This recent New York Times article reveals how there are fewer than two million Facebook users in Japan; that is less than 2% of the country’s online population. Considering this is the same technologically advanced land that brought us Nintendo, the Walkman and the Prius, why haven’t their interests trended along with the rest of the Facebook-ing world?
The main reason seems to be cultural. Japanese people are intensely private, preferring keeping their personal lives to themselves. Meanwhile, our Facebook feeds are filled with relationship statuses, weekend plans, and photos from vacations, and these are the exact things that are unappealing to Japanese users. There are established social networking sites in Japan such as Mixi, which boasts more than 20 million users, but you are able to set up profiles using a pseudonym, never revealing your true identity.
In the article, 26-year-old Mixi user Maiko Ueda said: “I don’t want to give it my real name. What if strangers find out who you are? Or someone from your company?” Considering that this just happened, she has a point.
So, Facebook has a daunting task in Japan — to overcome centuries of cultural tradition. But, perhaps it isn’t that Japan is too conservative. In fact, I admire the value they put on privacy. Maybe we’re all just a bunch of egomaniacal oversharers. Thoughts?