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Out of Touch

August 7, 2010

If there is one thing that Japan is most known for, it’s probably either anime, or video games; these two products of Japan have one thing in common: escapism. So what are the Japanese people escaping from? Reality of course. But for the Japanese people, it’s not so much reality that they are trying to escape from, but the lack thereof. In Japan, there is no reality, because the emphasis on sociological Solidarity in Japanese culture has made everyone fake. In Japan, they are not escaping from reality; from their perspective, what they are escaping from is a dream.

Even though the society I live in does not emphasize solidarity nearly as much as Japan does, I can still relate to this notion: that fiction is more real than reality. It might seem a preposterous suggestion to the average person, but true. In real life, everything is so predictable, like clockwork. So predictable that it’s sickening. Everyone I know around me is slave to society, and playing out their lives to the tune of society, and they don’t even realize it. The unpredictability of fiction is far more real to me than reality.

So then, is it any wonder that the Japanese people would value anime, video games, and immersive reality above real life? Most people I know believe that I don’t get out enough, that I need to connect with people and socialize a little bit more, that I need to get a girlfriend and start “living in the real world”.

But one of the things I confirmed in Job Corps, is that no matter how many interesting people I met, and no matter how many unusual activities I partook in, I would never find the reality that I was looking for– that I am looking for. Despite the variety of people I met and things I’ve done my life, even in Job Corps– home of some of the most unusual people in the world– everyone was preditable; no one was real.

I don’t care for this fake world, to me it is only a means to an end. I intend to help usher this world into a true reality, a world where people are honest with themselves and others, and that people don’t feel compelled to alter their behavior to make people accept them. A world where people don’t need to take others into account at all– that “being yourself” is considered the natural course instead of an unrealizable ideal– that’s the kind of world that I want to live in, and the world that I wish to create.

As far as I’m concerned, a world where no one can be true to themselves is not a reality worth living in– it’s not a reality at all. Such a world as this is not even a dream– it’s an empty shell destined to collapse on itself. There is no reality without substance, and when everyone gives up who they are to be accepted by others, the end-result brings nothing but emptiness and a hollow fragility.

Compared to such a fragile reality, the passionate and free-flowing world found in fiction– in manga, anime, and video games– is a reality far more worthy of living in. So rather than saying that people are using visual entertainment to escape reality, let us more accurately portray the real problem: People creating their own reality through visual entertainment, because the “real world” isn’t real at all.

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