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Japan’s Generation Z turns to “Taipa” to keep from running out of time
The new Japanese buzzword for “time performance” involves leveraging technology to increase quality “disposable time.”
Dear readers, they say you never stop learning something, and here’s the proof: a few ago I learned a new word - one of those cut-and-paste terms the Japanese love to createevery other day. When I was in college, for instance, I learned that zensuto was short for ZENeraru SUTOraiki (general strike) and pansuto meant PANtii SUTOkkingu (panty stockings).
A few days ago, I met this brand-new term, taipa, thanks to Mark Kennedy and his ever-interesting and entertaining newsletter, Real Gaijin. I found this story so mind-boggling that I had to share it with you. Please read on.
What’s new: Ask any recent college graduate about their experience of being sent home to complete their studies via what must have seemed like an endless series of lectures delivered by Zoom during the global pandemic, and they will tell you that they only made it through this painful period by using the functionality to playback such presentations at 1.5x or double-speed to save time and relieve boredom. Increasing the playback speed reduces viewing time and allows information acquisition in a shorter period. This habit learned “in” school by Generation Z during Covid stuck, and it has now become part of the phenomenon of taipa (タイパ), a term likely to become one of this year’s major new Japanese buzzwords.
This phrase is an abbreviation of “time performance,” which is a derivative of the English term “cost performance.”
In Japanese that term is simply called kosupa (コスパ) in place of the more traditional hiyo tai koka (費用対効果), which means the same thing but is written with Chinese kanji characters.
The big picture: Along with the rise in popularity of the jargon taipa, there seems to be an overall shift from a focus on cost-effectiveness to a concentration on time-effectiveness. The premise is related to the concept of "disposable time,” which is the time available outside of work and required for chores at home.
The theory is related to the notion of "disposable income," that refers to the amount of money you can spend freely, excluding living expenses, from your overall earnings. Disposable income can be increased by raising income or lowering expenses, but this is not the case with disposable time. Even if previously wasted time can be eliminated to some extent, no one can expand the upper limit of only 24 hours per day.
With the advent of the always-connected smartphone, it has become increasingly difficult to escape work obligations by truly being unreachable. Our hyper-connected society is, therefore, making it more and more difficult to secure a significant amount of disposable time.
Led by Generation Z, young people have become highly attuned to the finite amount of disposable time, and they want to conserve as much of it as possible. This desire has led to a new consciousness about taipa.
By the numbers: A survey conducted earlier this year by Seiko, the famous Japanese wristwatch manufacturer that certainly knows a lot about time, found that approximately 1/3 of Japanese people consciously think about taipa, as it relates to the following activities:
Watching videos 26.9%
Thus, they make a deliberate effort to act efficiently to increase both effectiveness and satisfaction from these activities.
The national broadcasting station NHK interviewed a man in his 30s about his use of a subscription service that delivers summaries of popular business books—sort of like the CliffNotes series--which is popular with students.
“I wanted to read this and that, but I was too busy to read them all. The fact that I could efficiently encounter books with a high taipa was a great match for me.” - Mr. Yamashita
The "summary service" that Mr. Yamashita uses has grown rapidly over the past three years, and it now has more than 1 million subscribers in Japan.
Whereas business meetings used to be commonly scheduled to last 1 hour, it is now increasingly common to fill a busy daily schedule with 30 minute meetings to maximize one’s time-per-minute while on the job.
“I place great deal of importance on the goals of each of my 30 minute meetings throughout the day. I always start out by seeking agreement, ‘Let's clarify the subject, the points that we want to discuss, and what conclusions we want to draw.’” – Self-employed management consultant Shinji Takenaka
This is, essentially, the only way that the busy Takenaka can make it through his packed daily schedule. He is, moreover, acutely aware of the separation between work and leisure time as he juggles many tasks.
Go deeper: Taipa is also causing increasing demand for audio media platforms such as Voicy (https://voicy.jp/) and podcasts. It is because multi-taskers want to be able to work while listening.
Double-speed viewing of video and playback of audio content may already be "the norm" for some people.
Double-speed viewing is easy to understand when it is oriented toward "input" for work or self-investment, but what about double-speed viewing of dramas and movies? Netflix allows users to change, for example, the playback speed of their video content, but some question the value of this feature. Others now cannot live without it.
“When I really want to concentrate on something, I watch it at double speed and put a lot of information in my head at once. I feel that it is important to watch a movie several times. So, watching a movie twice at 1.5 or 2 times the speed is quite efficient.” – University student Ren
This is not just an isolated practice; It’s a real “thing” in Japan. There is a growing tendency to skip over "scenes with no dialogue" and "portions depicting scenery,” which begs the question of why bother to watch a TV show or movie in the first place.
A side effect of using double speed to watch a drama series or movie is that one’s field of vision becomes more narrow. The viewer’s attention is drawn only to the actors' mouths, and although the overall story is still comprehendible, it becomes difficult to perceive the subtle nuances intended by the director.
That said, overall comprehension does not seem to be negatively affected by this form of accelerated exposure to content. A professor at Japan’s prestigious Waseda University recently conducted a survey of 75 students who were tested on their ability to understand and retain content after watching a lecture at multiple speeds. The control group watched at normal speed, whereas two other groups watched at 1.5x and double-speed. There was, remarkably, no statistical difference among the test scores of the three cohorts of students.
Another example of how taipa is permeating Japanese society can be found at the Universal Studios Japan (USJ) theme park in Osaka. This amusement park now features the "Universal Express Pass," a ticket that allows visitors to enjoy attractions earlier than they would normally be able to by waiting in a long line. This ticket is like a pay-as-you-go version of Disneyland's "Fast Pass.”
The psychology of people who purchase these tickets is that the time available for entertainment has a real value and, therefore, should be available for purchase by those who are willing to pay a little extra. Just as the old adage “time is money” holds true in the business world, USJ’s new ticket indicates that awareness of the value of time extends to entertainment and daily life, as well.
What’s next: As more and more people consciously become aware of taipa, there needs to be an understanding of the link between anxiety related toward always trying to maximize one’s time with natural metabolism.
“When you first wake up, your metabolism is still not very high, but it gradually increases during the day, reaches its peak in the evening, drops again during the night, and becomes low while you are sleeping. Depending on the state of metabolism, your body moves differently, and the way you feel about time and the length of time to complete certain tasks also changes. In the early hours of the morning, when the metabolism is still low, time passes quickly, but in the afternoon the sense that time is flowing slowly becomes stronger.” – Professor Makoto Ichikawa of Chiba University
Regardless of whether one is a typical morning person or a night owl, there will always only be 24 hours in a day. Thus, it might benefit everyone to slow down and take a break from time to time.
#taipa #timeperformance #kosupa #costperformance #doublespeedviewing #タイパ #タイムパフォーマンス #コスパ #コストパフォーマンス #1.5倍速 #2倍速 #時間対効果 #費用対効果
So, what do you think about this? My first reaction after reading Mark’s story was, what a crappy society we have built.
Ironically, while the young may be using technology to optimize their time, they are also wasting a lot of it. When I came to Japan, 30 years ago, most people riding the train and subway in Tokyo read newspapers, magazine and books (and manga, of course). They read voraciously, everything and everywhere. Now, most of them play videogames, check Facebook or whatever, send and read messages, and watch 10-second videos - the visual equivalent of a sugar high with zero nourishment - constantly skimming in search of the next high.
Me, I still read a book, even because I still don't own a smartphone. When I leave home, I’m off-line.
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