This is another diary entry that I wrote in January or February but didn't post until now. I apologize for the delay...
I had a kind of sad conversation the last day I was in Japan.
One of Mugi’s human friends - Ogawa-san - dropped by the house to say “hi” and to bring some sticky rice (sekihan) that she had made for Mugi and me. (Delicious! Thank you Ogawa-san!)
Ogawa-san is an older woman, maybe around 80 years old (human years), who lives nearby with her daughter and grandchildren, and somehow we started talking about how crazy everyone seems to be for “technology” in Japan. I mentioned to her that when I ride Japanese trains or buses, no one seems to talk to anybody and instead they spend their time staring into the tiny screens of their mobile phones - playing games, reading comics, or who knows what else. I think it’s becoming more like this in the United States too, but it’s not as much as what I saw in Japan.
Mrs. Ogawa agreed - she told me that many Japanese parents really want their children to “succeed” in life so they make computers available to their children as early as possible. She said it’s even common nowadays for babies to know how to control a computer (using graphical interfaces and hand gestures) before they’ve even learned to walk or talk. Just the day before, she had seen her youngest grandchild, who is isn’t even a year old yet, crawl to the TV in their living room and start swiping at the screen with her tiny hands in an attempt to control it like it’s a big tablet computer.
At first I thought this was just a cute baby story until Mrs. Ogawa became very serious and said to me that while the baby already wants to use computers, she herself doesn’t know how to use one at all. Of course all her other grandchildren already know how to use computers and so she feels bad that she can’t help them with computers. She even told me that her grandchildren think that Grandma is worthless because they know how to use computers and she doesn’t.
To be honest, this really shocked me, and I could see that Ogawa-san felt sad and hurt by this.
Isn’t it strange how when you meet someone and you don’t know something they know, sometimes they’ll start treating you as if you’re a newbie, ignorant, clueless, a lower intellectual being? Why wouldn’t they assume that you just know many other things instead? Because really, in your whole life, have you ever met anyone that didn’t know an infinite number of important things that you don’t?