Tired Of Walking: A Journey To Raise Mental Health Awareness, A Conversation With Daniel Craig
An Unexpected Journey Begins
In Tokyo’s vibrant streets, where the old seamlessly blends with the new, we meet Daniel, or “Danny” as he’s warmly known by his friends. Growing up amidst Hawaii’s stunning backdrops, Danny now spearheads Future Collective, a firm zeroing in on youth culture marketing with a keen interest in Generation Z and millennials. This venture straddles the energetic pulse of Tokyo and the calming vibes of Hawaii.
Danny dives straight into his story, speaking of his recent dedication to mental health and suicide prevention awareness. “This is a global concern,” he begins, “but in Japan, the dynamics are a bit different.” With evident reverence, he says, “Japanese culture is unique and deep-rooted. Talking about mental health here requires a careful approach.”
Delving deeper, Danny touches on a painful chapter from his past. “There were moments when life seemed stacked against me. I was without a home, battling weight issues, and wrestling with addiction.”
But he found an anchor. “Walking became my saving grace,” he declares. Those first few tentative steps blossomed into a larger journey, one that not only led to personal healing but also ignited a passion to uplift others.
It’s here that Danny introduces “Tired of Walking.” He recalls a 2015 trip to Japan, when a conversation with a trusted advisor planted the seed for a grand, purposeful walk. While initially a vague idea, this concept gradually sharpened over time, culminating in a film spotlighting Japan’s mental health challenges.
The uniqueness of this documentary lies in its approach: Danny will traverse the entire length (and beyond) of Japan, carrying seven pairs of shoes that once belonged to real-life suicide victims. With each step, he intends to share their stories, turning his journey into a powerful testament to the struggles Japanese people face and the need for open conversations about mental health.
To achieve this monumental goal, Danny plans to set a Guinness World Record, covering approximately 10,000 kilometers on foot, all while carrying the weight of these poignant stories on his shoulders.
Throughout the interview, we delve into Daniel’s motivations and the challenges he envisions. Yet, even more significantly, we witness a remarkable display of resilience and determination as he strives to illuminate a subject often concealed in secrecy: mental health.
The importance of this mission cannot be overstated. Mental health issues, from depression to anxiety to ADHD, affect people across the globe, transcending borders and cultures. Yet, stigma and silence too often surround these topics. Danny’s journey is not just about raising awareness; it’s about smashing the barriers that prevent us from discussing and addressing mental health openly and compassionately.
Influencer Culture and the Power of Live Streaming
“The impact that the influencers have over their audiences, especially the younger generation… It’s pretty powerful. You know, so in regard to mental health, I would go as far as to say that influencers and content creators are the new generation’s gatekeepers.”, explains Danny.
Drawing from his extensive experience in the influencer marketing industry, he underlines the tremendous impact that influencers have on their audiences, especially the younger generation. He boldly asserts that influencers and content creators have become the new gatekeepers of the youth’s mental well-being. It’s a significant statement, highlighting the responsibility that comes with the power to shape opinions and influence behaviors.
Nowadays, young people receive a vast portion of their values, beliefs, news, and even political stances from online figures they follow, so the influence of these personalities cannot be underestimated. Danny raises a critical point: if influencers are not conscious of the impact they have on their followers, they can inadvertently harm their mental health. The pressure to conform to curated online lives and unrealistic standards can lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy.
The conversation then transitions to a focused examination of Japan, a nation where the influence of social media and the culture of influencers on mental well-being is notably conspicuous. Daniel elaborates on the fact that Japan’s social media landscape has only relatively recently gained prominence, trailing behind Western trends by approximately six to seven years.
“With things in regards to social media, it’s really having a pretty devastating impact on their mental health, because they’re now starting to go through a lot of that. You know, comparing their lives to the lives of these people that they follow online.”
But how does Danny plan to utilize this influencer culture to address the mental health crisis and promote his campaign, “Tired of Walking”? The answer lies in live streaming, and his platform of choice is Twitch Japan. While Twitch originally gained fame as a gaming-centric live streaming platform, it has evolved to accommodate a wide range of content creators, including those who share their real-life experiences, or “IRL streamers.”
Danny believes that live streaming, particularly on Twitch, is the ideal medium for his mission. Given that his days during the long walk will be marked by solitude and silence, he recognizes the value of connecting with people in real-time. In a world where many in Japan suffer from conditions like “hikikomori,” a phenomenon characterized by social reclusiveness and withdrawal from society, Danny’s live streams offer a lifeline to those in need of connection.
“Hikikomori,” he explains, refers to individuals who lock themselves away, seldom leaving their homes, and immersing themselves in gaming, anime, and manga. It’s a manifestation of profound social isolation, often associated with mental illness. By choosing Twitch as a platform, Danny aims to reach and connect with these individuals, offering a glimmer of hope and understanding.
Live streaming allows him to be more than just an influencer; it enables him to be an authentic, relatable, and vulnerable presence in the lives of those who tune in. In sharing his journey, both the physical trek across Japan and his personal struggle with mental health, Danny seeks to dismantle the stigma surrounding these issues, foster open conversations, and provide a sense of community to those who may feel isolated.
Execution and Leveraging Social Media
Speaking of his ambitious “Tired of Walking” campaign, Daniel acknowledges the self-funded nature of the campaign, and explains that he and his dedicated team are approaching their goals with realism and pragmatism. Their hope is to secure the right partners and sponsors who can ease the physical and mental toll that the trek across Japan will undoubtedly take on him. With the necessary equipment for effective live streaming, they aim to ensure his well-being during the journey.
To maintain his physical and mental health, Danny emphasizes the importance of his team’s support. They will manage most, if not all, of the day-to-day tasks, allowing him to concentrate on self-care and the walk itself. He anticipates covering an average of 25 to 45 kilometers a day, five days a week, with intermittent breaks for rest and recovery.
When talking about the role of social media in maximizing the campaign’s reach, Danny acknowledges that his team, part of Future Collective, is well-positioned to utilize various social media platforms. These platforms, including Twitch, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, will serve as key avenues for spreading awareness about the campaign.
Danny’s focus during the journey will primarily be on surviving the ordeal. His team will take charge of planning, producing, and publishing content. While some content will be pre-planned, much of it will be organically developed as they encounter stories and experiences along the way.
Sean Osada, the influencer marketing lead at Future Collective and whom Danny refers to as his little brother, will drive the RV every step of the way. Julian Domanski, Future Collective’s resident videographer, will support the media production and documentation aspects of the walk. Both play crucial roles in Danny’s overall success, so much so, that Danny does not believe it can be done without them. “Sean and Julian are the core of Tired of Walking. Without their support, there’s no way I could even consider pursuing this endeavor. This takes a team.”
One of the most exciting aspects of the campaign involves collaborating with influencers and content creators in Japan. With access to an extensive network of these individuals, Danny intends to invite them to join him for sprints of the long walk. This unique approach allows influencers to share their personal mental health journeys with both their audience and Danny’s collective audience.
By participating in these sprints, influencers will provide a different perspective on their lives, one that is rarely seen on social media. In a society like Japan, where it is considered impolite to initiate conversations about taboo subjects like mental health, this campaign offers an opportunity to break the silence. Danny believes that if given permission, people in Japan are not afraid to speak on the topic; they are just hesitant to begin the conversation.
Through collaborations and open conversations about mental health, Danny hopes to initiate and normalize discussions on this important issue, ultimately giving people in Japan a platform to share their experiences and seek support.
Synergy with Mr. Beast, Challenges, and Opportunities
Speaking of his potential partnership with Mr. Beast, Danny begins by clarifying that they are not officially partnered with the popular Youtuber or his philanthropy at this time, though they remain hopeful that such a partnership could be a dream come true. He acknowledges Mr. Beast, also known as Jimmy Donaldson, as one of the most influential content creators globally, particularly among Generation Z.
Danny emphasizes that Mr. Beast has the power to positively impact young people’s lives worldwide. He attributes Mr. Beast’s success to his ability to create high-quality, engaging content that captivates his audience. What sets Mr. Beast apart is his capacity to transcend borders and niches by creating separate YouTube channels for different countries and languages, including Japan. Danny believes this ability aligns with their goals for expanding the campaign’s reach in Japan.
Daniel then talked about the challenges and opportunities they foresee when partnering with global and local brands. Danny believes that the opportunities for collaboration are limitless. Still, the biggest hurdle they face is the taboo nature of mental health and suicide. Discussing such topics requires individuals and brands to confront the problems with the hearts and minds of the general public. In Japan, where these topics are considered unspeakable, even labeling oneself as mentally ill can lead to ostracization.
Despite the potential for backlash and hate, Danny is determined to push forward with the campaign. He recognizes that hate often stems from love and caring about a topic. Apathy, or not caring, is the opposite of love. Danny concludes by affirming that he won’t let hatred or pushback deter him from the important mission of tackling mental health issues and suicide prevention.
Social Media Algorithms as a Way To Boost The Visibility Of The Campaign
When asked about how transparency offered by social media can help in destigmatizing mental health issues, Daniel calls it a “double-edged sword”. He says that it “can be leveraged as a force for positive change or it can be exploited as a destructive force and cause chaos and discord.” His strategy for making a positive impact includes several key points:
- Collaboration with Influencers: The campaign plans to collaborate with various influencers and content creators, each of whom has their own unique audience. Daniel uses a metaphor to compare the influencers to comic book heroes, The Avengers. These influencers can be seen as individual “Avengers” with their standalone stories and fan bases. By working with a diverse group of influencers, the campaign aims to reach different demographics and age groups, tapping into various segments of the audience.
- Targeting Different Demographics: Daniel emphasizes the importance of tapping into different demographics to address the issue of suicide, particularly among young people. Suicide is a leading cause of death in Japan for individuals aged 10 to 39, making it crucial to reach out to this age group through influencers who resonate with them.
- Authenticity and Empathy: Daniel highlights the significance of authenticity, empathy, and compassion in the approach. Influencers should feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics like mental health without compromising their personal brands. Encouraging open and honest conversations about mental health can help change the way social media addresses the topic.
By leveraging collaborations with influencers and prioritizing authentic, empathetic discussions about mental health, the campaign aims to make a positive impact on social media platforms and raise awareness about mental health issues.
Daniel also touches upon the ethical considerations when it comes to raising awareness about mental health through social media in Japan. Since it is a topic that requires care and sensitivity, there are many things to watch out for, given the cultural nuances and potential for misunderstanding.
Ethical Considerations: Daniel and his team have been careful about the ethical implications of their work. They’ve consulted with producers and individuals associated with major brands like Netflix to ensure they approach the topic of mental health in the right way.
Avoiding Capitalization: They decided not to take certain avenues that might exploit or capitalize on the issue of mental health in Japan, as they are concerned about not belittling or negatively portraying the country.
Respect and Love for Japan: Daniel, being half Japanese, believes that his unique background allows him to start conversations about mental health without feeling guilty or ashamed, as he can approach the topic with love, respect, and honor for both cultures.
Universal Human Experience: He highlights that mental health is a universal issue that transcends demographics, such as age, race, religion, gender, or sex. It’s a problem that affects people all over the world, making it a relevant topic on various social media platforms.
Mental Health as a Root Issue: Daniel believes that mental health plays a significant role in many societal problems, including conflicts, civil unrest, and prejudice. He sees it as a root issue that needs attention.
Consistency Across Platforms: While Daniel acknowledges that they will tailor their communication to each social media platform, he believes that the core message about mental health remains the same. The topic is universal and aims to promote compassion and empathy.
Daniel’s approach reflects a deep commitment to raising awareness about mental health in Japan while respecting cultural sensitivities and maintaining consistency in his message across different social media platforms.
The Success of The Campaign
“I mean, the numbers are not important, what is important is the message. Success in terms of awareness and actual impact.” Danny muses, “In a perfect world, Netflix would pick this up and we’d be able to make an award-winning documentary out of it.” Yet he is quick to clarify, “That’s not the mission.”
This underlying sentiment showcases a refreshing perspective within the vast realm of the creator economy. While many obsess over numbers and metrics, Daniel’s focus remains unwavering on the more profound and intangible impacts of his projects. “For me, at least, it’s not so much about the numbers,” he continues, “If we could just impact one life… I wouldn’t say save because we’re not trying to be white knights and having some sort of savior complex. That’s not the mission. You cannot save who doesn’t want to be saved.”
Such an ethos might sound familiar to some seasoned creators, ones who understand the power of their platforms. By focusing on genuine connection and resonant messages, creators like Daniel aspire to create content that touches lives and sparks change, regardless of how many views or likes they receive. “I could sleep so much better at night, knowing that one person didn’t kill themselves after strongly considering it or thinking about it,” Daniel expresses, “I would just consider that a massive success… maybe that’s cliche, but I just, I would be happy with that.”
Behind every creation is a series of decisions—when to launch, where to focus, how to approach audiences. Sharing his thoughts on his campaign’s launch date, Daniel leaned toward a winter start, eager to journey through Japan from Hokkaido despite the region’s frigid temperatures. Yet, he underscores the need to weigh various factors before finalizing any decision. “It’s essential to consider cultural sensitivity, ethical considerations, and financial feasibility,” Daniel noted.
Daniel’s tireless dedication to the “Tired of Walking” campaign is driven by a mission that transcends mere statistics. He envisions success as the potential to save lives and instill self-compassion. As he looks forward to its launch, Daniel remains committed to fostering a culture where open conversations about mental health are not just encouraged but celebrated, ultimately making a profound and positive impact on society.