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Opinion | What Does It Mean to ‘Look Like Me’?
Sept. 21, 2019 | The New York Times | By Kwame Anthony Appiah. Mr. Appiah is a philosopher.

Minorities can find it gratifying to see people who resemble them on-screen. But resemblance is a tricky thing........It’s a formula that we turn to again and again to affirm the value of inclusion, especially in the realm of popular culture: the importance of people who “look like me.”......The “look like me” formula appeals because it feels so simple and literal. We can think of a black or Asian toddler who gets to play with dolls that share her racial characteristics, in an era when Barbie, blessedly, is no longer exclusively white. The emotions it speaks to are real, and urgent. And yet the celebratory formula is trailed by jangling paradoxes, like tin cans tied to a newlywed’s car.......For one thing, nobody means it literally. Asians don’t imagine that all Asians look alike; blacks don’t think all blacks look alike.....What the visual metaphor usually signifies, then, is a kinship of social identity. ....the complexities don’t end there. When it comes to representation, two cultural conversations are happening at the same time. One is about “speaking our truths” — about exploring in-group cultural commonalities......e.g. the cultural conversation put on by comedians whose jokes you “get” — the in-group references that resonate with you, that trigger a knowing “nailed it!” smile......That’s one way of “looking like me.”.......What films like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther deliver is a way of “looking like me” that’s as much about aspiration as identification. We say that their characters look like us; maybe what we mean is that we wish to look like them.....What these fantasies ask is, Who gets to tell you what you look like? It’s not a representation of identity so much as it is a renegotiation of it.......How identity relates to identification is, of course, a complicated matter.........The truth is that our best stories and songs often gain potency by complicating our received notions of identity; they’re less a mirror than a canvas — and everyone has a brush. It takes nothing away from the thrill of feeling represented, then, to point out what the most ambitious forms of art and entertainment are always telling us: Don’t be so sure what you look like.
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How did children develop self-worth and an identity before movies and tv? People have to stop looking to mass and social media for self-esteem.
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The trouble is that racial and ethnic iconography, including color, eye shape, nose length etc . govern our responses to people the second we see them.
cultural_appropriation  cultural_conversations  culture  emotional_connections  identity_politics  inclusiveness  Kwame_Appiah  paradoxes  popular_culture  representation  self-identification  self-worth  visible_minorities  visual_cues 
21 days ago by jerryking
oh no all my earnestness in one place
> the major skill that all of you have acquired is how to be a more thoughtful, invested, engaged person in today’s world. That’s hard to put on a resume, and even if you could, I don’t know if employers would value it: somehow “understanding how ideologies of race, sexuality, and gender are encoded in the media that surrounds us and influence our interactions with each other” isn’t as marketable as “Proficient in Excel.”

​> There’s an old union slogan I’ve been thinking about a lot: 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for work, 8 hours to do what you will. What you do with that time “to do what you will” — go outside, read deeply and widely, go to the Bijou every night for popcorn with brewer’s yeast, run for office, go to church, advocate for things that actually matter to you — that is just as much who you are, if not more so, than the time you spend at work. Unions understood and still understand: work is part of life. But only part.

​> We don’t have to monetize our hobbies.We don’t have to value education for its ability to provide readily marketable skills.
anne-helen  burnout  self-worth  work  speech 
june 2019 by jasdev
Why You Should Try to Be a Little More Scarce
May 18, 2019 | The New York Times | By Cindy Lamothe.

* Conventional wisdom tells us we should eagerly embrace every opportunity that comes our way, but playing a little hard to get has its advantages.
* Robert Cialdini, a leading expert on influence and the author of “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.”
* John Lees, a Britain-based career strategist and the author of “How to Get a Job You Love.”
* Liz Ryan, founder of Human Workplace and the author of “Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve.”
* Shirli Kopelman, author of “Negotiating Genuinely: Being Yourself in Business,”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Studies show that opportunities are seen to be more valuable as they become less available.....the scarcity principle says that people are more attracted to those options or opportunities that are rare, unique or dwindling in availability,”. The underlying principle is “reactance”: Essentially, when we think something is limited to us, we tend to want it more....it’s possible to harness this concept and increase our appeal in things like negotiations and career advancement.....if you find yourself becoming overzealous over every little opportunity that comes your way, here are a few ways to keep things in balance:

(1) Be less eager - Appearing readily available can work against you....This comes down to economics — if you’re in low supply and high demand, you’re worth more. Making something harder to get, “tends to increase at least the perception of the value, if not its actual value.”....tell people that you're “..selective with who you work with, but you would consider working with or for them.”... “Well, I do have a couple of other projects that I’m working on. However, I could prioritize this for you if you want.”

(2) Don’t jump the gun - It’s easy to become excited when an unexpected opportunity presents itself, Ms. Ryan said, but remember that your power in any negotiation is related to your ability to walk away. Once you have interest, channel that into due diligence, Mr. Lees said. “Research the organization as if you were going to invest half your life savings in it,” he said. It’s also important to continually check in with your gut, Ms. Ryan added, and remember: Don’t accept an offer before fully considering the terms.

(3) Know your market value - continually assessing our market worth, “so that if an unexpected opportunity comes up, you don’t have to rush and do a slack job on this crucial factor.”...Keep an updated spreadsheet on hand with a list of your skills and achievements so you can quickly review it when you have an offer. You also have to know how much to charge for your services beforehand. The idea is to plan ahead so you’re not scrambling in the moment.

(4) Adopt an abundance mind-set - Recognizing that there are unlimited possibilities can give you the security and confidence you need to create successful outcomes. ....reframe how we use scarcity and abundance in our own head before we can apply it outwardly. When you worry about all the things you’re going to lose out on if you don’t take a particular opportunity, you’re using the scarcity mind-set on yourself rather than as a persuasion strategy, he said. “You’re at a real disadvantage mentally.”

(5) Trust the process - appearing less available isn’t about limiting our enthusiasm or being unnecessarily hard on ourselves. It’s about trusting in our own self-worth so we can be proactive, experts say. This means mindfully aligning our excitement into strategy....“Emphasize the uniqueness of your resources and your collaborative approach"
abundance  bank_shots  books  conventional_wisdom  job_search  Managing_Your_Career  mindsets  opportunities  overeagerness  overzealous  preparation  scarcity  selectivity  self-worth  think_differently  unexpected 
may 2019 by jerryking
Where Self-Esteem Comes From
> That thought — Do I like who I am while I’m doing this? — has visited me a few times a year ever since, and I’m finally seeing how crucial a question it is.



> Years can pass before you notice something’s wrong



> This deficit only intensifies the need for comfort and gratification, and you gravitate towards more of it, when what you really need is more of the alternative.



> We all have those moments where we feel like we’ve gotten away from our best selves. We might not know what’s gone wrong, but it’s clear something’s gone off, and we know we have to step back and reassess what’s important.



> Self-esteem seems inextricably linked to the specific feelings of identity we get from the activities that make up our days.



> Often, the healthy, fulfilling things we’ve drifted away from are things whose significance probably wouldn’t occur to us, until we start doing them again and see how much they contributed to our well-being



> Compared to admonishing yourself to smarten up or try harder, this is like navigating life with a map and compass, rather than simply moving toward whatever terrain looks most inviting from where you are.
david-cain  self-worth  self-image  reflection 
may 2019 by jasdev
The Last Taboo (by Toby Schachman)
> Laziness is the taboo of our generation. I hope future cultures will look back and see that we were obsessed with working all the time. Anyone who wasn’t working enough felt ashamed. Be more productive! Your worth as a person is only as good as your job title / how much money you make / however you fit in to the production-consumption system.

​> If you think this would be a better way for all of us to live, I think the key to realizing it is finding an alternative value system other than identifying our human worth based on the work we do. This is difficult. Most people have no idea how to understand their place in the world except in relation to their job. Who am I? I’m a role at institution.
via-jason-brennan  capitalism  self-worth  burnout  laziness  toby-schachman 
may 2019 by jasdev
Why People Ghost — and How to Get Over It - The New York Times
By Adam Popescu
Jan. 22, 2019

Ghosting — when someone cuts off all communication without explanation....happens across all social circumstances and it’s tied to the way we view the world......The pace of modern life makes it hard enough to maintain real life friendships; it’s impossible to actually be friends with everyone you’re supposedly simpatico with online......Growing apart can be a friendship’s natural evolution; ditto for lovers.....when you get ghosted, there’s no closure, so you question yourself and choices which sabotages self-worth and self-esteem.....ghosting a form of the silent treatment akin to emotional cruelty (the pain it causes can be treated with Tylenol, according to multiple studies). So, how do you avoid it in the first place?......be particularly choosy about who you tend to interact with,”....get a sense early on of what kind of individual you’re dealing with.”......watch how people treat others is a good indicator.......Ghosting has a lot to do with someone’s comfort level and how they deal with their emotions,” she added. “A lot of people anticipate that talking about how they feel is going to be a confrontation. That mental expectation makes people want to avoid things that make them uncomfortable.”.....the flip side [of ghosting] is a subset of the population looking for real connection. “People are craving authenticity,”...“Being vulnerable is the number one thing that creates intimacy between people and if you worry about being hurt all the time, you’re not able to be vulnerable and it affects the quality of connection.”....ghosting has a lot to do with how we feel about our future — or whether we think our mate is the “one,” which is a question of belief versus destiny. Either someone believes the relationship is capable of growing or they’re seeking an archetypal partner (what’s typically called a soul mate). “Individuals who have stronger destiny beliefs are more likely to ghost,”....remember if someone ghosts you that behavior says more about them than you,” Dr. Vilhauer said. “It’s about their discomfort. You have to keep trying.”.....modify how we reject people.....Don’t apologize, she said, but be honest about boundaries, whether it’s going to a movie with someone or spending the rest of your life together. Just be real. “The good middle ground is explicitly rejecting someone and telling them ‘no,’ not ‘I’m sorry,’”....Taking a risk to tell someone how you really feel — even if it’s not what they want to hear — has benefits. Self-esteem, stress, blood pressure, spending more time with people you care about. And getting that time back opens up self-discovery.
authenticity  avoidance  belief_systems  blindsided  breakups  clarity  Communicating_&_Connecting  dating  discomforts  exits  friendships  ghosting  intimacy  personal_connections  relationships  say_"no"  self-discovery  self-esteem  self-worth 
february 2019 by jerryking
Gravis McElroy on Twitter: "hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted"
"hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted

weird. can't figure out where he got the idea to kill random people of color from. i mean he did parrot the drivel of people who i remember even in 2000 couldn't go ten minutes without saying we should kill someone for not being white. no idea where he got this idea

https://medium.com/mammon-machine-zeal/ultraviolent-flash-games-after-9-11-b416b836f28e … i was just reading this yesterday and reflecting on how teens talked online in this era

I can tell you that a tremendous number of people, a really ghastly number, spent the entirety of their teen years not going more than a few minutes without saying or hearing "kill" directed broadly at a group of people. I was in that group.

that is to say, i was in the set of people who constantly talked about killing people

that's how we talked about everything. it was the go-to. virtually any described offense was met with the response that we should kill an entire group of people. the homeless, POC, gay people, trans people, nothing garnered more than a second or two of thought

anyone, absolutely anyone the least bit different than us - mediocre white teens - needed to be killed. It's still how people talk on 4 c h a n, a time capsule permanently frozen in 2006 with all its members permanently frozen at age 20.

nothing ever changes there. nothing changes on forums in general. the world is fixed permanently in the year that people joined the forum, because everyone on the forum has spent every day since they joined the forum on the forum.

By the way, people keep saying they remember the games in that ZEAL article. I don't, but the article still hit home because there were thousands of them. Thousands upon thousands. All indistinguishable. This is what we /did/ in that time.

there was a period in the early 2000s when the response to virtually any figure entering the media cycle was the immediate release of a complete multimedia spread including images, music and games, all depicting their death or suffering.

most of this was not in response to any kind of actual thought or emotion. there was a group-hate, where the existence of nearly anything was reason to hate it. the amount of hate in teenage boys was an immeasurable constant; we had an infinite supply of it.

why were my "peers" telling me to hate boy bands in 1999? i have no idea. nobody ever explained it, it was just assumed. this was the zeitgeist, a zeitgeist that was unexamined even by teenager standards.

but this shit was very much the root of a lot of what's going on right now. at age 12 i entered the greater growing web and was immediately inducted into a community of seething, pointless hatred directed at everything

I think I would have been a nicer person if I had been stopped from going to newgrounds. I think it made me a piece of shit and an asshole and I would have stayed that way and become a real mother fucker if not for friends specifically targeting my shittiness.

Gravis McElroy Retweeted the government man [https://twitter.com/me_irl/status/976490292948951041 ]
@me_irl
hey yeah what *was* this. i can see its roots start to emerge by like the 1970s in the form of compulsory derisive juvenile "parody" versions of absolutely everything

… I have no idea. I didn't go to school for this so I'm pretty sure someone at a university has a pretty good lock on why this happened, but yeah, it's kind of an incredibly scary part of our society that I've never seen addressed in any way.

Who told 11 year olds to start casually quipping about killing Barney? I know we weren't enjoying it. It wasn't funny or fun. We felt /compelled/, it was /expected/, and i suspect the motivations were circular with no patient zero to be found.

I can't harp on this enough: Nobody was having fun. Nothing going on on Newgrounds or anywhere else that was in this vein was fun. It wasn't entertaining. Even as dipshit kids, this whole thing was strained.

There was a formula. Nobody knew where it came from, but it seemed to have been there forever. The response to /all/ cultural phenomena was to create something deeply cynical and usually violent and we were doing it like we were punching a clock. The laughs were forced.

I can't prove this. The time has passed, and at the time I had few personal friends. But what my gut told me at the time was that nobody was having a good time, I just didn't know how to read it. Now I definitely know what those feelings meant.

Gravis McElroy Retweeted [ande dooting] [https://twitter.com/quicksilvre/status/976492376645603329 ]
@quicksilvre
Right? It felt like we grew up in an age where we weren't allowed to truly, unironically like things or people

This is exactly on point. We didn't like anything. Nobody liked anything. Nobody admitted to liking anything. Liking things wasn't cool.

And that's how we now have people in their mid thirties who are only just beginning to whisper, on social media where they're ostensibly surrounded by friends, that they /might/ like anime or fantasy novels or or or. Or anything that isn't cynical

Oh btw if you want an example of something that's very very cynical, have you considered: call of shooty

First person shooters were fuckin' *there* for us, ready to swoop in and offer the cynicism we'd been raised with. Kill everything. Blow everything up. Yawn. The nihilism we'd been taught primed the *pump* for that shit.

I always come back to this when I talk about this stuff: knowing what caused this is important because we have millions of people, no, read that again, millions of people who were injured by this and don't know it and are not getting any help culturally.

Every one of them is a problem we have to solve eventually and none of us have any idea how to do that and we have to figure it out. Because we can't just write off a whole generation, "anyone who was young and online in 2000," they are our problem to deal with now.

They are here, and they are permanently angry and hate sincerity, and we actually can't coexist with them. They are turning into nazis because they don't know how not to.

It's nice to think "oh we'll just kill the nazis" but there are more ticking-time-bomb fascists that came out of this than anyone realizes. They feel alone in the world, they don't connect with anyone or anything, they have no anchors at all. They never learned how to be happy.

The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong

And you know what? The internet is the problem. The internet is a huge fucking problem and we all know it, we all know it's putting shit in front of young people that they aren't ready for. And we knew it then, our parents were right about it, just not right enough.

I don't know what can possibly be done about it. No program of censorship would be right or effective or anything but counterproductive but, fuck, we can't write this off.

In my view we have a tremendous number of dangerous broken men in this nation now specifically because of the unregulated nightmare that the web was in the early 2000s and I don't know what to do with that information but I'm not going to forget it.

that was me just a few years ago. i remember it vividly. the difference between me and Them is solely that someone managed to break through the shell and teach me that it was worth it to be a person, to not sleepwalk through life.

https://medium.com/mammon-machine-zeal/ultraviolent-flash-games-after-9-11-b416b836f28e … I'm linking this again because ZEAL deserves the credit for this thread; that article prompted a lot of thought about old memories. They post a lot of insightful stuff that benefits IMO from not being produced by a massive corporate publication."



[also: https://twitter.com/gravislizard/status/976499065461469184

Newgrounds and all those other edgy early 2000s hellholes are all Superfund sites. Sad, shitty things we look back on and say "okay, okay, we fucked up," but even as the words spill out of our mouths we are pouring soil for a new development over another toxic waste dump.

They are not places of honor, no esteemed deed is commemorated there, this thread is a message and part of a system of messages, et cetera. We need to not just skip over this. What is being created /right now/ that is equivalent to those?

https://twitter.com/gravislizard/status/976497457151451136 … also i'd like to clarify this, because I meant to, or felt like i should, or something
The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong

by "radicalized by the void" I mean that there is a sort of person who does not want to be a person, who hates the idea of becoming a person and the responsibility associated with it. they want nothing more than to be left alone to be mediocre.

a lot of mediocre white men, from the person vomiting slurs on 4c han to the nazis in the street, feel that society is trying to force them to reflect on themselves and /that is what they want to stop/.

It's important to acknowledge that this is true, that their perceived struggle is real, and that our intent is to not let them live the lives they want to live because they are implicitly harmful. We do not have the luxury of apathy, it invariably results in harming the innocent.

The war being fought right now is over apathy. we all know the article by now: "I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About … [more]
crime  masculinity  terrorism  internet  2018  2009s  9/11  children  youth  cynicism  violence  death  emotion  hate  suffering  newgrounds  socialmedia  callofduty  nihilism  mentalillness  censorship  apathy  void  self-worth  life  care  caring  society  reflection  responsibility  personhood  evil  sexism  racism  homophobia  teens 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Struggling to find work? Try creating your own infomercial - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016

Jim Beqaj,'s book, True Fit. an executive coach and former president of CIBC Wood Gundy, who learned from being the wrong fit in two top executive posts that we need to be less automatic or desperate in taking on jobs and far more discriminating.

Answer four questions, which will form the heart of your infomercial:

(1) What should you pay me for? List the strengths you bring to the job. Not the normal bumph on a résumé--a clear listing of skills.

(2) Who do you work best with? Look through your life and list the people you liked working with – and why. They may have been big-picture thinkers, energetic, boisterous, decisive, or collaborative.

(3) How do I like to resolve conflict? Workplaces can have strikingly different methods for handling conflict and you don’t want to find yourself in the wrong camp.

“Your conflict-resolution style could be, for example, competitive. If you’re in an environment where avoidance and accommodation is the order of the day, you could be seen as a bully, not a team player.

(4) What’s my perfect day? Describe a day or a specific project you worked on in which you were so absorbed in what you were doing it didn’t feel like work.
job_search  JCK  management_consulting  Managing_Your_Career  Harvey_Schachter  conflict_resolution  infomercials  books  fit  strengths  personal_branding  self-worth 
november 2016 by jerryking
What is in your life's blueprint?
1. A deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebody-ness. Don't allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth. Always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

2. Have as a basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.
gabby-douglas  martin-luther-king-jr  self-worth 
august 2016 by yolandaenoch
Swipe right for negative self perception, says research into Tinder users | Science | The Guardian
Tinder users were more dissatisfied with their bodies and more likely to objectify their appearances than those who did not use the app, study shows [...] “People are living in a surreal world, creating these unattainable ideals and expectations that no one can meet,” said lead author Jessica Strübel of the University of North Texas. “It’s creating a 24/7 constant need for impression and appearance management.”
Online  Dating  Tinder  OKCupid  Sociology  Psychology  Selbstdarstellung  Selfie  self-esteem  self-worth  Twitter  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  mental  health 
august 2016 by asterisk2a
Jane Lynch and Byron Katie Do "The Work"
Other people will mirror back to you what you haven’t taken care of inside of you yet.
byron-katie  jane-lynch  self-worth  mindset  commonplace-book 
october 2015 by yolandaenoch
Michelle Obama Just Gave 1,000 Schoolgirls Incredible Life Advice
Young women must teach other that they're worthy, but "first and foremost we have to believe it to be true for ourselves," she said. "I learned that when I was young. I'm worthy. And if I'm worthy, so are you."
michelle-obama  62milliongirls  self-worth 
october 2015 by yolandaenoch
Turning Japanese: coping with stagnation
"Coping with stasis: how the supposed 'sick man of Asia' might be a model for us all"



"As I ease into town, usually via the limousine bus service, the sidewalks outside are teeming with well-dressed urbanites heading home from work or out to restaurants, everyone in motion with purpose and meaning.

But that’s not what the papers say. Japan has seen over two decades of a stagnant-to-recessionary economy since its 1989-90 juggernaut bubble burst. It has become the world’s economic whipping boy, described repeatedly as ‘the sick man of Asia’, incapable of revival, doddering off into the sunset.

Reports of Japan’s societal stagnation are no prettier. Stories about the country’s ageing population and plummeting birth rate abound – with the latter hitting a record low last year amid dire predictions of a disappearing Japan. At current rates, demographers estimate that the overall population will drop 30 million by 2050."



""Do rich societies really need to get richer and richer indefinitely?" he asks. "A lot of improvements in standard of living come not through what we normally consider as growth, but through technological improvements."

In fact, Pilling sees Japan's globally stagnant years as a time of dramatic domestic growth, if not the kind associated with standard economic measurements like GDP. "Many would agree that the standard of living, particularly in big cities like Tokyo, has improved significantly in the so-called lost decades. The city's skyline has been transformed, the quality of restaurants and services improved greatly. Despite the real stresses and strains and some genuine hardship, society has held together reasonably well. If this is what stagnation looks like, humanity could do a lot worse."

What makes one society hold together 'reasonably well', while others fail? You only have to look to the language for insight. Common words like ganbaru (to slog on tenaciously through tough times), gaman (endure with patience, dignity and respect), and jishuku (restrain yourself according to others' needs) convey a culture rooted in pragmatism and perseverance.

After the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in northern Japan, the international media was awash with stories about the dignity and superhuman patience of survivors, many of whom peacefully waited hours in single-file lines for relief supplies, only to be turned away in the frigid weather, asked to try again the next day. No one rushed to the front; no one rioted. In shelters, meagre foodstuffs like rice balls were split in half or in quarters to make sure everyone had something to eat.

Nearly everyone was on the same proverbial page: Japan's population is 98.5 per cent Japanese, as defined by citizenry. While ethnic diversity has its strengths (and some academics point out that, when you analyse the population's regional roots, Japan is quite diverse), a set of common cultural values, instilled from birth, may strengthen resilience in the face of crisis and adversity.

Journalist Kaori Shoji tells me that having few resources and learning to make the most of them is essential to the Japanese character. "The Japanese temperament is suited to dealing with poverty, scarcity and extremely limited resources. If [American Commodore Matthew Perry's] black ships didn't show up [to open Japan to Western trade] in the 19th century, we'd still be scratching our heads over the workings of the washing machine or the dynamics of a cheeseburger. On the other hand, with four centuries of frugality behind us, we have learned to be creative. Frugality doesn't have to mean drab stoicism and surviving on fish heads.”

Japan's stagnancy, pilloried by economists and analysts in the west, may turn out to be the catalyst for its greatest strengths: resiliency, reinvention and quiet endurance.

Until a couple of years ago, I lectured Japan's best and brightest at the University of Tokyo. My Japanese students were polite to a fault. They handed their essays to me and my teaching assistant with two hands affixed to the paper, like sacred artefacts. They nodded affirmatively when I asked if they understood what I'd said, even when they didn't . They were never late to class, and they never left early.

But when I pressed them on their future plans, they expressed a kind of blissful ambivalence. "I'd like to help improve Japan's legal system," Kazuki, a smart and trilingual student from Kyushu told me. "But if that doesn't work out, I just want to be a good father."

Sayaka, a literature major from Hokkaido, asked me if I understood her generation's dilemma. "We grew up very comfortable," she said. "We learned not to take risks."

No risk-taking – anathema to today’s 'fail-fast', Silicon Valley culture – would seem to indicate stagnation writ large. But what if it's a more futuristic model for all of us, even superior to Japan's sleek, sci-fi bubble-era iconography: all hi-tech and flashy yen, but no soul?

Waseda University professor Norihiro Kato, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, sees a radical example in Japanese culture that he describes as a model of 'de-growth', of returning to other measures of growth that transcend stagnancy, focused instead on quality of life.

"The shape of wisdom as well as self-worth has drastically changed,” he tells me at his office in Takadanobaba, north west Tokyo. "We can point to periods of change, the late 80s with Chernobyl, or early 90s with the end of the USSR and communism [the end of history, according to Francis Fukuyama], or the early 00s with September 11. And finally the early the early 10s, with March 11 and Fukushima Daiichi."

Kato sees our world as one of fundamental transition, from dreams of the infinite to realities of the finite – a transformation Japan grasps better than most of us. "I consider younger Japanese floating, shifting into a new qualified power, which can do and undo as well: can enjoy doing and not doing equally."

I ask him if Japan's model – stagnancy as strength – can inform the rest of the world, educate us in the possibilities of impoverishment?

"Imagine creating a robot that has the strength and delicacy to handle an egg," he says. “That robot has to have the skills to understand and not destroy that egg. This is the key concept for growing our ideas about growth into our managing of de-growth."

Handling that egg is tricky. A spike in youth volunteerism in Japan post 3/11 suggests that young Japanese, despite the global hand-wringing over their futures, are bypassing the old pathways to corporate success in favour of more humble participation."



"Mariko Furukawa, researcher for Japanese giant advertising firm Hakuhodo, reckons the think-small mentality of young Japanese is turning stagnancy into sustainability. She cites the proliferation of agri-related startups – peopled by young Japanese who are leaving the cities for rural environs, despite the low returns, and who don’t seem to care about globalisation.

"These small techs should really add up to something, and we may be able to replace [stagnation] with new innovation, not necessarily new technology," Furakawa says. "I think (the) Japanese ability to innovate in such things is very strong. And so, because these city planners and urban designers are talking about downsizing the cities, wrapping up into smaller furoshikis (Japanese rucksacks), so to speak, the awareness is there, they know what needs to be done. In this sense, we may be at the forefront of developed economies."

Furukawa notes that many European nations facing similar dilemmas don't have the same tools to address them. "Europe has been suffering from low growth. But I don't know if they are that innovative at new ways of living."

Japan's Blade Runner image of yesteryear, a futuristic amalgamation of high-tech efficiency coursing through neon-lit, noirish alleyways in sexy, 24-hour cities, is really a blip in the nation's 4,000-year-old history. Today the country is more about quality of life than quantities of stuff. In its combination of restraint, frugality, and civility, Japan may serve as one of our best societal models of sustenance for the future."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/business/international/japans-recovery-is-complicated-by-a-decline-in-household-savings.html ]
culture  economics  japan  stagnation  sustainability  growth  2015  rolandkelts  resilience  reinvention  endurance  risktaking  norihirokato  qualityoflife  wisdom  self-worth  marikofurukawa  frugality  kaorishoji  fertility  davidpilling 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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