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Taiwan vs. America: Differences and Similarities

For Asian Americans to discuss Asian American issues and topics.

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Taiwan vs. America: Differences and Similarities

Postby Winston » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:53 pm

My new blog post:

http://intellectualexpat.blogspot.com/2 ... s-and.html


Taiwan vs. America: Differences and Similarities

Cultural comparisons tend to put one in hot water because they often incur accusations of overgeneralizing and stereotyping. Nevertheless, patterns and differences in culture and people DO EXIST and are demonstratable. So in the name of truth, I do not fear offending others and will merely call it as I see it.

Differences

- Taiwanese are more group and family oriented (collectivist), while America is more individual oriented. For example, a person marrying someone that their parents disapprove of would not care in the US, but in Taiwan the parents’ feelings would be a strong factor. However, some say that this is changing in Taiwan.
- The Taiwanese are more subtle and indirect in their communication. They prefer dropping hints and cues rather than being upfront. On the other hand, Western communication is more assertive, articulate and direct.
- On the exterior, Taiwanese people are more reserved and cold toward strangers. They are less apt to smile or make eye contact. But once you get to know them, they become more hospitable and generous. Americans smile and chat politely with strangers easily, but do not invite you into their homes or personal lives easily.
- Taiwanese are taught to be modest, humble and obedient, rather than outspoken, aggressive or assertive. American culture teaches the opposite, that assertiveness is a valuable communication skill in one’s personal and professional life. Being quiet, submissive and obedient is seen in the US as a weakness that allows others to walk all over you. Bullies see such types as easy targets to bully. But in Asia, no one will make fun of such types.
- Confidence is not taught as a good attribute in Taiwan, nor is it encouraged (at least not the western version of confidence). Instead, Taiwanese think that it is better to live in fear and worry, and yield to others to avoid trouble. Compliance, respect and hard work are the attributes of their ideal citizen. But in America, confidence is seen as power, and the key ingredient behind image, hence the slogan “Image is everythingâ€￾.
- Lighter skin is seen as more attractive in Asia, so that darker Asians prefer to whiten their skin. But in America, having a slight tan is seen as healthier and more attractive than being too pale.
- Girls in Taiwan are more shy and introverted than their western counterparts, but they are more feminine, tender and caring toward their family and partners as well.

Similarities

- American and Taiwanese cultures are VERY workaholic. They share an inherent belief that humans were created to work. Thus they “live to workâ€￾ and feel empty and purposeless without it. Most Taiwanese work 6 or 7 days a week. Having too much freedom or vacation time is seen as deviant to the corporate culture. Being a slave to your job is seen as a good thing. Most have little or no interests outside of their work. They have no identity outside of their work, organization or culture. People are conditioned this way to serve the interests of their corporatocracy.
- Both cultures are very materialistic in their values, and teach that wealth and assets are the keys to happiness. They are programmed to work and consume to fill their emptiness, rather than cultivating inner assets (spirituality, knowledge, intellectualism). There is a lot of misery and depression. Suicide rates are high in both cultures.
- In general, people are socially conservative and cliquish. Social interaction is usually confined within closed cliques established early on in life. People don’t talk to strangers in both countries unless it’s business related. There is a paranoia toward strangers, which is unjustified since both countries are relatively safe, and violence is greatly exaggerated by the media.
- People live in structured routines and life is a business, not a passion. Everything is highly compartmentalized.
- People in both countries are not generally educated or informed about the rest of the world. Instead, they harbor stereotypes about other countries that aren’t true, largely due to Hollywood movies, myths and propaganda.
- Citizens of both cultures do not tend to be good at critical thinking. Instead, they blindly believe whatever they are told by their government and media like zombies. They forget the fact that their governments have lied many times in the past and committed crimes. Instead, they live passively and assume that authority = truth.
- Their education system is rigged so that if you conform, you become a robot (rewarded with pay), but if you don’t you become a bum. Thus defying the system brings suffering and makes it difficult to live a good life. Essentially, they want you to be smart enough to perform in a job, but not to think too critically, deeply or “out of the boxâ€￾.
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