Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, September 27, 2021

smooth sailing
This shouldn’t come as any surprise: Tattoo adornment above the collar and cuffs is slowly gaining more social acceptance.

The day when most businesses are blasé about visible tattoos on employees seems a ways off. But then, it is only relatively recently that tattoo artists were comfortable inking neck and hands.

“In the old days tattooists wouldn’t do it,” said Bob Baxter, the editor of the tattoo journal Skin & Ink. “There are 528 shops in New York and maybe 10 won’t do it now.”

Necks and hands, said Joshua Lord, an owner of East Side Ink on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, were the last taboo. Now it is common for customers to seek them, he said. “Before it was people in industries that are forgiving,” he said, meaning principally music or art. “But recently I’ve done them for doctors and funeral directors and teachers, and a lot of hairdressers,” who use hand tattoos as conversation starters, he said.

Count me out of this creeping body-inkage. For better or for worse, I maintain an old-fogyish attitude toward tattooing: Regardless of who’s sporting the body art, it strikes me as low-class even when well-done, and thus is a distinct turn-off. It was bad enough when the tats were strategically hidden on the torso or upper limbs; now that they’re migrating to the neck, ears, palms, and fingers, it’s harder and harder to hide my distaste.

But, as one of the above article’s subjects noted, it’s almost becoming more mainstream to have a tattoo than to not have one. I think that’s a bit forest-for-the-trees, but the trending is probably moving in that direction. If so, I look forward to the distinction that’ll come with being well outside the mainstream.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/27/2008 07:18:19 PM
Category: Fashion, Society
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Often it seem like the World Wide Web was tailor-made for Americans, given our tendencies toward self-promotion. Highlighting the cultural differences across the Pacific, Japanese users balance online savviness with more circumspection:

YouTube is wildly successful here, but rare is the user who follows the site’s enticement to “Broadcast Yourself.” Posting pet videos is far more popular, and has bred a generation of animal celebrities.

On large matchmaking sites like Match.com the whole point is to open up and meet strangers. But fewer than half of Match’s paying members in Japan are willing to post their photos, compared with nearly all members in the U.S.

Welcome to Japan’s online social scene, where you’re unlikely to meet anyone you don’t know already. The early promises of a new, open social frontier, akin to the identity-centric world of Facebook and MySpace in the U.S., have been replaced by a realm where people stay safely within their circles of friends and few reveal themselves to strangers…

The penchant for invisibility has made it hard for Western social networks to establish themselves. Belated forays into the Japanese market by Facebook Inc. and News Corp.’s MySpace, for instance, have failed to generate much of a buzz.

But this was an evolution, because at first, Japanese were just as wide-open online as Americans. The example of mixi, Japan’s biggest social networking site, is instructive:

When mixi was launched in early 2004, many people registered with their own names and photos.

“It was all friends, or friends-of-friends, so you could easily search using real names, and it was easy to be found,” [Internet beat writer Tetsuya] Shibui says.

But mixi quickly grew in popularity, and was heavily featured in the media as it sped toward a public stock offering in 2006. New members can join only with invitations from existing users, but some people began to send out invites randomly. The circle-of-friends concept was broken, and existing users began to lock their profiles and withdraw behind anonymous user names.

So the less mixi got truly personal — i.e., with an offline social component to match up with the online — the more turned off users got. None of the artificial, online-only friend-ing that practically define MySpace and Facebook.

Maybe this indicates a similar shift among American social network members in the future? Doubtful, as people on this side of the Pacific seem more at ease with wholly digital relationships. If anything, the next shift likely will be to whatever the next-generation aggregation sites come along, probably offering some enhanced level of communication (think effortless audio/video communication versus the traditional keyboard typing). Even more openness, albeit based on cyber-ether.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/27/2008 05:59:31 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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