Hikikomori – The Japanese’s moral panic

 “Hikikomori is a condition in which the affected individuals isolate themselves from society in their homes for a period exceeding six months. The psychiatrist Tamaki Saitō defines hikikomori as “a state that has become a problem by the late twenties, that involves cooping oneself up in one’s own home and not participating in society for six months or longer, but that does not seem to have another psychological problem as its principal source”. -Wikipedia

Why is Hikimori a moral panic?

Hikimori is a critical issue in Japan now.  This phenomenon describes young people who have an escapism life in society. They are hidden in their own world and refuse to go out. Recognized as hikikomori, these people haven’t participated in society, or shown a desire to do so for at least one year. They merely split from their families and friends.

The phenomenon was alerted when the Japanese government census put the figure at 540,000 for people aged 15-39. But it could easily be double that number. (Butet Rock, 2018,  Photography). Hikimori is the fear which spread among a large number of Japanese residents since the shreds of evidence that the phenomenon will affect badly to the young’s physical and mental health, the domestic economy or even the culture.

Hikikomori as a moral panic

According to Standley Cohen’s stage of moral panic in “Folk Devil and Moral panic”. I would like to explain the stages make the Hikikomori become a new moral panic not only for Japan but also the whole world’s community.

First of all, “Young” is acknowledged as one of six objects of moral panic. Hikikomori directly affects the youth. This issue emerges and creates its own group of people who adore and practice it.

Even though Hikikomori has been existing for a pretty long time. But not until this year,  when the media is priming the issue. They exaggerated the problem that the Japanese young people is getting more and more anti-social nowadays. The media predict the future of the Japanese young generation. They assumed that Hikikomori is becoming a trend which plenty of people will follow and create bad impact on society. The media draw a terrifying future: the economy is stagnant, the culture is not preserved and the population is getting older. Media also play a role in symbolizing an issue. They portray the Hikikomori people as the one who is anti-social, staying home all day long watching movie or reading manga, and they are only active in the night time. The representation created by media make a backlash on social media. Young people exaltedly discuss whether they are Hikikomori or not.

Thirdly, the public is the most important factor which contributes to the moral panic. Indeed, the discussion of Hikikomori consider the disadvantages of this phenomenon and Hikikimori is a type of minimalist lifestyle.

Indeed, the Japanese government published ít initial Guideline on coping with Hikikomori cases along with the results of surveys conducted in health centre of Japan. They do have some action such as establishing limited governmental funding for Hikikomori support and creating more jobs which are regardless of educational backgrounds, communication skills and supported by smooth school-work transition and an underlying stable economy.

Why is the public panic about a moral issue?

According to Cohen’s criticisms of the moral panic theory. The panic feeling comes from feelong of being out of control. People prone to be panic about the things which out of their knowledge.

Work sites

Holthus B & Manzenreitor, 2017, ‘Life course, Happiness and Well-being in Japan‘, New York

Kingston J, 2014, ‘Critical Issue in Contemporary Japan’, New York


Social media or place for demostrating democracy

Social media is the place for entertaining, making new friends or even promoting products… But to some extents, when you connect the dots and start operating it, you will find above all, social media is the modern “public sphere”. In this writing, I would like to discuss especially Facebook network.

What is “public sphere”?

Basically, “public sphere” is the place where people can come and freely discuss and identify societal problems. Furthermore, “the public sphere as a virtual or imaginary community which does not necessarily exist in any identifiable space” –  German philosopher Jürgen Habermas defined. According to that concept, Facebook can be admitted as a public sphere.

How does Facebook operate as a public sphere?

As the place includes all the active users to express their ideas and beliefs, Facebook keeps innovating its operation in order to fulfil public’s demand for discussing. Facebook now timely updating news on the diversity of the field such as entertainment, social news or even political events… Beside utilizing user’s expression by creating groups, hashtags or EdgeRank, Facebook is social media which pioneered in joining in the political action. For example, in the parliamentary election in May 2010, Facebook prompted its users to vote online by having applied the application that can help people vote and participate in debates, votes and petitions.

Being opposed to Habermas’s public sphere concept which excludes a wide range of people, Facebook is open for everyone. Of course, that leads to many consequences. On the contrary of the fact that users must deal with many negative and distort ideologies, Facebook is more democratic and open to discuss issues. Facebook implements the discussing activity by applying the model of disagreement which basically allows people to discuss more and more by exposing users to the perspective that they don’t agree with. Besides, users can actively create their own space such as fanpages or groups to discuss issues with individuals who have the same interest.

Facebook’s roles in creating a “public sphere”

In my point of view, since the effort to make discussions, Facebook in particular and common media in general, are striving to serve public’s interest and ensure both of democracy the “dominant ideology”. It plays a vital role as a place for “encoding and decoding” activities and it is designed to facilitate the sharing both of individual and group of individual.

To sum up, social media holds the main position as public sphere of discourse. The media plays a role as a provider of a medium discuss issues, and the most important: “Media is the sword arm of democracy” (globalethicsnetwork.org).


A view of media ownership as an apprentice communicator

There are many different points of view about “Media ownership”, most of them are surrounded by the democratic problem and diversity of source of information. And the question arises “Is the media ownership that bad?”.  

What is media ownership? 

Media ownership is when a few media firms dominate the media market and it comes from the result of merging media company.

Why does media ownership matter? 


Limitation in the number of media ownership helps us explain the lack of diversity in information and that’s the reason why the readers may not have a fulfilled knowledge to evaluate an issue. Furthermore, the media integrity, which contains both public interest and the democratic process, may not completely be demonstrated. This will greatly affect the false beliefs in society and limit freedom of speech.

According to Marxist Media Theory, media as amplifiers,  ”In Marxist media analysis, media institutions are regarded as being ‘locked into the power structure, and consequently as acting largely in tandem with the dominant institutions in society. The media thus reproduced the viewpoints of dominant institutions not as one among a number of alternative perspectives, but as the central and ‘obvious’ or ‘natural’ perspective”(Curran et al. 1982: 21). This is a prove of media ownership problem which makes the audience shortage of critical perspective.

So what will happen without consolidation of media ownership?


Every issue has two sides, media ownership is not necessarily bad.

Firstly, in my own perspective, media ownership restricts the limitation of freedom of expressing, which happens when freedom of speech conflict with other rights and freedom. Social media is a great example, since it’s the place for anyone to express their opinions, many defamed statements were expressed that may badly affect people or a group of individuals when “The job of media to promote peace initiatives, support individuals and groups who are involved in the peace process” (Raza Hassan). As the example mentioned above, governments and nations should use media as the tool for the promotion of peace and protect their citizen from aggressive ideologies.

Secondly, media oligopoly has the ability to provide more diverse offerings to the consumers. As James Gattuso – a senior research fellow in regulatory policy agreed that the ability to own multiple media allow media owner to provide different programs for the diversity of markets. Basically, media owners can easily serve the needs of the different segments of the viewing population.

Last but not least, the owners innovatively improve quality of media. As the result of the effort to serve the needs of the different segments of viewers and being a locally broadcast, the consolidation of media needs to keep innovating the quality of news. The media audience will be served very well in the term of media ownership

Further details

It is necessary for us to aware of who owns the media we access to get the news. For instance, I use both of Vietnamese newspapers and international sources to access an issue in my country in order to have a more objective view on an issue and avoid being manipulated due to the diversity of media owners I choose.

But what trust do I have in choosing a source of information? I think it depends on my ideology, authenticity, time decay of the news and even general evaluation of public opinion.

To sum up, as a communicator and also a part of media audience, we should be active in evaluating “media ownership” to demonstrate media integrity effectively.

1 tháng có lẻ xa nhà

Hôm nay ngồi trên chiếc xe bus mà ngày nào cũng về, đi trên con đường ngày nào cũng đi mình lại ngồi nghĩ vẩn nghĩ vơ về câu chuyện đã 1 tháng có lẻ xa Hà Nội rồi ấy nhỉ. Lắm lúc đần mặt ra ở công viên, ở trường hay trên giường, mình cũng chưa tin được cái sự thật rằng mình đang ở xa lắc xa lư. Những lúc như thế, nhớ Hà Nội thật.

Cảm giác đi du học, đi học ở xa, đi học ở rất xa là cảm giác trong người luôn đầy tin yêu và háo hức và cùng lúc ấy là những khi đêm về nằm như kén trong chiếc chăn dày cồm cộm đếm ngày đếm tháng để được về nhà và ở nhà. Thấy mọi thứ diễn ra xung quanh đều mang tính chất tạm thời, ví như hồi đầu sang mình còn để đồ đạc gọn gàng hết sức có thể với tư tưởng kiểu gì cũng chuyển nhà sớm hay cuối năm gom đồ về cho tiện. Đó, cảm thấy tất thảy cứ chóng vánh, tạm bợ vì đây không phải là nhà.

Dù là thế, mình vẫn cảm thấy việc có những nỗi nhớ về một ai đó hay nơi nào đó là điều đẹp đẽ nhất trên cuộc đời này. Quan trọng là, việc yêu một thành phố cũng giống như ở trong một mối quan hệ, cậu phải thực sự rời đi mới biết được tình cảm mình có đủ lớn để quay về hay không. Mình vẫn cảm thấy buồn một cách hạnh phúc mỗi khi nhớ nhung về những con người ở quê hương, và Hà Nội của mình nữa.

Rồi mấy nghìn cây số mong nhớ đợi chờ của mình và Hà Nội thương, đến một lúc nào đó sẽ nở đẹp như một đóa hoa khiến mình nao lòng không nỡ rời xa quá lâu.

Vấn đề chỉ là thời gian thôi..





Semiotic in Advertising

Greatest advertising goal is to create a bond within target audience and the restricting confines of a commercial ads. Semiotics is a solution for advertisers which promises to create the connotation between customers’ experience and the brand.

In nothing flat, there are a lot of brands using meaningful print ads to impress their target customers. It’s clear that the goal of branding ads is to drive sales by associating products and services to make customer’s experience and brand are virtually synonymous. I want to introduce you guys a successful print ad created by Olgivy.

The print ad is part of the “No More Abuse” campaign by the King Khalif Foundation, an official charity set up in memory of an earlier 1970s monarch. The purpose of this campaign was against domestic violence in Saudi Arabia. I would like to ‘read’ this print ad in 3 dimensions: its denotation, connotation and myth around it.

Firstly, the print ad illustrates a women in a niqab with a badly bruised eye staring into the camera attached with the message “some things can’t be covered”. The whole picture is covered by dark black except for the woman’s eyes.

In the connotation dimension, Fadi Saad, managing director of Memac Ogilvy in Riyadh had a comment on the print ad that: “The veil does not only hide women’s abuse, but it’s also a representation of the social veil behind which a lot of societal deficiencies hide”.

In another point of view, the print ad demonstrates the miserableness of Saudi Arabia’s women. The picture is covered by dark, it feel like there will be no way to escape and no hope for women’s right if we don’t take any action now. The suffering eyes contact can tell many things about women’s pain and strength. They get used to being abused but it doesn’t mean they do not try to fight for their right every single day.

In order to make this print ad more clarified, we should take a look at Saudi Arabia’s social situation. Saudi Arabia, a country which 16 to 50 percent wives suffer some kind of spusal abouse and its law does not criminalize domestic violence or spousal rape. Reporting about domestic violence somehow “may be seriously underreported”, according to the State Department report.

With predigous effort, the campaign has taking a big step in revoluting the authorities to support such a drive which given evolution in the country. There are many positive sign slowly appearing in Saudi Arabia. For instance, Saudi women competed in the Olympics for the first them or for the first time, King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the consultative Shura Council.

In conclusion, I belive that a meaningful print ad can change many thing in target customer’s belief, awareness or even action. The most important thing is how to create a print ad that is the bridge between the brand’s viewpoints and the target customer’s experience and belief.





Media audience through my lens

As a media maker, understanding our target audience is not only in order to create great content but also to achieve the results that you want by knowing your audiences and the question is “Is “Bobo doll” always true?”

First and foremost, I want to share my own experience as a media audience a year ago. During 2017, Vietnamese TV series had a popular drama: ‘Living with mother-in-law’ made by director Truong Khoa.

First of all, it’s necessary to understand why this movie was so hot. In Vietnam, there are a lot of prejudices about the mother-in-law, an irritating, aggressive or even cruel woman and “Living with mother-in-law” excellently built a character fit so well with that assumption.

The explosion of debating about mother-in-law topic somehow went too far, there were a lot of provoked stories about cruel mother-in-law uploaded on social media and young women felt scared of being married. Not until when I know about The Reception Theory which was produced during the 1970s and early 1980s, I was impressed by the media creators’ excellent manipulation. It’s not exaggerated to say that The Hypodermic theory was totally true when the Vietnamese audiences were too easy to be influenced and the media works were like a drug and the audiences were drugged.

In another point of view, I strongly believe that the confliction among the audiences’ mindsets is the key to make a topic popular. It’s clear that if the audience is too easy to agree with the message, then what’s next? They will accept it as a fact and no more discussion about it, the topic cannot be a hot topic appeared on social media. For example, at that time, Vietnamese audience felt like expressing their idea about “whether mother-in-law is that cruel?” or “Should young couple live with mother-in-law after married”.

Due to The Reception theory, the media audience will consider how a message is encoded and then decoded with their own perspective. There are 3 types of audience decoding, they may be dominant, negotiated or oppositional since their different experience, belief, gender or even their current mood. And I think the greatness of one producer is to have the ability to make audience share their thoughts in order to fulfil their messages.

To sum up, understanding media audience is to know how active they are and how can we use their decoding to make producers’ message well-known and understood, not to manipulate people’s thoughts.