[Despite the silly lead-in, and the incorrect description of chimpanzees as "monkeys" (they're apes), this is an important article, so I've saved it here. The original link is dead.]
Going bananas over mobile phones for so many years is turning Japanese into monkeys, according to Sapio (11/23).
Nobuo Masataka, a professor at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute and author of the monster best seller "Keitai wo Motta Saru (Monkeys With Mobile Phones)," argues that the proliferation of mobile phones has got young Japanese making monkeys of themselves, aping the behavior patterns of chimpanzees.
He says that young Japanese have lost the ability to discern between public and private space. He adds that they have formed what he calls the dearuki-zoku (out and about tribe).
"There's been a dramatic increase in the dearuki-zoku. They don't eat meals at home with family members and you can clearly see with your own eyes the large increase in young people who hang about on the streets together with the same old friends," Masataka tells Sapio. "They make places like Shibuya their territory and rarely head even to places like (nearby entertainment and shopping districts) Shinjuku or Harajuku. They get tired going to new places or meeting new people. If they get hungry while they're strolling around, they simply get food by going into a convenience store, buying something and sitting down outside on the curb to eat it. If not that, then they just hang around for hours in fast food joints."
The primate specialist says the actions of the dearuki-zoku closely resemble behavior patterns in chimpanzees, which tend to travel in groups, walking around for a long time without going to any specific place, then eating and disposing of their wastes in the same place before bedding down on piles of grass whenever and wherever the inclination takes them.
"This ability to loiter on the streets exists only because of the proliferation of mobile phones. Parents let their kids go out because they think they're only a phone call away. And even if the kid doesn't come home, parents don't call them because they believe the child's mobile phone offers them an unbreakable link," Masataka tells Sapio. "Behind this imagined ease of mind, though, lies a breakdown in communications among the family members. Mobile phones have made it possible to connect to family members or other parts of society 24 hours a day, drastically changing the nature of relationships that humans have created through their evolution."
The problem is, Masataka notes, despite having this communication device, there's little real communication going on with parents or children rarely calling each other.
Masataka adds that a tendency for the young to lash out in wild, unprovoked attacks also draws on primate instincts drawn out by over-use of mobile phones that have stopped people from speaking in favor of sending text messages and thus made them more emotional and unable to express their feelings in words.
"Apes will suddenly strike out at people for looking at them. Naturally, apes can't talk and they're expressing their emotions in the only way they can. People prone to rage are doing exactly the same thing," the primatologist says.
Masataka claims that mobile phones have deprived people of brainpower because memory functions now eliminate the need to try and remember phone numbers and GPS functions mean people have no need to learn about their surroundings.
"Mobile phones are now performing tasks that minds once did, such as think and talk. If this continues, people will continue losing their ability to think. Information Technology may have liberated us from a whole series of daily burdens, but IT has also dragged us down. Incidentally, the only people so caught up with mobile phones and use them to send so much mail are the Japanese," Masataka tells Sapio. "Some may criticize me for likening the behavior of humans with monkeys, but having studied primates for so long, I can clearly say that it's a fact the proliferation of IT has made human behavior closely resemble that of apes."