The Keitai Effect

We all know about the contagious power of yawns…

One only needs to start yawning in the middle of a crowd to get everybody else yawning in return. This can actually be quite fun if you suddenly decide to fuck with people’s head and discreetly yawn at people during some large meeting (I know, it sounds really stupid – it is – but try it one day, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll get the whole room yawning).

In Japan, though, there’s a much more interesting variation on that theme: Cell Phone fidgeting.

Anybody who’s lived in Tokyo will have no doubt told you about the principal characteristic of the average Japanese commuter: an uncanny ability to instantaneously fall asleep as soon as they hit a train seat, doubled with an instinctive knowledge of when to wake up, the very second their train hits their stop home.

Most of the time, though, they are not really sleeping: merely building that legendary Japanese force shield of indifference around them. Western people tend to do the same, but they need a book or a cd-player to help them fake complete absorption in their own world… Japanese do not… they just seat, half-close their eyes and doing so, ostensibly tell everyone they do not care what happens in the car until their destination. Guy next to them wanking on his tentacle porn manga, leecherous salaryman gawking at them from across the car, passenger falling asleep and drooling on their shoulder: nothing will wake up the Japanese commuter.

Except for one thing…

いつでも電車でケイタイを使ってメールを書けって始めったらみんなさんもケイタイを使って始める。この前に何もしなかったでも、忽ち真似でケイタイをするの。とりわけ女の子。
どうしたの?
Keitai competition.

Try and consider it a scientifically proven fact. If your results do not match mine, I’m ready to post a public retraction.

When sitting close enough to a Japanese female (age 12 to 35 for the sake of our experiment) on a subway or train, suddenly whip out your cell phone and start typing at it randomly (whether you are actually sending a mail, checking pictures or just browsing meaningless menu items has no importance whatsoever).

If said Japanese female does not, within less than 30 seconds, take out her own keitai and start frenetically typing on it, contact me and you are entitled to a free shot of sake, courtesy of UnknownGenius Inc. bottomless business account (provided, of course, you can bring photographic evidence of your claim… you don’t think I’m that naive, now, do you).

It is one of the latest unexplained scientific law of this century that Japanese women (and sometimes even men, let’s be fair) just cannot be seen next to a person that seemingly has a use of his/her phone without giving the impression they do too. That old “hey wait, I got friends too!” cry from the heart…

Somewhat ties in with that Mainichi poll I remember reading, where the number-one cause for public shame, according to the group of Japanese teenage girls sampled, was: “when everybody else in your group gets a call on their keitai and you don’t”.

I guess it ranks even worse on the humiliation scale if the unshaven gaijin next to you seems to be getting some keitai action while you are not. Which is why typing a mail on my cellphone invariably wakes up every single female in a 10 feet radius and sends them scrambling for their own phone in order to expedite some crucial matters they had all but forgotten up until that point…

Try it, you’ll see…

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