fantomas writes "The BBC reports on the Japanese phenomenon of Hikikomori: young people, mainly men, who are holed up in rooms in their parents' houses, refusing to go out and engage with society. 'A conservative estimate of the number of people now affected is 200,000, but a 2010 survey for the Japanese Cabinet Office came back with a much higher figure - 700,000. Since sufferers are by definition hidden away, Saito himself places the figure higher still, at around one million. The average age of hikikomori also seems to have risen over the last two decades. Before it was 21 — now it is 32.' Why is this happening? And is it a global phenomenon or something purely due to Japanese culture? (We're all familiar with the standing slashdot joke of the geek in their mom's basement, for example.)"