An Online Presence

Mar 19,2014

A few months ago I was enjoined to offer advice to a that section of the ruling bureaucracy that deals with the English names of places on street signs so that they could change certain phrasings to make them more comprehensible to English-only visitors. This is something we could have done in a meeting hall with an Internet connection, but instead we traveled physically to each sign in question to look at it up close and read what it said. This was done in the rain, under umbrellas, with national mass media following us with cameras, and I was interviewed by a certain television station and my justifications for the suggestions I made were broadcast all over the prefecture. I don't know how I appeared in the interview because I didn't watch it.

Now, I don't usually do this, but last night something inspired me to do an ego search in katakana to see what horrible things people are saying about me on the Internet. Lo and behold, nearly every hit was a reference to my thoughts on how to the names of Yonago's establishments should be rendered in English. I'm not going to provide any links because all of them are basically the same. There are lots of message boards with quotes from me and readers' reactions to them. Why people are so interested in what I think about such matters, I do not know.

Incidentally, in the same absolutely unproductive session of surfing through mostly useless information on the Great Web, I happened to see some pictures of white dudes with young Japanese women. None of the people in the pictures were doing anything lewd or sketchy, but the furor in response to them was ugly. Hordes of Japanese men posted threats directed toward the men in the pictures, and it made me kind of leery. I did a quick search to make sure no pictures of me in a mostly-female group were online. I couldn't find any, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. It's true, of course, that you can't please everyone, but just for the sake of a peaceful existence in society it would seem to be best to avoid being photographed in the presence of young women if it's so liable to be misinterpreted. It's scary because there are often people around with cameras, and lots of people who for some reason want to have their picture taken with me. I usually refuse, but there are also people taking snapshots on the sly so that I find out later that everyone knows where I had dinner the night before because they saw it on Facebook.

Nonetheless, I do try to keep my online presence to a minimum. I don't suppose I can go on hiding forever, with the increasing capabilities of bots and government agencies collecting and spewing out bits of data all over the world. Avoiding expressing strong opinions on a blog might be a help, but that isn't going to happen.

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