A restaurant chef rubs a raw chicken vigorously over the floor, then tosses it into the fry pan. Another, at another restaurant, fishes sushi he’s preparing out of a trash can. A third, in a third establishment, blows tobacco smoke into the cooking pot. Somewhere else we see someone washing dishes with a toilet scrubber.
You can do a lot of damage in a 10-second video. What would a past or potential customer think of such goings-on unfolding in clear sight of the restaurant’s logo? “I’ll never eat there!”
Social media is awash in clips like these. What prompts employees to post them? Malice? Revenge for low pay and long hours? Shukan Shincho (Feb 21) doesn’t think so – doesn’t even raise the possibility. The root problem in its view is that “Japan has lost its morality.”
It’s stupidity rather – moral stupidity – rather than malice. Young people at any time are liable to behave irresponsibly. But in Shukan Shincho’s view, the current generation is plumbing new depths.
It all started in the dreadfully hot summer of 2013. Activity slowed to a crawl, boredom hung as heavy as the humidity – at which point a video of a supermarket employee sprawled in an ice cream freezer went viral. Well, here was something to do! Employees nationwide – part-timers for the most part, often students on summer break – took up the challenge. Who could pull the most outrageous stunts, flummox their employers the most, score the most” likes?” Some, their identities unconcealed, found themselves in trouble with their universities. Some were suspended.
The summer ended and the craze died down, flaring up again from time to time but soon fizzling. Now it’s raging again, more intense than ever – for two particular reasons, Shukan Shincho finds.
First is the vast proliferation of smartphones over the past four years. Anyone can post anything anytime, at minimal expense. Secondly, the yutori kyoiku generation has reached its mischief-making prime – the late teens.
Yutori kyoiku (relaxed education) is a concept that took root around 2002. It was a response to what then seemed a crisis. School was too demanding, intense, competitive – too much of a drill and a grind, a force-feeding that filled the mind without nourishing it, exhausted kids without giving them anything in return except possibly good marks, if they didn’t lose their sanity and moral compass in the “exam hell,” as more than a few did. Yutori kyoiku would slow things down, emphasize creative thinking over rote memorization, allow leisure for individual activities other than studying.
A few years went by, and the experiment was pronounced a failure. Test scores had declined. Global competitiveness, it was feared, was being lost. Yutori kyoiku was scrapped. Now we’re back where we started – but the yutori generation, smartphones in hand, social networking sites numerous and receptive, has hit the late teens and is primed for action. Yutori kyoiku was more than an educational disaster, Shukan Shincho says – it was a moral disaster as well. Discipline went slack. Self-discipline never budded. In an online climate where the more shocking the posts the more they are “liked” and retweeted, there is no restraint. It’s open season. Such are Shukan Shincho’s fears.
“When we hire students as part-time kitchen staff,” a restaurant manager tells the magazine, “we forbid them to bring smartphones onto the premises, and we make them sign a pledge not to disclose company information online.”
Good luck with that.© Japan Today