[Press Release] Society and Technological Advancement in Contemporary Japan | Digitalk #26
Fri, 15 Mar 2019 || By Admin CfDS

Yogyakarta, 14th March 2019 - The shifting of social norms and values brought by rapid changing in technology becomes an interesting topic to be portrayed on screen. There are communities which benefit from massive information exchange and technological advancement, but some do not have the power to do so. However, human will thrive by adapting in this era. It is the message shown in two movies screened on the first Digitalk series of movie screening and discussion at Convention Hall Fisipol UGM (14/3/2019). The two magnificent films were created by Inside Lens and NHK World-Japan, a documentary series featuring the works of international film makers in Japan and Asia. CfDS invited two speakers, Dr. Dian Arymami, S.IP., M.Hum (lecturer of Department of Communication, Fisipol UGM) and Ukky Satya (coordinator of Documentary Film Festival) to discuss further about the content of these documentary films.

The first movie screened was It’s a Start-Up Life by Steve Ross and Sharon Gidon Kobayashi featuring the life of Yuko Nakazawa, founder and CEO of consumer-tech firm UPQ. She designs tech-embedded products with manufacturing process done abroad. The film showed her daily activities as she represents a new generation of entrepreneurs in a new consumer business. Later, Mayu Nakamura’s film titled Happier Than Real was also screened. This documentary film featured people in Japan trying to find happiness through surrogacy service. Demand is on the rise to hire people to role as a ‘significant others’ such as girlfriend, wife or even children. Travel agency is also offering service to send stuffed animals on trip to help maintaining long-distance couples. It observes how digital technology is changing people’s relationship and family traditions in Japan.

Adaptation to Changes

Ukky Satya, Coordinator of Documentary Film Festival (Festival Film Dokumenter/FFD), chose these films by herself because they showed unique sociological aspects from technological advancement. Asia has a complex social-cultural issue, while Japan is the center of technology development in the continent. The combination has put Japanese in paradox. They become the most connected generation ever but also the loneliest one. Similar to Ukky, Dian stated that technology has brought not only industrial changes, but also sociological shifts in human interaction. Change is unavoidable. It doesn’t happen only in Japan, but the whole world is facing the same problem. “Every shift in any kind of modes of communication changes how we interact and socialize. Human will adapt whether we like it or not. The big question is how can we keep developing in the middle of this?” she said.

Humans are also known for their own resilience and adaptability. Ukky thought the film has pointed out how humans can adapt to socio-cultural changes. Happier Than Real Life narrated how a retired man, who lived through an era when technological advancement was not as massive as before, conformed to today’s challenges. Technology is always embedded to human culture and creates insecurity, but insecurity itself also allows human to develop.

Technology and Human Interaction

Technology creates new job opportunities. There are many jobs which do not exist or very much unimaginable decades ago. Means of economy becomes easier to cultivate, from YouTube to Instagram. Everyone has equal chance to get the most out of internet to make a fortune. Technology helps to reduce unemployment rate faster. However, it also alters intimacy and social interaction, where people cannot make contact with other human being without the help of technology. Technology becomes the embodiment of us.

Ukky told the audience about a documentary film describing how society in Yogyakarta well-known for their organic interaction is maintaining closeness via Facebook group. For her, digital technology might diminish several social cultures, however there are other form of interaction which are not completely erased. They conform to the new norms. Dian supported her statement, “the way human lives is about finding new norms. Some prevail, some do not. In some point, there will be “the new normal” as a result of human interaction. Our value changes, but we don’t realize the point when it happens. It just did.”

Dian emphasized the importance of multidisciplinary approach to frame techno-social issues. Each discipline has unique way to see how technology becomes part of human culture. Social issues cannot be seen through one perspective. Ukky voiced similar concern. She said, through documentary films, society can see how much digitalism alters many aspects of our lives. Inside Lens and NHK World-Japan disseminate their films to create new dialogues within the society. Many issues have not been covered, and documentary films help them to get the spotlight they deserve.

Written by: Nabiila Nurfitri


CfDS (Center for Digital Society) UGM is a multi-disciplinary research center that is established under the Faculty of Social & Political Sciences University of Gadjah Mada. This research center is built upon the concern over the contemporary dynamics of socio-political condition of the world that is accentuated by the impeccable influence of information technology. The phenomenon triggers the new patterns and complexities in the society, and thus requires new approaches in managing such complexities. Our research and other activities are based on spirits that is aligned with our motto, productive, innovative, & influential.