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The Pessimistic Heart

ShadowSpirit

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Due to this first post of the thread being rather long, I bold printed the purpose of this thread if you just want to jump into things without reading all my ranting.

This might be a dangerous thread for me to start. Considering that I'm still relatively new here (less than 100 posts) and am sort of sticking my proverbial neck out on the topic I'm about to discuss. Though I feel it is important for me to defend a certain misunderstood demographic of posters on this forum. Hopefully I will come to learn something useful from any potential responses I receive.

First I want to say that above all else, I have met some great people on this forum. I've been given Japanese language tips, advice on relationships in Japan, and insight into some rather intriguing non-Japanese related topics. I've been fortunate to make friends on this forum in my short time visiting it and I feel that many of these people set a high standard for the kind of people I'd recommend that anybody would be honored to know. So to those of you, this thread is not aimed at you. For the others that may fall into what I'm about to describe, try to understand my disposition and not take direct offense. I'm not trying to make enemies out of this. I'm just trying to get some feedback on a trend I find frustrating.

Now with the formalities out of the way. Here is what I'm trying to understand. I've noticed that there seems to be a lot of veteran posters whom harbor a hyper sensitivity against anybody who doesn't come pre-equipped with inside knowledge of Japanese culture. It seems that questions must be asked with extreme caution and don't dare give any hint of misconception, prejudice, stereotype, type-casting, or any other nuance of discriminatory behavior when asking about Japan or Japanese people. It's like, if the questions are closed to interpretation, such as asking. "What manga are you currently reading?" Then everything is ok. Though if the question has a more flexible tone to cultural interpretation such as. "Do most Japanese people read mangas?" Then prepare for people to pull out their pitchforks and skewer the devil whom dare makes a 'generalization' about the people. What is this all about anyhow? It's as if the mentality is that of a mob that is in some exclusive club. Where you either know what is up, or you do not. If you fall into the do not category, it'll easily be figured out by the first few questions you ask. In which case, it seems that picking on that person instead of helping to educate them, happens to be the popular theme.
Here are just a few examples of the many I've encountered...

"Ask a Japanese American" Ask a Japanese American

This might seem like a bad example because if you read the post thoroughly, you'll notice that the OP takes things in a rather unhealthy direction. However, before any of this could even be drawn out of the person. Already people were shooting arrows at the topic. I guess I must be naive to a fault. Cause when I first read the title "Ask a Japanese American." I didn't think of it as arrogant nor as a spot to feign importance. I figured it was about an American citizen of Japanese descent whom is offering to answer questions about the cultural gap between his family's traditions and his upbringing in America. This is reminiscent to Amy Tan novels if that was the direction he was intending to make. It's a story that many people are able to tell but never do. My grandfather had such a story to tell, he was a first-generation born American citizen of Sicilian descent.

"Something I needed to get off my chest.." Something I needed to get off my chest..

This thread is about a young woman who wants to know why she is being shunned for having dyed hair while working at a grocer. There have been mixed reactions on this thread. Though again the gloves come off and she is bashed for allegedly not getting a clue as to what she is doing wrong. She wasn't saying that she didn't know that consequences would be met. She just wanted to know if her hair color truly offends people and to try and understand why. Not much empathy is given to her in her search for answers.

"If You're Desperate for Love, Stay at Home!" If You're Desperate for Love, Stay at Home!

This is a thread I find especially annoying. Right away the applause was in high regards for this post. I guess to one mindset of people, it seems like it is putting a certain group well in their place. Though for its very generally written way, it also makes some terrible assumptions about the more noble intentioned group. Granted, as this thread plays out a bit more, it starts to slowly differentiate between two groups (one deemed acceptable, another not so much.) However to claim that someone goes to Japan to seek a wife because they can't cut it at home, is very brash. If you applaud to that idea, then I think you miss an important picture. It's obvious at this point that I personally fall into the description that this post aims to brand. So let me point out a clear example of why their is fault in this basic logic. I'm an American, I have expressed my interest in looking for a woman in Japan. This isn't to say it will happen, but it is in my interest. Why not find a girl in America? For one thing, I'm an atheist. When you compare the demographic of atheists (Shintoism/Buddhism can be described as religions, but are not theisms,) in Japan compared to that of America, the difference is staggering. It greatly increases the number of available women that I am likely to share a similar life philosophy with. Thus increasing my chances of finding an ideal mate. I'm not a big football/basketball fan. A significant portion of American women are. I also am fond of anime, manga, karaoke, and videogames. Do women in America do those things? Yes, of course they do. Yet how many of them? When someone is raised in a certain culture, certain background, certain venues of entertainment; they usually adopt a fondness for such things. I'm not saying this makes Japanese women better than American women or any other kind of woman out there. Only that it makes them much more likely to enjoy the things I like. To increase my chances. That to me is a good enough reason to romanticize the idea of dating in Japan. Even if I still end up single in the end, I hope my point in diverting attention that way is made.

If you've read this far, kudos to you for your patience with the start of this thread. My question is why do many people on this forum go out of their way to scrutinize people who try to learn things rather than educate them? If a person is biased in their views, then you're not helping matters by insulting them for it. You're just going to let the seed of bias flourish and pass on to all the other people they talk with. Yet if you cut it off at the pass and say. "Hey, Japanese don't say kamikaze. The women in Japan aren't all timid and subservient. Japanese are emotional people that can have loving relationships." Just explain it to people. Don't be so quick to sharpen the axe everytime a misconception is brought up. "OMG JAPANESE DON'T ALL PLAY VIDEOGAMES. YOU ARE SO STUPID!" There is obviously a reason why people think the things they do when they are mistaken. The ideal thing would be to find out why they think it and help teach them otherwise. Afterall, media is about the only educational tool that most people have. We already know what a crock of crap that can be most of the time. So what better way for a person to get the truth than to ask questions to those who know?

Attacking people for trying to learn just comes off as snobby and stand-offish. I just don't know why it has to be this way.
 

Manahaki_Kaori

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My question is why do many people on this forum go out of their way to scrutinize people who try to learn things rather than educate them?

I suppose most people don't know what kind of people are asking these type of questions, but I have that same question as well. I've been on this forum for like a year and a half, but if you look at the number of posts I have you can tell that I hardly get on here. Only if I find something interesting or have a question, I post.

I usually post in the 'GazettE' thread, but the fact that whatever I say gets ignored, I hardly go there anymore. (Also, I got annoyed of the fangirls that keep talking about the band's body parts and their expectations of songs are kind of annoying)

I really don't know how to respond to this without being misunderstood by people, because whatever I say is completely blasphemy in most eyes. I suppose I should just stay home and read a book rather than try to talk to people. ☝

But this thread doesn't get enough credit, and it's truthful. I applaud you for coming up with it. 👍
 

ShadowSpirit

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Thanks manahaki_kaori. It's good to know I'm not alone on this observation. Now I just hope somebody on the other side of the fence can help explain this to us. Otherwise, if more people have noticed the attitude I talk about in this thread, I'd like to hear from them as well.
 

Drew-san

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Well I read a large majority of the post. All of the bold, so forgive me if I missed something. Anyway as you can tell I'm relatively new, well post wise. I've been here for a while, but anyway, to the point...

"Do most Japanese people read mangas?" Then prepare for people to pull out their pitchforks and skewer the devil whom dare makes a 'generalization' about the people.
The title of that radiates ignorance. Someone worth an intuitive response wouldn't make a post like that. To be honest I wouldn't want to see people here with nothing to add, but junk.

"OMG JAPANESE DON'T ALL PLAY VIDEOGAMES. YOU ARE SO STUPID!" There is obviously a reason why people think the things they do when they are mistaken.
Eh, I feel very arrogant in this post (I always do actually), but there is always a reason people think this or that, but when it's something like this, come on... I see it as you get what you deserve. You ask a stupid question people have the right to be irritated.

"Ask a Japanese American" https://jref.com/forum/showthread...039#post613039

This might seem like a bad example because if you read the post thoroughly, you'll notice that the OP takes things in a rather unhealthy direction.

That was me who initially started it. So, I guess you can't blame that on the veteran posters. :D
The guy was a troll. He was trying to make people on the forum angry. People responded the way they should have.

My question is why do many people on this forum go out of their way to scrutinize people who try to learn things rather than educate them?
People on this forum seem to be quicker to help others than most forums. If its a question worth an answer it will get answered. A lot of long time posters have seen a lot of these questions over an over (and over). It gets frustrating to have to deal with the same things when all the original poster has to do is a little research. Most of the time it's obvious that on this forum that question would have been answered at least a dozen times.

I didn't really organize my thoughts, or finish what I wanted, but it's 1:50 and I have stuff to do tomorrows, so I'll end it here.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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A lot of long time posters have seen a lot of these questions over an over (and over).
This is certainly true.

Sometimes there are threads that are started not only on Jref, but on other Japan related fora as well. That is usually a sign of a troll, but if you don't frequesnt the other fora, you don't have all of the information, so the members who call the troll out seem rather pugnacious. However, I can not think of many members at all who are mean or rude intentionally.

I agree that sometimes people's posts are picked apart unfairly, but I suppose that'S part of the price to pay for anonymously asking for free advice sometimes. ☝
 

ShadowSpirit

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Thanks for this feedback. It's starting to become a bit more clear to me.

I distinctly recall in the first post I ever listed, that I cautioned to being new to posting on forums. I gave an apology and dealt away at what was then on my mind. So it is difficult for me to relate to the things that veteran posters have to endure. For that, I now understand the frustrations Drew-san and Mikawa Ossan are bringing to light. Yet I wonder, is it out of boredom that these people get picked on? Cause why bother even replying to the post if you feel they lack the creditibility to bother?

Drew-san: Yes. I do agree that eventually the OP for the post "Ask a Japanese American" did put himself in a negative context and was out to get a rise from people. Though I brought that post up just to point out the early negative responses it got. I guess there is a pattern to these things that you more experienced posters notice which I've yet to become accustomed to.
However, I posted things myself with noble intentions and took several paragraphs and private messages later just to convince people to put their torches down. I've noticed that wording things has to be done more carefully than some people may be capable of doing. Plus, as I mentioned at the beginning of this thread, explaining things could help to eliminate the ignorance.

If we could, lets kick around the idea of the given example. "Do most Japanese people read mangas?" Drew-san, you feel this is noteworthy for ridicule because it could only come from someone unintuitive correct? What if it was worded more articulately? "Is manga the most read literature in Japan?" For whatever reason a person might want to know the answer to this question, do you still feel there is something harmful in the curiosity of it? At times, people write the things they do because they want to be a part of something, but aren't sure how to break the ice. Maybe they should have done their research, maybe they should read around the posts a bit more, maybe they should be a little more thoughtful in the questions they ask. Yet I'm a firm believer in giving the person a chance to explain themselves. Nothing wrong in saying. "Manga is one of Japan's most popular forms of literature, but none more so than that of say paperback novels in America." or asking them. "What makes you think most Japanese people read manga?" and see if they have a sincere curiosity or an asinine intention.

I am seeing your point of view on this though Drew-san and Mikawa Ossan. Which I appreciate the explanations. This information is serving the very purpose of why I asked in regards to this topic to begin with.
 
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Jericho Desu

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I must say I like this thread quite abit, I too have had some problems with people on these forums having a go at me just because I said or worded something wrong. What annoys me is that its pretty obvious I'm trying my best (learning Japanese wise) yet I get ridiculed sometimes because I typed something I didn't realize at the time was 'offensive' to somebody for whatever reason. I understand about veterans having a tough time with repeated questions but quite frankly if you've got nothing positive to say then don't say anything at all is my thinking.
 

nice gaijin

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Despite the seemingly negative posts, I daresay that JREF is a particularly friendly forum, and when people take the time to do their own research or think about what they're saying and how they're saying it, people here can be pretty helpful.

This is the internet, and the response from other people is the only attitude check most people get. Sometimes their reaction seems harsh, so the person either thinks "hey, maybe I should put a little more thought into what I say," or they think "those guys are just jerks, there's nothing wrong with what I'm saying/asking."

The former just might grow up a little and learn the importance of communication and how you phrase yourself, and become a quality poster and a contributor of the board.
The latter learns nothing and continues to use the forum as their dumping ground for their mental diarrhea. I would say that tomii15 is an example of the former, as he seems to have grown up quite a bit since he first started posting here. Examples of the latter are too numerous to count, and they usually leave of their own accord or get banned for whatever reason.

Sometimes people seem harsh in their response but it's ultimately intended to raise the level of communication here on the boards. If you feel that someone needs to be defended then speak up in the thread. As for your examples, simply put:

"Ask a Japanese American"
The guy was a troll, and some people spotted it right away. If you want to try to defend him feel free.

"Something I needed to get off my chest.."
I didn't participate in this thread, but it seemed that the OP wanted to gripe about their workplace policies that seemed unfair. None of the responses struck me as particularly harsh, and she didn't seem to think so either. I'm not seeing the problem.

"If You're Desperate for Love, Stay at Home!"
Looks like you took this one personally. That's a particularly old thread, and again, not one I've participated in, but I don't see any participation from you, either. You feel like you have some sort of valid rationalization for looking for a Japanese mate, yet you opted to make another thread to interject your claims instead of posting in the thread you complain about. For the casual observer, it seems like you were trying to justify your yellow fever in a place where you are safe from rebuke (a thread that's not directly about it) That may or may not be the case, I'm just saying what it looks like.
 

Glenski

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People who insult others that have innocent questions (badly worded or otherwise) are not bored. Insulting people is just not nice.

However, we have to take things case by case here (and I'm sure someone will say that I'm one of the culprits who pick apart others' posts). Sorry.

If someone posts a generalization, it should be recognized as such. Plain and simple. The OP should not get offended.

If someone posts things like "Jap", they will get reprimanded. It's offensive, and if you don't know that, you will learn (usually politely) by those of us who respond.

All other posts are case by case here. If someone is a troll, JUST DON'T RESPOND! If they are simply naive about things, I really have not seen a heckuva lot of flaming here to justify the thread's question (and I've been here and on many other forums a LONG time). In other words, this is a relatively peaceful and good site. If you have a problem with a poster, use the tools available to you -- report them to a moderator (that's what the exclamation point icon is for, in case you hadn't learned), or just ignore them.
 

Jericho Desu

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I agree with Glenski and some of nice gaijin. Everything should go on a case by case basis, some people are pretty obvious when they something pretty ridiculous, but I believe alot of people just don't understand certain things about Japan, because they get their information from unreliable sources therefore they ask pretty 'out there' questions here. I think instead of shooting down someone straight away try giving them a break and see how they respond.
I see alot of people here who don't cut alot of people especially new people some slack. Nice gaijin talks about a 'reality check' by people's harsh words, however that kind of reaction is the same as a teacher shouting at a student because he said something 'dumb' about his assignment but in reality just didn't know. Do you think that student would think, 'maybe I should think about it more before I speak?', I doubt it, it would be more like 'Ok maybe I'm dumb and I should just say nothing, he'll just shout at me again if I said something' and I guarentee most people think in the latter then the former.
 

nice gaijin

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Are you comparing an internet forum to a classroom? Veterans of this board are not paid teachers with a behavior policy they must follow. My statement was meant to illustrate that an internet forum is just a place where people communicate, and the written responses that we get are often the only clues as to the acceptability of our behavior.
 

Jericho Desu

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Did I say I was comparing it to a classroom? I was simply giving an example of how one might feel after being scolded by someone here for asking something that may seem a little ignorant. And no the veterans are not paid teachers with a behaviour policy that much is obvious, but veterans are also not moderators who can deem what is worthy and what is not worthy to be posted here. Granted there are many who spam or troll on here who may 'deserve' to get whats coming to them, but there also many who get punished for very little.
 

ShadowSpirit

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"Ask a Japanese American"
The guy was a troll, and some people spotted it right away. If you want to try to defend him feel free.
"Something I needed to get off my chest.."
I didn't participate in this thread, but it seemed that the OP wanted to gripe about their workplace policies that seemed unfair. None of the responses struck me as particularly harsh, and she didn't seem to think so either. I'm not seeing the problem.
"If You're Desperate for Love, Stay at Home!"
Looks like you took this one personally. That's a particularly old thread, and again, not one I've participated in, but I don't see any participation from you, either. You feel like you have some sort of valid rationalization for looking for a Japanese mate, yet you opted to make another thread to interject your claims instead of posting in the thread you complain about. For the casual observer, it seems like you were trying to justify your yellow fever in a place where you are safe from rebuke (a thread that's not directly about it) That may or may not be the case, I'm just saying what it looks like.
First, I have to applaud you for pointing out that I made a separate thread instead of defending the notions posted in the individual threads. Yet as I had mentioned, I saw several examples of such as I was browsing through various threads. I figured it would have been easier for me to address this topic separately instead of trying to commandeer each thread and turn it into my own thing. I was still expecting someone to eventually call me out on it though, but I felt it was a gray enough area to warrant its own thread.
As for this "yellow fever" comment you made to me. Now this portrays the point I've been trying to make. I thought I did a well enough explanation already as to why I'm fond of Japanese culture. It is not focused solely on the women and it certainly is not a 'fever' of any kind. I've been to the Dominican Republic, Philippines, Australia, Africa, and now I want to go to Japan. I didn't have any 'fevers' for the other places and Japan isn't any more or less special in my mind. Yet if I dare to make an appoint as to why I do or don't like something, then you're going to accuse me of having an addiction (if in favor of it) or being closed-minded (if not in favor of it.)

[edit] After paying closer attention to what Nicegaijin is saying, I realize he wasn't telling me I have yellow fever. Yet rather that I give off a first impression of such. For that I apologize for jumping to conclusion in my reply. I do stand firm in my belief that it was probably a better idea for me to create a new thread for this topic though.
 
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Remixer

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"Do most Japanese people read mangas?"

To be honest, that is the type of question I would likely ask.

So far, I have asked quite a few questions since I joined this forum, and they were all beginner question many of you probably encountered numerous of times.

However, the responses I received were quite helpful and not ill-intended.

Maybe it was that I always made my level of knowledge clear before asking, or explained my reasoning. Clarity can avoid many arguments. :)


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Pachipro

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Shadowspirit, I first want to commend you on a well thought out and articulate post as you are very correct in your assumptions and the purpose of your thread. Your post is the transfusion that forums like JREF needs or else they get stale and peope leave.

Some people who have lived in Japan for any length of time (and I used to be one of them) do tend to get irritated at some of the general questions asked by foreigners much in the same way that they get irritated at the Japanese for asking general questions of long term residents such as "Do you like sushi?" or "Can you use chopsticks?" or when the Japanese comment on how well you speak Japanese when you already told them you studied the language and have lived there for a length of time and they know you are fluent!

I guess it's the same as when some foreign males make the statement that they prefer Japanese women. Most long-termers assume that the "newbie" foreign male is just utilizing stereotypes and basing his preferences on them, and those stereotypes only, so they set themselves up for scrutiny or ridicule if they have not explained themselves first. However, there are some foreign males who are just out to use Japanese women and they make no attempt in hiding it and even brag about their conquests as can be seen in some posts. Therefore, many people will shoot arrows at them, especially at those who are new and make generalizations with no explaination as it does get tiresome after a while when the "newbie" poster has not done a search of the forum to the simple question he/she is asking.

Long term members usually will recognize this and and ask the poster to do a search as the question has been asked numerous times in the past or not even bother to post an answer as it does get tiresome after a while when a simple search of key words or phrases will answer the question. Also, there are some keen members who belong to a few forums and will recognize a troll more quickly than others.

Also, please keep in mind (and this goes for all new posters/members), there are some people, and this goes for many other Japan forums, not just JREF, that will just flame you because they feel like it and make immediate assumptions of a poster. One must understand, and keep in mind, that that there are some people living in Japan long term that do not enjoy it and never will, but stay because of family or their job and will take any chance to to put down Japan or posters who are looking for basic information and/or may be making generalizatons. They use their "long termness" of living in Japan as a "badge of honor and expertizeness" and will not hesitate flaming a newbie looking for basic information based on generalizations he/she may have read or heard about and is just looking for clarifications and explainations when they themselves have lived, as they would in their home country and do not even know a basic understanding of the language/culture even after three or five years of living in Japan and I base this on personal experience.

Also, please understand that I am not calling out anyone by name on this forum as, if I were, I would not hestate in calling out their name/handle as I have done in the past.

I guess what I am saying is that, on this forum, you can expect to hear honest answers to honest/sincere questions and some may take those honest/sincere answers as a flame or an arrow but, after a while, if they stay long enough, they will understand where the poster is coming from.

Don't get me wrong here, there are many on JREF (and I would say more so than on any other forum) that are willing to help at any expense whether they have heard the question a hundred times or not, but they will not hesitate in calling a poster out or slapping them in the side of the head to make them see the futility/inanity of their question/post/argument. Unfortunately, many have thin skin and leave angry before they fully understand the mindset of the long-termers who are just trying to help and sometimes have difficulty distinguishing from the trolls and the sincere posters.

99.9% of the long-term posters here are here to educate or they would not be still here posting. They would have left long ago. Therefore, they are to be commended for their desire to educate and enlighten those that are serious on learning about what it is ACTUALLY like to live in Japan and live as a Japanese would and what one should expect as a foreigner living in a foreign land. If you cannot stand the heat stay out of the kitchen as living in Japan is not the be all/end all Eden/Utopia some make it out to be.

To live in Japan is a challange and any and all foreigners should expect it to be so. To not be prepared for the challanges one is setting themselves for some harsh realities.

Thanks for the post.
 

ShadowSpirit

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Pachipro:

As usual, your understanding of both sides of the coin makes you quite the powerful mediator. Thank you for your contribution that serves to explain the spectrum as a whole. Your examples are educational.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Pachipro doesn't post often, but when he does it's consistently quality stuff!

I would just like to add that if you feel serious about this issue, you can always try to address it by replying often and being sonsistently positive in your replies.

Asking these questions as you are is an excellent start, to understand the causes and nature of the problem as you see it. Ultimately, however, the only person you have any control over is yourself, so that'S the best place to try to change this to the better as you see it. Perhaps as others see the example that you put forth, they will follow in your footsteps! 👍
 

ShadowSpirit

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Mikawa Ossan:

Thanks. I appreciate the word of advice. If I notice any forums that have updated posts similar to what we've discussed thus far, I will try to follow your suggestion by setting the example.

and yes, Pachipro does give great insight in his posts. Don't sell the rest of yourselves short though. You've all done an excellent job to put this topic into perspective.
 
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