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This paper is a life voice story of a person in a particular marginalized group, here I call this group of people, Hong Kong Otaku. Otaku has been a popular term in Japan which refers to a particular group of people who obsess in Japanese animation and in any particular hobby. Nowadays, this word has a negative connotation linked to Hong Kong male who spend a lot of time at home and are obsessive about video games, online game, animation, etc.
Mr. A is a 27-year old adult working as an Information Technology Assistant (I.T Assistant) in a primary school. He did not pass his HKCEE. His education background is up to Form 5. He is a person who does not speak all the time; indeed he is talkative in front of computer. Since he does not talk too much face to face. Thus, I use instant messenger MSN to approach him in order to interview him.
In this rapidly growable economics society, lack of qualification is nearly equal to lack of career choices opportunities, i.e. lack of essential communication skills also narrow a persons opportunities on seeking job.
Lack of essential communication skills
Whenever I walk pass Mr. As desk, there is always few MSN dialogue box on his computer screen. He rarely speaks to people but when people ask him questions, he answers, absolutely give a person an ANSWER only! However he is totally different when using MSN. We had few times MSN interview. Here is one of our conversations. The original conversations were in Chinese because his English is not good enough. (See appendix for original msn conversation) The low education background might lead to unconfident as well as lack of communication skills.
Natalie: You dont seems like speaking with others at work. Do you?
Mr. A: I am not dislike speaking with others. I just have nothing much to say at work. They are not my friends. People around are my colleagues only. And I am talking with you now.
Natalie: Oh right. But on MSN only.
Mr. A: No I talk to you at work too. :D
Natalie:That was only answering. I asked you how I could fix the pop up box.
Mr A: So I did talk to you. ^^
Natalie: haha you can say so
Mr A: haha! ^^
Mr A: What are you studying again? Is it your final paper?
Natalie: haha, I dont even remember what I am studying. Something about Communication and English. We dont have final paper. We have many different courses and we have to write paper on each course.
From the above conversations, Mr. A is more willing to speak through MSN. He uses many emotion symbols or icons to show his friendly side. Also he asked me questions, unlike when he is at work giving answer only. Although he claims that he does not talk much because people at work are not friends, it might still affect the team cooperation. In this case, he is an I.T assistant whom his responsibility is fixing computer and set up equipments. He does not involve too much interaction with people. Thus, he can still survive in this working environment. However it is hard for him to find another job or have further promotion. Unless he is satisfy on what he has.
Lack of career opportunities
As mentioned, lack of communication skills will lead to lack of career opportunity. In Hong Kong, the society request good communication skill in most of the field. According to the Sunday Report on March 15, 2009, it mentioned the 8 Hong Kong universities have higher proportion in female students than male students. Also female has the advantages of studying in languages and communication. Many fields also require good English as well. For example, marketing, public relationship, bank, etc. Compare with male in Hong Kong, female in Hong Kong really has a better opportunity than male because of the high education and communication skill.
Mr. A spends a lot of time on computer games and chat online. I know him for 2 years. He gets online on time everyday when he arrives home.
Natalie: Hey, how many years have you been working here?
Mr. A: 4 years. Why?
Natalie: Have you ever thought about changing job?
Mr. A: Yes.
Natalie: What kind of job?
(Waited for 10 minutes)
Natalie: There? What are you doing??
Mr. A: Yes Sorry! Playing AOE
Mr. A: I dont know. I am not interested in anything. I told you before that I dont even pass my HKCEE. 10K of salary is very good to me already.
Natalie: o AOE again? Seems like everytime I talk to you, you are playing online game or AOE.
Mr. A: No, I was watching PPS last night.
Natalie: Are you satisfied of what you have right now?
Mr. A: What do you mean of satisfy? Salary?
Natalie: Yes, Salary.
Mr. A: 10K is enough for me. I have enough money for family and I can also save some.
Natalie: Whoa, you can even save money. What if you get married later on. Do you think it is enough for you to support the whole family?
Mr. A: Haha, I dont need to go school. Why not? I dont go out very often. I only spend on my transportation and lunch sometimes. I dont even think about study that much like you.
Natalie: What if you go out with girlfriend? If you have girlfriend, you have to spend a lot like watching movie, dinner, etc.
Mr. A: Hahaa, I dont have a girlfriend. Are you going to be my girlfriend?
Natalie: haha Your joke is not funny.
From the conversations above, I assume Mr. A has no intention to change his current job due to his low education. In fact, he does not have many choices for him to choose in his career. On the other hand, he thinks that 10K of salary is enough to support the whole family which is not realistic enough. He only needs to support his parents at this moment. However if he get married in the future, 10K might not enough to support a family with kids assumed that his wife does not go to work. It also implies that he is not confident enough because he mentioned he does not pass HKCEE. He knew that it is hard for him to find a high salary job. The reason why he likes playing online games and chat online because virtual world is hard to show a person real identity. People can create another identity in order to build up some confidence and get some satisfactions, for example playing online games like AOE. AOE is an online war game. According to his Facebooks photos albums and his online activities, I found that he likes photography, especially likes taking photos for his animation figures of Dragon Ball. He likes receiving comments from others as well.
Hong Kong male are being stereotyped that the communication skill is weaker than female. Male is good at Mathematics and computer only. Female are good at learning languages. Due to the low education background and bad communication skill, some male also are being commented negatively as Hong Kong Otaku because the characteristic of Otaku is weak on communication and obsess on virtual world. While this type of people is unconfident, they try to seek satisfaction from other activities. For example they obsess in online war games. People like Mr. A with low education and unconfident know their own problem but they reject to change will gather together. They even know that they are being called as Hong Kong Otaku, but they dont care and not even being bothered. According to TVB Sunday Report on March 15, 2009, it mentioned that there were more than 300, 000 male spend more than 6 hours on web surfing, playing online games, and reading comics, etc. Some people claim that this kind of obsessive with virtual world creates a particular Hong Kong style of Otaku. This is one of the reason that why Hong Kong male are weak on communicating with others. Mr. A spends few hours online everyday. He said the first thing he would do when he arrived home was turn on the computer and MSN. He usually arrived home at 7pm. except one hour of dinner and half an hour of showering, he sits in front of computer most of the time until around 12 am. When he is on holiday, he spends the whole day at home with his computer. He mentioned that people labeled him as Hong Kong Otaku, but he doesnt really care about that. He said he does enjoy the life he has right now.
Mr. A has a low education background. He knows that his communication skill is not good enough but he has no desire to study again because he is quite satisfying of what he has right now. However based on what he said, it implies that he is actually lack of confident because of his inferiors. He seeks for satisfaction though virtual world. Living in virtual world can help one to hide his or her real identity. On the other hand, his education background and communication skill limited his career opportunity; moreover, the Hong Kong Otaku stereotyping and being commented negatively causing more hidden problems on him or this particular group of people whom with low education and weak communication skill became their disadvantages in this society. If he continues living in the virtual word longer, he would become a real Otaku. Since the society has been changing too fast, if he does not equip himself and keep using MSN to communicate with others, he would be eliminated through this competitive world in the future. However, I do not agree with the term of Hong Kong Otaku. There is a trend that many male are tending to focus on this kind of life but all these negative comments about them will lead them to behave more negatively. The society should do more consultation and supports for this particular group of people instead of just negatively commend them. The main focus should be on how to help them.