Tag Archives: Twitter

Reading like a madman mad about books (Bout of Books 10)

Remember how nervous I was about Japanese classes? Well, of course, it turned out fine. I’m one month into class, it’s the right level for me, and I don’t feel like a complete idiot.

But enough of that.

I just wanted to let you all know I’ll be using my blog to make updates about a week-long read-a-thon I’ll be participating in next week called Bout of Books. I just made a video saying I wasn’t going to be participating, but I can’t stay away!

So, what is Bout of Books? Well…

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I will post more specific goals for the read-a-thon soon, and I’ll also be using my Twitter (and YouTube?) account to make updates during the week. I hope some of you will join me in upping your reading output!

 

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ANA’s Ad is Racist, But That’s Not the Problem

I first saw the ad two Saturdays ago when my husband and I were watching TV together. I didn’t think much of commercial until one of the men said, “Let’s change the image of Japan,” and for that brief second, I was excited. “Yes!” I thought. “Let’s do it!” But in the next second, the commercial did a 180. The camera cut to the other man (comedian BakaRhythm), who was now wearing a Cyrano nose and a yellow wig. He’s supposed to look like a hakujin — a white foreigner. My husband laughed. I said nothing.

Some people, like the Japan police of the Internet, think it isn’t racist at all, but I would disagree. The ad is racist; there’s no debating that. What’s debatable is how offensively racist it is, and as for me, it’s not even a blip on the radar. But ANA’s ad is upsetting for other reasons.

Japan sees itself as a unique country (like I talked about in my last blog post). Name your reason–because they were closed off to the world for 200 years, because Japan is supposedly the only country with four seasons–whatever it is, Japan is insistent of its uniqueness. There’s a feeling of “us versus them” within Japan, the Japanese versus the rest of the world, and this feeling is very strong. There are many stories of second-generation foreigners and how, even though they were born here, grew up here, and live here permanently, they are still considered Korean or Chinese or whatever their parents’ nationality was. Either you’re ethnically Japanese or you’re an outsider.

The ad was exciting to me because it speaks about Japan as a global player. There was no “us versus them” …until the yellow wig and big nose appeared, which was like a slap in the face. Changing the image of Japan wasn’t a serious proposal. Instead, it sent the message that Japan is no more international than it ever was. Either ANA thought foreigners wouldn’t see the commercial or they thought people wouldn’t be offended by it, and either is upsetting in its ignorance.

Edit: Hifumi Okunuki has written a great piece on this topic for the Japan Times.

Related: Reactions to the ANA Commercial, White-Face, and Racism in Japan

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Losing Interest in Japan as an Expat

YokohamaThe more time I spend in Japan, the less I’m here for my own ambitions and the more I’m here because this is where my husband is rooted.

Whenever someone finds out I majored in Asian Studies in college, they say, “So you could become an English teacher?” Definitely not! (Those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter might not know that I teach English and very much dislike it.)

When I chose to study about Asia–specifically Japan–it was not with a post-graduation career goal in mind. You see, growing up, I learned nothing about Asia. Then in college I suddenly had so much information about Asia available to me. My boyfriend (now husband) was Japanese, and all my friends were studying Japanese, and there was an entire academic department dedicated to Asia. It was new and exciting intellectual territory, and I wanted to learn everything. I didn’t have an interest in using my future degree to become a translator or an international consultant in a large company. I just wanted to explore.

Fast forward to now. Continue reading

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Making Friends Online and Keeping Offline Friends Offline

Sometimes people I know in real life ask if I use Twitter and if they can follow me. These moments are always very uncomfortable for me, and I always have some excuse to keep them away. It’s not because I don’t like them — that has never been the case. The reason is more complicated than that.

Here’s the thing. The internet is such a low-stress way to interact with other people. (It can be very stressful if, for example, you let yourself get overwhelmed by the mountains of hate people dish out by the second, but that’s another topic.) You can toss your thoughts, opinions, and art into the internet void, and eventually someone will see what you made and will talk to you about it. They will come to you. Or they will post something and you will go to them. There is very little pressure to interact in ways you don’t want to. If you have something to say, you can say it, and if you’re content saying nothing, just keep clicking.

For this reason, I think it’s so much easier to make friends online than it is in real life. For me, this is especially true of Twitter. My Twitter page is me on paper (or in pixels, rather). It’s a daily stream of my life, going back nearly five years now. Who I am is all right there for you to see, and if you like me, you’ll follow. If you don’t like me, you’ll move on. There is no uncomfortable, forced interaction. You interact with who you want to and in the way you want to.

A lot of the friends I have now are people I first met online.

A lot of the friends I have now are people I first met online.

Here’s where things get complicated.

If someone I know in real life asks if they can follow me on Twitter, it means I’ve already been interacting with them for a while. But unlike how things are online, they’ve seen only a very small, very colored portion of me. When I post things online, it’s still a small, colored portion of me, but it’s a version of me that is probably less edited and less censored than who I am when interacting with people in the flesh. I’m going to be more careful about what I say in face-to-face conversation than I am with my stream of thoughts online. And it’s for this reason I don’t feel comfortable with people I know in real life first following my exploits online. Maybe they had a different image of who I am. Maybe they will no longer like me. Things will become uncomfortable between us.

“Don’t we learn that you need to be true to yourself? Isn’t the separation of your IRL self from your online self kind of deceptive?” Yes. It absolutely is. And this is one of my greatest anxieties about face-to-face human interaction. I can’t be myself in the flesh, in the moment. I will say things I don’t really believe. I will agree to things I don’t really agree with. I don’t want conflict. I want to be liked. I want the moments to pass as smoothly as possible. I’m more myself when I have time to form my thoughts carefully. Speaking to someone in person doesn’t allow time for that. They say something, and you need to have something to say back to them NOW. It feels nearly impossible for me to be myself in person, but it’s not something I can avoid. Face-to-face interaction is inevitable.

Perhaps if I were someone more extroverted or strong-willed, I could be myself in person. But I’m not, and so I’m left feeling anxious about my never-ending in-person deception. And I’ll keep coming up with excuses to keep my real life and online life separate.

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