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Combating the Ore-Ore-ism Virus

Tatsuyuki Kamio
Professor, Waseda University Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences

I have heard that many young people are involved in ore-ore (it's me) frauds (grandparent scams, telephone scams preying on the elderly) in Japan. In addition to having the (dubious) ability to pretend to be someone by using a false name just like using an online name, you also need to have the "ability" to care only about yourself in order to defraud the elderly out of large amounts of money-"abilities" which these youngsters obviously possess in abundance. However, there are quite a few young people who are fragile or get too emotional over a little misunderstanding and run off into their rooms when they must face others with their real names without media such as phones and the Internet. Students must share the same space with many others at college lectures, and express their opinions and coordinate opinions with their classmates at seminars. In fact, there are increasingly many students who are unable to come to campus. Here, let us call the phenomenon where self-aggrandizement (ore, as in me), and self-atrophy (ore, as in break, or bend), are inextricably linked, ore-ore-ism.

As researchers and as educators, I feel that we are obliged to not only teach academic subjects, but to also protect our students from this ore-ore-ism virus. In order to address these two duties simultaneously, I made some adjustments in how I give seminar classes.

I started to cooperate with another teacher on the same faculty in giving a seminar class for specialized courses. Specifically, two seminar classes held by two teachers, one for juniors and another for seniors, have been combined. In other words, it is a combination of four seminars. It comprises two consecutive ninety-minute sessions, where seniors and juniors, as well as two teachers, are present for about three hours. I will introduce two of the adjustments that I have made with the aim of protecting the students from the ore-ore-ism virus.

At the seminar, which we call the joint seminar, we have appointed students to act as coordinators in addition to those who are to be presenters. The responsibilities of the coordinators vary depending on the speakers' plans, but the responsibilities of the moderators of announcements and discussions are minimal. However, most of the members of the seminar class provide the speakers with support from the preliminary stages of preparation. Their support ranges from gathering data to checking presentation resumes and PowerPoint files, playing the role of the audience at presentation rehearsals, and accompanying the speakers on visits to their instructors for pre-presentation consultations. All this is very beneficial to the speakers, and coordinators can also get to know the methodology of presentation through their interactions with those concerned. Furthermore, coordinators have juniors and seniors work together so skills acquired at the seminar classes can be passed down to their juniors and seminar members do not have to start from scratch every year. As a result, the skills of the members drastically increase every year. The greatest advantage of assigning coordinators is how a give-and-take relationship is established as a result of the speakers who were helped by the coordinators serving as coordinators for other speakers. Not only have they made new friends, but they have also built lasting relationships of mutual support, the value of which they could not have fully understood simply by hearing this hackneyed phrase from their instructors.

The other adjustment that has been made in the joint seminar is the virtual bulletin boards. On these bulletin boards, participants in the actual seminar class add posts concerning matters such as issues that they feel were not thoroughly discussed, information that they would like to expand on, and skills and attitudes that they feel should be recognized at the end of the ninety-minute class consisting of presentations and discussions. When speakers write their seminar papers at the end of the term, they can refer to the opinions posted on the bulletin boards concerning their own presentations, thereby making corrections in any leaps of logic or deviations from the real issues that they find, make their opinions more persuasive with the extra data, and so on. The members of the seminar can enjoy the same benefits of the give-and-take spirit as the coordinators through this bulletin board. This system, of course, cannot be maintained if students who think only about themselves rule the class. However, speakers do not get discouraged during discussions because they have coordinators standing right behind them.

These bulletin boards are also used in seminar classes for freshmen. One student wrote, "Since individual activity has become a way of life for me during my solitary life as a prep school student, I now have to do things in class that are just the opposite of what I'm used to. And the pressure is giving me anxiety attacks!" on the bulletin board. Young people are faced with the issue of capacity just before entering college and when they graduate. This is during their entrance exams and when they go job hunting. This is the same as with airplane rides in that they have to try to get on board as soon as they can because the number of seats is limited. Even though we may know that offering your own seat to someone else is a beautiful thing to do, it is just not done in this situation. It is only natural for individualism to become "a way of life." That is why a post-individualistic way of life causes pressure and "anxiety."

This, however, does not mean that the desire to feel a sense of unity with everyone has completely gone away. Extraordinarily many members of the joint seminar mentioned above often go out together for drinks or participate in training camps. They still have the will to break free from the chains of individualism and have fun with everyone else. If student life has been a positive experience full of wonderful memories not only for our seminars graduates but for many graduates of the University as well, then this is probably because transcending individualism has miraculously become a possibility for them during these four years.

However, transcending individualism will not be a merit enjoyed only by university students anymore in the twenty-first century, where the post-achievement-oriented criteria are replacing the achievement-oriented criteria in personnel evaluation systems. It is by no means uncommon for a person who has come out the only winner to have found success in large part due to support from many people without even knowing it, for better or worse. In today's world, to pass over countless other people that you are not aware of and be the only one to consume necessities like energy and food is just impossible. The day where conversing and sharing with others is not just a matter of ethics but also a necessity for survival will surely come soon.

Yet, in my experience, you cannot get through to most young people by simply explaining to them the need for transcending individualism with an ideological approach. If you try to instill moral lessons in their minds as mere instructions and orders, they will forget them in no time at all. That is why the university needs to find a way to get young people to embrace transcending individualism of their own volition rather than forcing it on them. We need a way to get the students to see how rewarding the principle of transcending individualism actually is. Finally, the modest conclusion of this article is that the cycle where the process of post-individualism is continuously given feedback from expansions of the individual's capabilities-as the coordinators of the joint seminar and bulletin do-is an effective antibody to the ore-ore-ism virus.

Tatsuyuki Kamio
Professor, Waseda University Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences

Professor of the Waseda University Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences. Specializes in bodily representation and culturology. Recent works include "Veil / Phallus - A Story about the Desire for the Truth" (Brucke, 2005), "To Wear-Far Beyond Superficial Play" (Suiseisha, 2007; coauthor), "Schriftlichkeit und Bildlichkeit" (Wilhelm Fink, 2007; coauthor).