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Tokyo's Geek Ghetto 488

anaesthetica writes "The Washington Post is running a story on Tokyo's "Geek Ghetto" which has arisen in the city's electronics retail district, "Electric Town." From the article: "We have been discriminated against for being different, but now we have come together and turned this neighborhood into a place of our own.... In Akihabara, we don't need to be ashamed of who we are and what we like.... We can feel comfortable because here, we outnumber everyone else." There are concerns, however, that the total immersion in escapist culture may be causing social problems, including a growing number of shut-ins." I've gone to Tokyo 3x and visited Akihabara all three times. Highly recommended for anime fans and techies.
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Tokyo's Geek Ghetto

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  • by Carthag (643047) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:43PM (#12749096) Homepage
    I don't get it. Are you saying persecution is a plus? Or that being a geek is bad? Or something else entirely?

    I've never been persecuted. I might be a geek, but I am also so many other things. Labels are stupid.
  • by timster (32400) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:48PM (#12749164)
    No... there might not be that many of them, but in general, geek girls are only interested in geek guys.

    So: hello, speciation.
  • Anime != geek!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:48PM (#12749166) Homepage Journal
    So since when did Anime and comics become synonymous with the word 'geek'? Aren't we a little more diverse then the article states?

    I play with Linux, computers and build things, but I have never really liked Anime, and I got over my comics phase when I was a teenager. In my spare time I sometimes play with the computers, but I also enjoy GETTING AWAY from the computer and play my son, go bicyling, play in the garden, etc.
  • by CFTM (513264) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:54PM (#12749248)
    Seeing as I am a recovering geek/computer nerd shut-in, I can empathize with some of the potential problems brought up by the article. It's taken me five years to become confident once again in social situations because of the amount of time I wasted sitting in front of a computer screen playing games. This is no one's fault but my own and it wasn't until I took responibility for my life that things started to change but I do honestly wish my parents had kicked me out of the house in high school and forced me to go out and be social; it would have made college life a lot easier. I don't think societies should encourage this sort of behavior because it is ultimately destructive; these people indulge in their hobbies without developing entirely as human beings. This is NOT a good thing in my mind...oh well just my two cents :)
  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:56PM (#12749279)
    I got to a * Institute of Technology, and it sounds about like this, other then the fact that we lack stores. Anime obsessed people, game obsessed people, social misfits, a good number of shut ins.... Yeah.... Sounds familiar.
  • by Sonicboom (141577) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:00PM (#12749357) Journal
    As an IT professional - this is the LAST place I want to go on vacation.

    A nice beach - cold beer - girls - bikinis!

    The purpose of a vacation is to ESCAPE - the last thing I want to see is technology and be surrounded by GEEKS.

    (no offense guys)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:01PM (#12749366)
    Shut-ins are a social problem because if you live in your room you are not working. If you are not working, someone else is paying for your food, clothing and shelter.

    What happens when whoever is paying for you to mantain your lifestyle stops doing so? Hikikomori can isolate themselves for years, and when they emerge from their isolation, they are very poorly equiped to handle reality. This poses all sorts of problems for them because they don't know how to support themselves. If they can't get a job or a home, that is society's problem because society has an intrest in reducing the number of homeless people.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:05PM (#12749424) Homepage Journal
    So, you haven't been to Seattle?
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@nOsPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:14PM (#12749556) Homepage
    In the US we call this the classic popular vs. geek syndrome. It's very similar, the only problem in Japan is that by this an other articles I've read it's worse. In the US, we at least pay lip service to the idea of individuality. We also have tons of people who are terribly protective of our right (perceived or otherwise) to own our own copies of music and TV and do what we want to our own bodies.

    However, in Japan, my perception as a Gaijin is that Japan's social structure is far far more rigid. You fly this way, or else face social rejection!

    Why do geeks in the US withdraw into themselves? Because society shuns them! Why to geeks in Japan withdraw into their houses? Because society shuns them!

    My point? Well the article misses the problem because it suffers from the US perception of geeks as weird and shunned. The problem is not the geek, it's the people who shun them. Maybe society needs to be more accepting of these peoples behaviors and appearances add not judge them on actions that do not hurt other people. Otherwise it's society itself that's to blame for people who cannot interact with the rest of society.
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:23PM (#12749664)
    and the girls are complaining that they can't get a decent date cos the guys are all social zeros.

    But they are social zeros because they can't get a date :). Actually the real reason has little to do with social skills. Good looking geeks don't have too much trouble getting dates. But then they usually have pretty good social skills too.

    Unfortunately, at least in the US, being a geek is kind of synonymous with being ugly. We are expected to be ugly. Some of us even became geeks mostly because we were ugly. A super good looking geek is kind of a brain twister for most girls. I have met a few in my life and, yes, they all had really hot girlfriends. I don't think those girls thought of them as geeks, although they actually were.

    I just figure I wouldn't have as much time to pursue my geeky interests if I had a girlfriend. Haha! More time to work on my latest game or assembly app or Lightwave model of the perfect female face...
  • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:57PM (#12750149) Homepage Journal
    Ah, so I don't fit your stereotype of a 'geek' because I don't follow all the geek trends.

    Isn't that what a geek is? Someone with interests outside the mainstream?

    Oh the irony...
  • by stuartkahler (569400) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @02:03PM (#12750226)
    I mean really wanting women to dress up in anime costumes? Give me a break. This is not remotely healthy.
    Here in the USA, we have restaurants where women are paid to dress up in tiny orange shorts, white tank tops, sneakers and pantyhose. A while back there were clubs with women in satin bustiers, hose, high heels and rabbit ears that catered to the wealthiest businessmen. The servers in many casinos wear skin-tastic outfits that aren't remotely grounded in typical dress standards.

    The shut-in part is certainly an unhealthy lifestyle, but there's nothing particularly odd about enjoying waitresses in 'fetish' costumes, particularly when common denominator is lots of exposed skin.
  • Re:Persecuted? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maestro4k (707634) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @02:42PM (#12750669) Journal
    Some geeks are persecuted. But they are the geeks like in that SNL skit about the computer guy. You know the type the ones that feel al high and mighty because they know computers and think everyone else is stupid because they don't. Then people ostracise them and they think they are being persecuted.
    Wow are you ever clueless. I was highly persecuted in high school and junior high. I was never high and mighty, I kept to myself and was a good student. I certainly didn't lord my knowledge over people, but that didn't stop people from attacking me cause I was the least popular kid in school.

    You were lucky, and I suspect you're younger than I am. Being geeky/nerdy/smart is not seen as big a negative as it used to be. Now it is cool to know about computers and the Internet. Back when I was in school most of the kids didn't really know or care what a computer was. All they cared about was I was different and my parents weren't rich. That made me the target-dejour.

    You should think about what you said though, do you realize just how "high and mighty" you've come across in your post? You sound just like the people you're saying deserve to be persecuted.

    And for the record _NO ONE_ ever deserves to be persecuted. If you don't like them, ignore them and avoid them, but don't treat them poorly. How you treat others speaks more about you than it does them. I never persecute people, I've been through enough of it myself and know how dehumanizing that experience is. If I think they're an idiot or don't like them I just ignore them and get away from them as soon as I can. But I _DO_ treat them with respect and courtesy, even if they're jerks to me. I'm not going to become an asshole because of someone else's attitude. If you want to, fine, but I'm not lowering myself to that level.

  • by acb (2797) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @03:29PM (#12751199) Homepage
    You'd be surprised how many "ugly"-looking men are attractive enough to women who can hold their own in the dating marketplace.

    So good looks aren't everything; there are also basic social skills, not talking in a monotone, making eye contact, basic personal hygiene, and being able to hold a conversation about things outside of one's narrow field of specialisation (be it microprogramming, football, the history of punk rock or whatever). And, of course, the skills that come from repeated social interaction with people who don't necessarily share one's interests shouldn't be ignored.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @03:37PM (#12751291)
    So good looks aren't everything; there are also basic social skills, not talking in a monotone, making eye contact, basic personal hygiene, and being able to hold a conversation about things outside of one's narrow field of specialisation (be it microprogramming, football, the history of punk rock or whatever). And, of course, the skills that come from repeated social interaction with people who don't necessarily share one's interests shouldn't be ignored.

    you're forgetting about money.
  • by FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) * <fuzzybad AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @03:43PM (#12751346)

    Apparently you are the "live to work" type, while your friend is more in the "work to live" camp.

    As the famous philosopher Torquato Tasso said "Any time not spent on love is wasted." Sometimes those personal projects we like to think are important are really just an excuse to avoid social interaction. (trust me, I've wasted more than enough time in this manner)

  • by PakProtector (115173) <cevkiv@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:34PM (#12751910) Journal

    Do not measure the meaningfulness of a person's life by how much they achieve, but by how happy they are with their life. If you can sit around in the bottom of a ditch covered in shit and truthfully say that you have nothing to regret and would not have it any other way and are happy, then your life is far more meaningful than someone who is rich, has a handsome spouse, and all of the modern conveniences, and is miserable with them.

  • by Heretik (93983) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:09PM (#12752869)
    And sometimes those personal relationships people think are important are really just an excuse to avoid doing anything useful or interesting with life.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)