Yesterday while I was browsing Instagram to distract myself from the grim reality of a packed Tokyo evening commute, an image of what was either a naked hedgehog or — far more likely — a man’s scrotum suddenly appeared on my phone screen.
There was a request to accept the image via AirDrop.
With no idea what to do but knowing the sender was watching for my reaction I made the most compelling gag face I could and jumped off the train as we pulled into a stop. Shocked, angry and with the image of a clammy ball sack etched into my memory, I came to the realization that I had been digitally flashed.
Relaying my story to friends after, I discovered that this was actually a laughably common experience. That’s right, the already deeply troubling issue of sexual perversion on trains in Japan had found a new, increasingly popular outlet: AirDrop. And it had a name! “AirDrop chikan,” sometimes known as “cyber chikan” — presumably for chikan (perverts) who don’t have iOS.
What exactly is AirDrop chikan?
AirDrop chikan is a phenomenon where somebody you don’t know tries to use Apple’s AirDrop function to send you a picture for kicks— sexual or otherwise. It only works if you have your bluetooth and Wi-Fi switched on, and your AirDrop is set to receiving from “Everyone.” Unfortunately, these happen to be pretty common settings for most of us, until someone sends you a zoomed in shot of their tea bags and you decide to get to know your settings better.
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