Nippon has had access to immersive technologies longer than many other nations, owing both to it's size and population, and to it's historical integration with technology. As such, many common terms from the now defunct 3rdNet and active CogNet are Nipponese loan words. While other nations often fight the import of Nipponese culture, it is often a pointless struggle as the terms have been in use and are part of the lexicon, or the attempts at replacing them with local terms fail because the Nipponese term is better known as has a greater sense of correctness.
What is Ukiyo?
The CogNet is a vast and often alien place, dominated by advertisers and megecorps, undermined by black data feeds and underground nodes, and patrolled by computer intelligences and cadres of cyber ops. Within this, there worlds stacked on top of worlds, many drawing on the rich history of comic books, genre fantasy and sci-fi, manga and anime, and cinematic universes and the discographies of video games. Within these multitudes of worlds there are hundreds, thousands of social groups, societies, user created nations, factions, and special interest groups.
Ukiyo, or the Floating World, is a social retreat from the pressures of the modern world. Dating back centuries to the red light districts of major Japanese cities, the old Floating world was full of theatres, brothels, and tea houses. In this place, the samurai and the merchants could forget their duties and demands of their time for a little while in the pleasant civility of music, tea, and the attention of the geisha. In the Cosmic Era, Ukiyo is as much the same. With high population density, and many workers having their lives planned out before their birth causes a strong interest in escapism. While high power businessmen and other hard working folk favor the dream salons or honest bars and brothels, there is a section of the population that finds escape in the CogNet.
For the Hikikomori, the CogNet, Ukiyo, is more important that the abaissemonde, or the real/material world. To the Hikikomori, their pursuit of the release of Ukiyo, stepping out of the fantasy is almost the same as withdrawal from drugs, and is characterized by many of the same symptoms; nervousness, nausea, sweating, depression, and atavistic responses.
Abaissemonde: French in origin, Abaissemonde is a portmanteau combining the verb abaisser: to dimish, lessen, depress, and the noun for the World. The term is used in contrast with Ukiyo, and is the 'sinking' world compared to the Floating World. The base functions are served in the abaissemonde, eating, drinking, defecating, and the tasks required to maintain a connection CogNet access. Eventually, the only reason the Hikikomori leave the fantasy of Ukiyo is to either die, or do the things required so that they don't die.
What is Yugen?
Yugen is a Nipponese term that means understanding of, and greater awareness of the world that exists, and is part religious and part philosophical in nature. In the CogNet meaning of the word, yugen is the state of oneness with the net, a sort of electronic nirvana. As such, the term is comparable to the modern 'cool' and its various iterations. If Ukiyo is a place, then yugen is the state of being.
Who are the Hikikomori?
There are six general criteria for determining is someone is hikikomori.
1. Spending the majority of every day confined to the home, using immersive technology.
2. Marked and persistent avoidance of in person socializing and social situations.
3. Their behavior interferes with what is perceived to be a normal routine, including occupational, academinc, social, relationships, and otherwise. This is also known as being NEET (Not in Employment, Education of Training)
4. The person believes the constant immersion is an important and beneficial part of their life.
5. Symptoms last more than 6 months.
6. No other mental disorders that could have similar symptoms, such as spectrum autism, Aspergers, etc
The hikikomori are the lost, abandoning their lives for the happiness offers by the CogNet. This is a combination of the underlying nature of the CogNet, it's rooting in the Dreamlands and the dissolution of society predicted by the Universe 26 model. The trend towards hikikomori is growing as time progresses, and in some situations, the only thing that keeps people from become part of the lost is that they aren't able to afford, or set up a system to maintain their CogNet addiction.
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? Responses (2)
A truly enjoyable read. A window into our own humanity's future? The verisimilitude of the virtual reality experience and the effects thereof described here is awesome (and yugen!). And of course, the Japanese.
Like Muro said, the first thing this reminds me of is the Internet addiction problem and the Hikikomori is what the Chinese call 'home boy/girl' (literal translation here). And yugen makes me think of meditation.
This is a good sub for showcasing and linking to the other subs of the Cosmic Era (even though I haven't read all the linked ones). I esp. liked the contrast b/w Ukiyo (Floating World) and the French word meaning sinking world that have come to represent virtual reality versus the real world. However, what I felt a little weird about this sub is that it felt like details are missing (at least to me). Or rather, I should say that I somehow expected that the sub would dive into some of the more important/signature social groups floating around in Ukiyo. That might not be your intention and I understand that. It's just that the sub is feeling more like an overview atm.