From Eric Rohmer’s Tale of Summer, stolen from this tweet
I am staying a seaside town and reading about Japan’s economy. Problems posed by an aging and declining population… The Japanese term for population aging is 高齢化社会. Over 40% of unmarried Japanese men in their 20s have never been on a date. People do not touch each other in public, and from what I can tell they do not start conversations with strangers.
Studies suggest that Japanese citizens perceive their country as modern and enjoyable, and “have no sense of a widespread fertility crisis.” The architecture is very beautiful and I’ve seen greenery that makes me want to cry. Everything is clean and orderly, and they have mastered cuteness to a degree an American would find almost unthinkable. Even the construction vests light up in a cute way. The lattes are served in long-stemmed glasses. In the morning I pass gaggles of little kids wearing orange bucket hats and gigantic leather backpacks.
The US, by comparison, is unrefined, chaotic, and individualistic. I wouldn’t know how to compare San Francisco to Tokyo, but I understand why certain West Coast urbanists are preoccupied with Japan. Still, I’ve had some friends move Japan for a year or two, and reported that they felt very lonely. We use the phrase “in a bubble” in a pejorative way, but I think the things that makes me happiest is feeling that I’m surrounded by people I like. Most of my friends are age 25-35 and are very interested in technology. Many have pretty unusual education backgrounds (dropped out of college, never went to college, were homeschooled) and are autodidacts. Most don’t have kids yet. They are all open, curious, resourceful, and quite persuasive.
I think it’s important to identify as part of a group, a phenomenon, a moment in time. When I feel unmoored, I’m reassured by the existence of my peer group: people who have similar opinions, live similar lifestyles, and find similar things interesting. I think my friends are smart and talented and fun; moreover, I think they’re good people. They shield me from cynicism—it was never possible for me to be contemptuous of technology or dismissive of SF because I always loved my friends. I would be so happy if my children turned out like them.