Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society

London School of Economics and Political Science Students' Union

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This website was launched in 2015 by Zoe Liu (Publications Officer 2015-16)

Cocooning : Who is to blame? Why socialize less…

December 26, 2015


Honestly, I have never come across this terminology, at least not in English. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this phenomenon being way more common and controversial within the Hong Kong society, I decided to Google it and the closest English word that pops up is “Cocooning”. Here comes the definition of this rarely seen yet kind of catchy word:

Cocooning is the name given to the trend that sees individuals socializing less and retreating into their home more.

Yep, now you see where I’m coming from.


I am by no means trying to act smart and convince all of you with some unprecedented ideology and indeed, this short article is purely based on my personal encounter with those who somehow made it into the category of the “Cocooning group”, either unwillingly or deliberately, but I believe, this social issue is worthy of your attention.  


Being socialized is one of the most overriding personal attributes and characteristics among teenagers and young adults. Especially in Hong Kong, where advanced technology and media coverage allows almost immediate access to online interaction platform such as FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM in order for people to share their lifestyle, photos they took on birthday parties etc. However, the question I’m raising is that to what extent do these technologies satisfy our socializing needs and, is everyone having the same enjoyment on this social platform?


To answer the first question, we could argue that online multimedia interaction are valued more by the ‘Cocooning ones’ a.k.a the less socialized people, as they can still keep updated to what is going on among their friends. However, the same value judgment cannot be applied to the second question and I am going to explain about this on latter part. Bear in mind I’m deliberately using the word ‘Less-social’ instead of ‘Anti-social’ because, it is important to distinguish that the former group is usually characterized by people who had made an effort in socializing with others but failing to do so for whatever reasons over certain behavior they have attempted, mostly resulting from these ‘Cocooning group’ getting sidelined and isolated as a result.


Superficially, the so-called ‘popular groups’ of friends circle who sideline the nowadays less social ones is seemingly the one to point the finger at. It is fair to say those who have tendency to frequently update their social media are never the less-socialized ones, but what leads to them not being more active in sharing their life stories: they lack highlights in their daily life. Taking university as an example, people are usually well-integrated within the first couple of weeks, only to enable enough time for everyone to sort out their own ‘Friend circle’ and to sideline the unwanted ones. Those unfortunate ones are easily identified: they lack self-confidence through their body language, lack interesting topics and hobbies worthy of others’ attention. This breeds Cocooning. This usually generates the psychology that these people is not going to be accepted easily by friend circles he was not belong to unless there is substantial change to himself in terms of personality, appearance (YES, NO ONE IS NOT JUDGEMENTAL IN MODERN SOCIETY), or the ‘popular ones’ somehow come to realization of how they should not have excluded others (Well, this is very unlikely to happen).


What I have observed in Hong Kong ever since I left the city for study some while ago is that, the city has grown, in a more Hostile way. People, especially teenagers are less easy-going and more judgmental, and this inevitably victimized the less-social ones who are not in a great position to protect them-selves. This justified why I said they would not have the same enjoyment on social platform because it is likely they will become envious over time about social events they are not invited, just from seeing photos other people posted without them. As there is nothing they can change with their hands given their exclusion from more social people, they could possibly end up losing the ability to communicate in the society, further reducing their chance of having a successful career and fulfilling future.   


I had never, and will never consider myself as the celebrity of my year group. I do have friends I love, I care and I believe they do the same to me. But sometimes, have we paid enough attention to those whose existence outside our friend circles is minimal? Have we ever considered their position, suffer, from being isolated? We cannot expect everyone to be care at same extent, unless this trend, that is if an increasing amount of people choosing to socialize less, is developing at their own wish. Cocooning is never an optimistic and positive social phenomenon, regardless of it being an unwilling or deliberate behavior, but if you are playing an active role in segregating one from others, you are just helping trigger the expansion of ‘Cocooning’ and clearly, the one to blame on.


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