I actually made a long comment on Lelangir’s entry for the RR group’s writing. Due to my male gender, I am just throwing my two cents for random effect. I felt that the comment can be brought back to THAT as well, which is why I decided to throw it here for everyone to discuss about it. The topic about the otaku circle and the demeaning behavior of otaku society has been said to death by many people.
However, there has been little introspective on why this occurs. No, I am not telling you about “oh, I am hated so this is why it happens”. Well, perhaps a little. I am asking you how this condition occurs. In this short entry, I would like to propose some ideas from the bare knowledge I have. If you are wondering who Merton is, Robert K. Merton is a very important 20th century sociologist, along with Paul Lazarsfeld, who talked about social structures in the late 1930s to 1940s. In particular is a very important theory known as the self-fulfilling prophesy, which will be discussed a little more below.
Ok, let’s put this in perspective in rather laymen’s terms since academic discourse is rather tiring for me (I just got back from an academic conference, and it is rather tiring to speak of theories, analysis and the likes for a while). Still, I really like to engage in a little brainy talk, since my dumb mind is getting more rusty as the days goes by. Let me get to my point.
The whole group culture of otakus and the perception we have of NEETS and hikkimoris in general, in my opinion, is a mixture of homophily, the Pygmalion effect and the need for stereotyping. Yes, I have thrown quite a few social science jargons at you, but I will explain them a bit further. Let me go deeper into a ramble of nonsense.
Homophily is a concept used in social network research (something I deal with in my graduate dissertation). Homophily explains that people are more likely to form interpersonal relationships with people of similar traits such as culture, demographics, and behavior. This phenomenon generally occurs within social settings that facilitate similar social actors to form social networks (Knoke, 1990). Moreover, a key finding in Gil-Mendieta and Schmidt (1996) found that homophily is a major factor in influencing the formation of a group network and the frequency of interpersonal communication within a network.
Placed in simple terms, homophily simply means that birds of the same feather flock together. This is somewhat of a social condition of humans to associate with those that are similar to you than someone different. Despite the fact that many otakus seem to admire pretty hot office ladies, they will never talk or have fear in approaching them because they are perceived to be different. That is why otaku hangs out together, resulting in a spiral of negativity and the belief that they cannot associate with anyone. In fact, it is merely the Pygmalion effect, which I will explain below.
The Pygmalion effect is simply a symptom where certain members of society have an inferior complex and poor expectations of themselves. internalize their negative label. The self-fulfilling prophecy has been quipped with many different terms and philosophies, but it is perhaps true that otakus themselves perceive their personal self to be inferior than normal people (or the mainstream). As such, it is like a defense mechanism that rejects social desire, but in fact is aimed to find social need from similar people (returning to my first point).
It only leads others to stereotyping, since it allows people to formulate ideas about a group of people without any need to think. Sympathy comes because there is an reinforcement of status quo within the victimized group (who perceives itself to be in a vicious cycle, true or not) and a superior group (who pities but do not have time to bother about others).
Not sure if I make any sense, but well, that’s it. Citations for interest below. If you understand me or do not, it does not matter. How do you feel about your own mentality in approaching any matter that has consequences?
Gil-Mendieta, J., & Schmidt, S. (1996). The political network in Mexico, Social Networks, 18(4), 355-381.
Knoke, D. (1990). Networks of political action: Toward theory construction. Social Forces, 68(4), 1041-1063.