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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The need to have a 'secret space'

Rika Kayama

Recently, when I was catching up with the latest showbiz news, I noticed an item asking whether a certain celebrity had split up with their partner. The celebrity had been posting photos of their sweetheart online, but later, the mood began to change. The partner had started releasing intimate photos taken with another person. Nobody said, "They've split up," or, "There's a new partner on the scene." However, it was fairly easy to imagine from the new set of photos that the relationship had probably broken down.

    I believe people have it tough nowadays. When I was young, we used to have phrases such as, "secret love," in an era when many people would be discreet about their love life. We weren't able to take photos with a smartphone and then post those photos online -- which meant that we could go out with someone and then separate from them quietly without everybody around us knowing.

    However, in this day and age, if you post a photo online, people will sometimes ask, "Is that your new partner?" Similarly, if you don't post a photo of your partner for a while, people might start to think you have split up. In this kind of climate, it seems to me that youngsters nowadays feel obliged to post a record online of almost everything they do, whether it be a photo of something they ate, a place they visited, or someone they met.

    The other day, I had a meal with some students. They all tried to take photos of the food, which prompted me to ask, "What on earth are you going to do with those photos?" before adding, "Surely there's no need to release those pictures online just for the sake of it?"

    "It's not that simple," one of the students replied. "Because I'm looking at everyone else's photos, it would be strange if I were the only member of the group who didn't post photos of the meal." The response made me think how tiring it must be to feel unable to conceal anything.

    The truth is that we all have things about us we don't want to be known. Similarly, there are times when we don't want anyone else to invade our privacy. There are no doubt people out there who don't want any other family members to open their drawers. People simply need a "secret space," both mentally and physically. This is human nature.

    And I think that people who keep rushing to post photos on social media also require that "secret space." If you keep sharing news about your past and present, you will always be talked about -- which must surely be an uncomfortable feeling.

    As someone who is "quite" old, I think the whole trend of "posting everything on the internet" will become a huge burden, and people might start to give up. However, I must confess that I have also taken photos of appetizing bento lunches and autumn leaves, and posted them online. You want people to see these things. But then sometimes you don't. Humans are complicated, aren't they? (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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