“Daishi-san,” 25, got fired from a part-time job four months ago. “That’s it,” he decided; “I’ll never work again.” He does okay, though. Ask him his profession and he has a ready answer: “I’m a new-generation NEET.”
NEET stands for “not in education, employment or training.” Put bluntly, it means doing nothing. Idled youth was an offshoot of the “hiring ice age” that characterized the two-decade-long recession that set in in the mid-1990s. Companies simply weren’t hiring. Young people graduated from college into a work world that had no place for them. Low-paying, dead-end part-time jobs were the best many could do – with consequences still with us as that generation advances, bitter, unfulfilled and poor, into middle- and old-age. Those who took the part-time jobs for lack of anything better were called “freeters.” Those who refused to stoop to that all too often became NEETs – living, for the most part, off their parents.
NEETs were a major social issue through the 2000s. Then the economy recovered somewhat, and media attention shifted elsewhere. Now, says Spa! (Jan 14-21), here come the neo-NEETs.
Descended from their predecessors, they nonetheless differ from them. Daishi is not living off his parents. He’s self-supporting. How does he do it? He lives – and is by no means alone in doing so, if Spa! has its finger accurately on the pulse – on “other people’s money.”
It’s an art. Daishi’s mastered it. His followers on Twitter number some 700. That’s not impressive, by social media standards, but considering the obligation he imposes on them, it’s remarkable, even astonishing. The obligation is that they support him.
Why would they? Partly, maybe, it’s the respect that boldness naturally inspires. Someone self-confident to that degree may well be worth knowing. “I myself could never do it,” you might think; “why not encourage someone who can?”
It’s not only that, though. His vow never to work again actually meant never to be regularly employed. Odd jobs are another matter. He’s a self-described “rent-a-NEET.” He’ll do for you what needs doing, whatever you want, the pay to be left up to you. He’s weeded gardens, been a photo model and a voice actor; he cleans share houses in lieu of rent. Want to go drinking but not alone? He’ll drink with you – in straight bars or gay, as you prefer. Sometimes it’s a question of, “I’ll give you three hours of my time, whatever you want me to do in return for whatever you give me.” The computer he uses for tweeting and blogging was procured that way.
Mr “Pro-ogorareya,” 21, has chosen a similar path. The name he uses means pro as in professional, plus the verb “to be treated.” Treat me to a living, is his invitation in effect, and he, too, gets by, it seems, more than adequately. Instead of odd jobs, he puts out an email magazine that draws paying subscribers. His subject, of course, is his life on “other people’s money.” His followers treat him to meals, drinks. They ask him, “This is how you live?” He replies, “Sure.” He must be a very good conversationalist.
He sounds like one. Spa! asks him how he explains his success. He says, “People who have money have lots of it. Tastes have diversified. The means to satisfy them proliferate – to such an extent that the mere possession of things no longer gives the pleasure it used to. One alternative is to support interesting lifestyles” – like his.
That may be fine at 25 and 21, but is there a future in it? We’ll just have to wait and see.© Japan Today