On Second Thought, Let’s Not Japan

By Dominique Flemings

I love the internet. In my high school, I was one of the first kids to have an AIM account, email address, etc. I was a child of the nineties, and when I bought my first computer (an ancient HP now serving as dust trap somewhere in my parent’s basement), it became official. The internet has always been a portal to friends and family, and especially now so that I live halfway around the world. Thanks to it, I’ve been able to be part of Christmas mornings with my family through Skype, watch videos of my nine year-old cousin’s karate belt tests, and, most recently, fulfill my goal of writing in a blog.

But with such potential for good comes an equal potential for abuse. Private information or pictures an individual may not want the world to see can be posted in the most overt manner on Facebook or MySpace. Gossip and rumors spread like wildfire and obtain the status of facts before their subjects even have the chance to rebut them. Today, however, I’d like to focus on a particular misuse of the internet: the revenge blog. Specifically, Let’s Japan.

Let’s Japan is the blog of “Chris and Shawn,” two former English teachers from GEOS who became unsatisfied with the company and decided to do something about it. Rather than act like responsible human beings and address their grievances accordingly, they instead started Let’s Japan, a childish, immature blog which has no doubt frightened off who knows how many potential English teachers from coming here to Japan. A short (which is all I can endure) excerpt from their introduction gives a good idea of the content within the site:

“Hey, kids! Welcome to our web site all about riding the gravy train in Japan. What’s that you say? I can make money just by existing, by simply showing up and speaking English?! Yep, you sure can! Our site is dedicated to all you carbon blobs out there. Learn how to tie a tie and nod your head thoughtfully and you’re in!”

This made the hairs on the back of my neck bristle. I’m not even an English teacher and I feel sufficiently insulted for the English teachers I know. While this introduction is tongue-in-cheek, the message behind it is echoed throughout the site and all its posts: English teachers here are a lower class and for the most part useless. Chris and Shawn may have had some genuine gripes with GEOS, but there is no need to drag every English teacher (and, to an extent, every foreigner) down to their level because they didn’t get their way.

The blog doesn’t seem to be just a revenge blog against GEOS, but Japan itself. If Chris and Shawn are so discontent living here, perhaps they ought to move back to their home countries – though no doubt they’ll find things they don’t like there, too. Anyone who has read my posts on this blog will know that one thing that gets on my nerves is foreigners who move here, decide that that they can’t find one thing they like about Japan, but refuse to move back home; instead, they choose to “remain and complain” and make the rest of us who do enjoy living here miserable. Even worse is that their bickering damages the reputation of other non-citizens here in Japan. Of course there are things wrong with Japan – just like there are things wrong with Canada, the U.S., etc. Proving the utopian nature of Japan has never been my goal – rather, my goal is to find the things that make the place great and capitalize them. Japan has its downsides, but nothing to merit the juvenile whining found on Let’s Japan.

You can imagine my disgust when I came across this particular article on Let’s Japan. In it, Shawn compares the Japanese people and culture to none other than the apes that populated Earth in Planet of the Apes. I was flabbergasted. Japan may not be heaven on earth, but it certainly doesn’t deserve such a contrast. Japan is truly what you make of it, and if what you make of it is that the people are dislikable since A) you can’t get a decent job because you aren’t fluent in kanji like your Japanese competitors, or B) that the Japanese can’t give you work that you can do in English because they themselves don’t know it (thanks to teachers like Chris and Shawn), then you will be disappointed. Or, perhaps you won’t be disappointed – you’ll have gotten exactly what you expected. Simply put, if you come here with a viable and unique set of skills and seek out work in which you can utilize those skills, then you will be content. If you hope the novelty of being a gaijin is enough of a résumé to land you your dream job, think again.

Chris and Shawn have so much time to complain about their life here and disparage their now deceased employer that one really has to wonder what it is they do for a living that allows them so much free time to beat a dead horse. One must assume that they have jobs of some sort to sustain themselves, but it can’t be anything too serious, given the amount of time they have to sling mud on Let’s Japan. I also have to wonder about the overall language and writing style – judging by articles such as this (read at your own discretion); something tells me that the folks at Let’s Japan spend more time practicing their bathroom humor and vulgarities than they do learning any useful business skills (not to mention, their spelling). They both remind me of some foul-mouthed loser I tended to avoid in high school. I wonder if the Let’s Japan duo tended to start food fights in the employee break room of GEOS.

Chris and Shawn seem to be one of the best examples of one of the first things to do when living in Japan: complain. First of all, it makes you, the complainer, unhappy. Second of all, it makes others who must listen to you unhappy. Thirdly, it discourages others from coming here and enjoying a truly wonderful lifestyle. Fourthly, it makes foreigners look like insolent idiots who come here to take up space and criticize everything they come into contact with. I do my best to avoid giving this impression, but if you meet someone who’s read Let’s Japan or a blog like it, it seems like they assume that you, too, are as immature as your gaijin cohorts, Chris and Shawn,

Chris and Shawn try to make themselves out to be two big shots who proved to be too good for GEOS, but if this is the case, I wonder why they took the job with GEOS in the first place – GEOS was known to be a low wage-paying institute, and a little research would have revealed this to Chris and Shawn. Never fear, however, for our two simian friends (returning to Shawn’s analogy) – they supposedly moved onto better career pastures… though I wonder how good the hours can be for those two if they have so much time for ranting on Let’s Japan. It’s said that a group chimpanzees, if given enough time at typewriters, would almost surely produce the works of William Shakespeare – I’m not so sure that they wouldn’t produce Let’s Japan first. Thumbs down to this website.

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~ by Japan Blog Review on October 17, 2010.

2 Responses to “On Second Thought, Let’s Not Japan”

  1. I had never heard of that site, but I’ve heard those sentiments expressed all over the internet by unhappy foreigners in Japan. It’s almost always people who went there as English teachers. What I find strange is how loud and visible they are on the web.

    Surely every country that people go to as English teachers has its problems, but you just don’t hear nearly as much about them. I haven’t heard that much bitching from teachers in Korea and China, and when was the last time you heard an English teacher complaining from Ecuador or Argentina? I used to think that the issue was mostly caused by low-skilled foreigners moving to Japan and never becoming fluent in the language (particularly kanji). But recently I’ve seen posts from people with advanced language skills who whine just as much. It seems like it’s just an attitude problem.

    What I find the worst is the people who go there for a year, return to their home country, and for years afterward continue complaining about how awful their time in Japan was to anyone who will listen, in real life or on the internet. And when people try to say something sensible to counter them, they are accused of being Japanophiles or apologists for Japanese culture.

  2. As a teacher on the JET Programme right now, I can happily say that it is shaping up to be one of the best and most interesting chapters of my whole life. I have been flown, cost-free, to a country that very few of the people I know have been/will come to. I get paid very well to do a job that I have no experience in, I am learning a second language (something I’ve always wanted to do) and I spend my weekends sampling the delights of the nomihodai and the karaoke bar. And some cultural stuff, obviously. Japan has given me so much, and it’s only right that I should work hard to give it something back.

    There are many people in my prefecture who share similar feelings to these two wondercocks, but I, and my other more optimistic teacher friends happily choose to stay well away from their negativity.

    I like to think that Chris and Shawn are doing us a favour; that they are keeping away the moaning, bitchy, pessimistic groaners that Japan and the JET Programme would rather stay at home, and that anyone with an iota of optimism can see that they are a poor, bitter pair, only to be pitied by those that will lead a statistically longer life.

    Bobby
    http://www.ramblinman.co.uk

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