Warning Sign: Japan's Internet Cafe Refugees
Consider this a warning of some kind, an experiment gone wrong that we should learn something from.
In Japan, internet cafe “refugees” started becoming a problem in the 2000s. They are workers who don’t make enough to afford permeant housing so they rent these tiny little rooms at internet cafes and live in them. Part of the cause for this phenomenon is due to the makeup of the labor market, about 38 percent of which are temporary workers.
Right now in the U.S., there’s a lot of cheerleading about the new freelance economy, our temporary workforce. It's good because it gives workers freedom to pursue projects they want, eliminates the need for a soul-crushing commutes into an office and also because it keeps things dynamic and interesting, but there are downsides too, and I’ve been considering them over the last few months. The main downside of the freelance/temporary workforce economy is this video by MediaStorm, and it’s something we should all be thinking about as the economy starts to pick up again. Sure it's Japan, but it's still a message we need heed.