By Saori Hirosawa
With Covid-19 dealing a fatal blow to the economy, the information superhighway has provided a gateway for individuals and businesses in creatively responding to the crisis. Tokyo-based millennials have been particularly active in adapting to the pandemic, exemplified in several noteworthy trends online.
Dating in the Age of Corona
Among the earliest services to adjust to the new reality of social distancing are online dating apps, or ‘matching/konkatsu (spouse-hunting) apps’ as they’re commonly referred to in Japan. Calls for people to ‘stay (at) home’ and avoid unnecessary contact forced such services to add new functions that allow users to, quite literally, go online dating and court persons of interest without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Pairs, a popular domestic dating app, allows you to go on ‘video dates’ with matches
As a result, dating apps saw an upward trend in usage as the pandemic kicked off earlier this year. This can also be explained by a variety of other factors, with remote working allowing for more spare time, as well as a possible increase in the number of ‘corona-breakups’.
As Japan’s ‘lockdown’ came to an end in June, select dating apps ran campaigns to encourage users to go on dates in restaurants and bars as a means to stimulate demand for the hospitality industry, a sector especially hit hard by the pandemic. Dine, a dating app that cleverly suggests dining spots for meetups, began promoting restaurants that have instituted social distancing to protect its customers.
‘Support our restaurants by going on dates!’
The way users engage with such services have also evolved. Not being pressured to immediately arrange meetups has made the process of using such apps less stressful. Covid-19 has thus brought about changes to modern courtship rituals as more people get used to ‘building up’ potential dates through pre-arranged online phone-calls.
Online as a Refuge for the Jobless
As unemployment rates grow, YouTube has witnessed a somewhat endearing trend of people posting videos of themselves narrating their experiences losing their jobs. Contents vary, with some recounting budget meals they cobbled together from their savings while others discuss the challenges of job-hunting in the current climate.
‘…and then I became unemployed’
[My House, Money, Job] I’ll tell you the truth about me / Living alone in Tokyo
by マイカフェ【My cafe*】
Published May 23, 2020
Although monetized videos allow posters to earn a portion of the ad-revenue, only a small handful truly make it as a full-time YouTuber. And today, even established YouTubers face stiff competition, from the swath of TV celebrities who have entered the market in the past year. In their attempts to ‘go viral’, YouTube perhaps provides unemployed posters with a seemingly familiar, yet narrow, attempt at building another career.
Subscriptions to Online Vocational Schools Soar
One particular service has especially grown from all the spare time gained from remote work and job-loss: online vocational schools.
SHElikes, a ‘career school’ targeting women in their 20s and 30s, doubled their number of students when they moved all their classes online. As one of those who started ‘attending’ the school three months ago, I myself have been impressed by the amount of opportunities provided to interact with tutors and other students, despite the online setting. One student stated that she ‘wanted to acquire new skills to increase my employability after losing my job with Covid’, while another professed her goal of ‘levelling up to start a business on the side from the spare time gained from not having to commute’.
This experience reflects a much wider trend. According to a survey conducted in May to women in their teens to their 30s asking what they did while they stayed at home, 20% pointed to ‘education’. Although a crisis of massive proportions, the occasion was exploited by many young people for productive pursuits.
The Covid Crisis as an Opportunity
Businesses and consumers alike, the economic impacts of the pandemic has forced everyone to adapt and evolve. Upon reflecting on the present crisis, the Japanese have displayed a strong sense of initiative and flexibility as they’re increasingly place in a tight corner. Although generally seen to be conforming to the wider collective, Japanese millennials have also taken matters to their own hands, whether by posting videos on YouTube or by acquiring new skills. In the age of ‘with Corona’, online trends as the zeitgeist of young people might inevitably come to determine the shape of things to come for Japan’s economy.
Saori is dedicated to the smooth running of project work by supporting client-communications and internal translations with her excellent English skills, which she acquired as a student in the US. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from UCLA, where she became drawn to this field after becoming an assistant researcher for a lab studying human interaction and physiological reactions to conversation. With her recent work experience as a data processor for a Japanese quantitative market research company, she also contributes to quantitative outputs. Saori hails from Akita, which is famous for its different varieties of festivals. It is this love of traditional culture, that keeps her travelling around Japan festival hopping.