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A shrinking life: Why some Asian youth withdraw from the world

Kittens Are Jerks

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A shrinking life: Why some Asian youth withdraw from the world

Charlie was 15 when his life inexplicably shrank to fit within the frame of his lower bunk bed in his family's cramped Hong Kong apartment.

“I felt very depressed, confused, like I didn’t know what I wanted,” said Charlie, who’s now 19 and still learning how to navigate the world outside.

Charlie is among millions of hikikomori, a Japanese term for people who cut themselves off from society, sometimes for months or years – often Gen Z and Millennials in the prime of their youth.

The phenomenon first emerged in Asia, and is particularly well-documented in Japan – but similar stories are surfacing in other parts of the world including the United States, Spain and France.


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