disorder or avoidant personality disorder, hikikomori prefer anonymous contact over face-to-face interaction because they remain unknown.

The Japanese government has yet to take significant steps to curb this issue. The burden of progress has instead fallen upon the shoulders of non-profits like New Start. New Start has a program called Rental Sister to visit hikikomoris in their home and try to convince them to willingly go outside. As of right now, the recluse nature of men in Japan is growing. However, actions are being taken to relieve the problem in the coming years, but non-profits are surely not enough to stop more shut-ins from developing.