Join John Adams, world renowned Intl Matchmaker, Thurs nights 8:30 EST for Live Webcasts with FREE Prizes!
And check out Five Reasons why you should attend a FREE Live AFA Seminar! See locations and details.


Scam free! Check out Christian Filipina - Meet Asian women with Christian values! Members screened.
Exclusive book offer! 75% off! How to Meet, Date and Marry Your Filipina Wife



View Active Topics       Latest 100 Topics       View Your Posts       FAQ Topics       Switch to Mobile


Critical Observations of East Asian Culture/Mentality

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

Moderators: jamesbond, fschmidt

Postby Winston » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:34 pm

Here is another long response to my series of essays on Taiwanese mentality and life. This one is a bit more politically correct. My response follows.

"Dear Winston,

I stumbled upon your website and was compelled enough by your writings to formulate a response. You and I are very similar in that I also am a Taiwanese-American who grew up mostly in the US (on the East Coast) and have lived in 7 different states (NY, NJ, GA, ME, PA, OH, MI) as well as 5 countries (US, Taiwan, Venezuela, France, Chile). Judging from your picture I estimate that I am a few years younger than you (26) but certainly do share the same passion for cultural learning (I speak English, Mandarin, and Spanish fluently; have a workable command of Turkish and am progressing well in Arabic).

Similarities aside, we also have very many differences, primarily in thought… I was impressed by your truthful and uninhibited writings, and certainly cannot object to any of the facts which you have written as they clearly are the truth. However, I do have very strong reservations with your personal analyses, not due to the conclusions you draw in themselves, but what they reveal and represent. Your words make it seem as if you feel that Western cultures are superior to those of Asia and that you even feel ashamed of your ethnicity.

First of all, I must make a very clear distinction and ask that you not confuse culture with stereotype. Much of what you say (in regards to materialism and competition) that is very critical certainly does not represent the roots of culture, but rather symptoms (equivalent to stereotypes) and are painted in a very negative light out of context. Yes it is true about the strictness, rigor, and demand placed upon children... but is this because we are just horribly concerned with winning the race of capitalism or perhaps more so because we just wish the best for our future generations? Do we not place a high level of emphasis on individualism because we have no capability for creative though or perhaps because we value tradition, heritage, and the greater society?

Regardless of the intent, it is clear that certain aspects of our culture can bring about very harsh feelings such as those which you harbor. But to say that this is justification for supporting the superiority of one culture over another is not only irresponsible but also dangerous. Certainly you could say that Latin American culture places a greater emphasis on enjoyment and that people have more "fun" than in Taiwan (very true of Venezuela where I live today, even with the horrific economic and political turmoil facing this beautiful country)... but does that make them better? Conversely does the fact that our people have a notoriously high level of discipline and responsibility make Asian culture superior to those of Latin America (particularly the Andean regions) with a greater degree of laziness/lack of leadership or Sub-Saharan Africa with a higher level of corruption?

Of course the answer to both questions (at least in my eyes) is a resounding NO. When dealing with an issue such as culture I think that it is both infantile and irresponsible to attempt to make designations such as “betterâ€￾ or “worseâ€￾… there is only DIFFERENT. Your statements and examples not only bypass the positive stereotypes of Asian people but also make claim to cultural inferiority. I cannot help how you feel about yourself and if you wish to be known as an American/European/Latino in the body of an Asian, but I do hope that you could be more respectful than as to demean a culture. Your words bring an aura as if they could have come from the justifications of a Napoleon or Hitler. If you think this “cultural arroganceâ€￾ has no relevance today than let me ask you to consider the role that religion plays in the definition of culture in many societies. How are you as a proponent of cultural superiority different from the religious superiority preached by Ahmadinejad, Bin Laden, or Jerry Falwell?

I don’t mean any of this to be insultory towards you; I make these points only to in hopes that you be more respectful towards the rights of any culture. Certainly there are negative points of Taiwanese culture, as there are positive… just as there are in every culture of this fascinating planet. Most importantly, there is a place in this world for all: the strict hard-working Asian cultures, the technologically shunning Amish or Bedouin, the family oriented Latino or West African, the entrepreneurial American, etc.... On one final note, please do not think of yourself, the freelancing Romantic or even myself, the adventurous risk-taker as exceptions to Taiwanese culture – we do not represent exceptions but possibilities. There is no right or wrong with possibilities: maybe one leads to riches and others to poverty, another to fame but there is no better or worse. Judging by the note you posted from your father it at least seems that you are beginning to forgive and accept (if not respect) multiculturalism, so please do not fall off of this track.

Whatever path we follow, all of the choices we make in life are influenced by the events of our past. Like it or not, your Taiwanese upbringing served to help shape the views (negatively or positively) that you hold today. I am personally very proud of my heritage and am very cognizant that I would not be where I am today without it. Whether you want to say that it was because of or in spite of my strict childhood, I would not have spent 3 months living out of tents and youth hostels in the South of France rock climbing after graduation; I would not have pursued a “traditional Asianâ€￾ degree in Engineering at an elite University, nor have the professional success that I do today; I would not have moved to Chile or Venezuela where I am engaged to a Venezuelan woman and have been adopted as a new son into her criollo family; I would not have become involved in the Chinese community, American expat community, or pro-democracy movement in the midst of dictatorial takeover here; I would not have traveled to 70+ countries, discussing geo-politics with one of the Saudi crown princes, nor have been shot at by corrupt police sent to break up a peaceful march in Latin America. Similarly, whether because of or in spite of, you would not be adventuring around Russia if not for what happened in your past.

I send this to you as an open letter that you should feel free to publish from a different perspective that cherishes all of the world’s cultures. Best wishes with your continuing adventures.

Jon"


My response:

"Dear Jon,
Thanks for such an interesting response. Especially from a Taiwanese American. I will be sure to show it to my mailing list, if you don’t mind (would you like to be on it?)

Anyhow, I read your letter several times, and it appears that even though you agree with the patterns and behavior I describe, you have a different overall VALUE judgment about it than me. And that’s fine. I acknowledge that two intelligent rational people can look at the same facts and data and draw different value judgments. At least we agree on the same data and patterns.

It seems that your views though, are a bit more politically correct than mine. Yes you are right in that I am critical and quick to place a negative value judgment on my observations of asian culture and ways. And perhaps I shouldn’t, since very little good comes from negativity. You are also right that each culture is different, has different pluses and minuses, and that one is not necessarily “betterâ€￾ or more superior than another. But as I always said, there are ways in which a culture is “betterâ€￾ than another. For example, the US has better opportunities for making money than the Philippines, but the Philippines has far superior social and dating life, for the average person. And to me, the dating/social life is more important to MY life and happiness than the money making opportunity. Thus, I’m happier in the Philippines and thrive there more, and I feel much freer as well, since I am allowed to hit on and approach girls whereas in the US or Taiwan I’m seen as a creep if I do such things.

Does that make sense to you?

Also, my point still stands that some people fit better in some places than other places. Chemistry is important, as well as location. Most people do not fit in everywhere in the world. You are right that there is a place in the world for the material shunning Amish, as well as the money making American/Oriental. So I think we would agree on this. Right?

In my articles, I simply explain what fits and works better for me and others who are like me. It may not be true for all. I’ve always acknowledged that. For instance, I’ve said before that for those who don’t care that much about a social life, and live to make money, would be happier in the US or the UK than where I like to go.

So I don’t mean to overgeneralize in my value judgments. But perhaps I do have a righteous tone of indignation that may be a result of my “Taiwanese righteousness of opinionâ€￾.

In your first few paragraphs, you seem to insinuate that I feel one culture is “superiorâ€￾ to another. I don’t usually use the word “superiorâ€￾ in my articles so I have no idea where you got that. I merely explain why I fit into certain cultures better than others. I did not mean to demean a certain culture.

Yes you are right that Asian parents are so strict and controlling with their children because they want them to win the race of capitalism and want them to succeed to bring prosperity to future generations. However, my criticism is that they tend to use fear and negative reinforcement, which is unevolved, unwise, and unspiritual. Such types of conditioning doesn’t work with me, so I slam it. Usually, very little good if any comes from negative reinforcement or fear tactics. I also do not see the sense in doing or believing something just because someone tells you to, or following the pack like most Asians “just becauseâ€￾.

Now, from your letter, it seems that you’ve read my Asian Mentality Treatise, which I’ve now renamed “A Freespirit’s Observations on Taiwanese/Oriental Life/Mentalityâ€￾ and is now at this link: www.happierabroad.com/Asian_Mentality.htm

Have you read my other stuff, especially my main feature, the ebook Happier Abroad? (www.happierabroad.com/ebook.htm) If not, check it out, it reflects the main crux of my views. And let me know what you think.

Again, thanks for such an intelligent letter, and I will be sure that my fans and audience gets to read it.

Winston

PS – How did you get to go to 70 countries when you’re only 26? "
User avatar
Winston
Site Admin
 
Posts: 23602
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:16 pm







Postby Winston » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:46 am

Check this out. A girl in Singapore just wrote me about my critical observations of East Asian Culture/Mentality.

Hello Winston,

I have come across your site on http://www.happierabroad.com/Asian_Mentality.htm when I was super pissed off at work...with yes ! Asian HERD mentality.
And so i google "stupid asian childish herd mentality" and I come across your site and reading your views is simply a pleasure and refreshing - to know that I am normal. I live in Singapore and it's exactly the same, but of course MOST people wouldn't agree.

It's frustrating to be minority. I wish to grow & learn & as a being, as a soul but I don't know where or how I can go about, Is studying philosophy a good way? I challenged society norms regards to the "expectation" and "standard" path .. and how one is measured as successful,yet in my views most are shallow in thoughts. To say that I am not influenced would be a lie, but it's something I would like to remove for some of the 'programming' and it's not at all easy. There's noone I can turn to for continuous reminder and guidance.

Sorry , if I bored u with para 2. Still, just a email to compliment on your website. It's Great!

Best wishes,
****
Last edited by Winston on Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
User avatar
Winston
Site Admin
 
Posts: 23602
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:16 pm

Postby Winston » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:06 am

This report on Tiger Moms exemplifies what Asian American families I grew up around in CA are like.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-oiJuwo4ew[/youtube]

It's sickening isn't it? How can one attach their total self worth to their grades like that? I'm sure glad I didn't.

Check out this article I found. It describes the Asian mentality of "obey and do not question" very well.

http://freewill.typepad.com/genetics/20 ... _asia.html

The Western educational system places a burden on us (in a good way), because it forces us to be creative, ask “whyâ€￾ questions, and deeply consider human values and individual dignity. The Asian style is often one of rote memorization, accepting what you are told (whether it makes sense or not), and thinking about it later.

Asians don’t have a tradition of debate, asking questions, and doing critical analysis. Whereas there seems to be a practical desire to further one’s own happiness and wealth in Asia, there’s also a passive acquiescence toward authority. Questioning the teacher is considered impolite, and debate destroys group harmony.

Chinese students I’ve spoken with say that back home they were told what classes to take and what to study, so they didn't need to worry or question anything. They just studied what was put in front of them. It gave them a very comforting feeling.

According to Stanford professor Hazel R. Markus (in a recent NYT article):

"[S]tudies have found that Asian students do approach academics differently. Whether educated in the United States or abroad, she says, they see professors as authority figures to be listened to, not challenged in the back-and-forth Socratic tradition. “You hear some teachers say that the Asian kids get great grades but just sit there and don’t participate,â€￾ she says. “Talking and thinking are not the same thing. Being a student to some Asians means that it’s not your place to question, and that flapping your gums all day is not the best thing.â€￾

One study ... looked at Asian-American students in lab courses, and found they did better solving problems alone and without conversations with other students. “This can make for some big problems,â€￾ [says Markus], like misunderstandings between classmates. “But people are afraid to talk about these differences."

Curiosity and originality are not prized in Asian culture. So, too often Asian academics are good at generating data and publications, but don’t particularly care what it all means. They don’t want to stand out from the group, and innovation often involves conflict.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
User avatar
Winston
Site Admin
 
Posts: 23602
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:16 pm

Postby Falcon » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:17 am

At a dinner party in a Taiwanese man’s home, while we were eating good vegetarian food, our host suddenly pointed to me and told me to eat the proper way with spoon and fork together rather than just a fork, even though I was doing fine with only a fork. Now, such an action about a trivial matter was totally out of context in a carefree lax happy-go-lucky Filipino society, and totally out of the norm, especially since it is a Filipino custom in homes to eat with bare hands. But it was the Taiwanese mentality to correct even such miniscule things, even though he was a very nice man. Afterward, all the other Filipino guests at the table followed suit and used both fork and spoon as well, since we were all in his home. I don’t know why he chose to correct only me though, probably because I’m Taiwanese too, so he felt more comfortable doing that to me.


What a coincidence - I had a similar experience in Taiwan.

Once when I was eating lunch with relatives in Taiwan, they kept nagging me about the proper way to hold a fork. They wanted me to change it right that instant. I wasn't even holding it in a gross manner, just that my hand was positioned slightly differently. Other than my parents, no one else has ever said anything remotely similar to that.
Falcon
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 1653
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:59 pm

Origins of "Asian" Mentality

Postby Falcon » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:42 am

Now, the question is, why do East Asians, particularly those within the Sinosphere, tend to have these habits and mentalities? (The Sinosphere, or 汉字文化圈, is usually thought to include China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Maybe also add in Singapore.)

Throughout history, China has been a strongly unified country ruled by powerful dynasties that did not tolerate any dissent at all. Rebels, freethinkers, and dissenters were ruthlessly punished by the government, often with brutal massacres. Confucianism was overwhelmingly favored over other philosophies by the government, since Confucianism preaches societal harmony and conformity. On the other hand, philosophies emphasizing individualism and disregard for central authority (for instance, some forms of Taoism) were rigidly suppressed. So far, the Sinosphere has experienced 2,500 years of Confucian ideals, and counting.

However, many South Asians (Indians, etc.) also tend to exhibit similar mentalities. Throughout most of history, the Indian subcontinent consisted of competing kingdoms that never sought unification. Also, India did not have unifying philosophies or religions other than Islam and Buddhism (Hinduism is not a single religion, but rather a cover term for a tremendous variety of folk traditions), and none of them were as pervasive as Confucian philosophy was. In fact, in California, many South Asian kids have told stories of strict parents that make East Asian parents look lenient and open-minded by comparison.

So an alternative hypothesis is that very densely populated, collectivistic, and intensely agricultural societies would tend to develop this "repressive conformity complex" (if you will)? For millenia, China and India were by far the most densely populated parts of the world, and still are.

I'm sure more hypotheses can be brought up.

These are all very intriguing research possibilities.
Last edited by Falcon on Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
Falcon
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 1653
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:59 pm

Postby Repatriate » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:46 am

Falcon wrote:What a coincidence - I had a similar experience in Taiwan.

Once when I was eating lunch with relatives in Taiwan, they kept nagging me about the proper way to hold a fork. They wanted me to change it right that instant. I wasn't even holding it in a gross manner, just that my hand was positioned slightly differently. Other than my parents, no one else has ever said anything remotely similar to that.

That's just Taiwanese relatives being anal retentive. I'd counter that by giving them a "are you shitting me" type of look and follow that up with a question concerning the politeness of correcting other people's minor preferences for eating in front of others in a social environment. I don't let people tell me what to do in situations like this unless I know i'm in error because some people are control freaks and want to test your boundaries.
Repatriate
Veteran Poster
 
Posts: 2533
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:39 pm

South Asians too

Postby Falcon » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:10 am

Check out these comedy videos on South Asian parents: Almost exactly the same as stereotypes of East Asian parents, and with what Winston wrote above.

http://www.youtube.com/user/JusReign

http://www.youtube.com/user/AKakaAmazing



[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r0RnVCT5aQ[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmKZMGh74DU[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfJOhZrncxQ[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIHduYQ-aBg[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQysghzwhu8[/youtube]

And,

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Cpp71tpehg[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77bKBd9UH3Q[/youtube]
Falcon
Experienced Poster
 
Posts: 1653
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:59 pm

Postby Intolerant » Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:45 am

The thing about East Asian mentality is that people tend to be less religiously devout and more religiously tolerant.
Intolerant
Freshman Poster
 
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:51 pm

Postby momopi » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:47 am

Winston wrote:According to Stanford professor Hazel R. Markus (in a recent NYT article):
"[S]tudies have found that Asian students do approach academics differently. Whether educated in the United States or abroad, she says, they see professors as authority figures to be listened to, not challenged in the back-and-forth Socratic tradition. “You hear some teachers say that the Asian kids get great grades but just sit there and don’t participate,â€￾ she says. “Talking and thinking are not the same thing. Being a student to some Asians means that it’s not your place to question, and that flapping your gums all day is not the best thing.â€￾
One study ... looked at Asian-American students in lab courses, and found they did better solving problems alone and without conversations with other students. “This can make for some big problems,â€￾ [says Markus], like misunderstandings between classmates. “But people are afraid to talk about these differences."
Curiosity and originality are not prized in Asian culture. So, too often Asian academics are good at generating data and publications, but don’t particularly care what it all means. They don’t want to stand out from the group, and innovation often involves conflict.



This is just a repeat of the stereotype Asian students/workers don't communicate enough, while American students/workers talk too much.

At work we have this "weekly one-on-one" meetings between staff and managers, where the individual employees meet with their manager for an hour behind close doors to blab about anything. This type of meetings can be beneficial and communicate issues and concerns that needs elevating, but for some the idea of "one hour meeting" means to them that they find something to blab about for an hour (or longer), being chatty, or do their weekly rants to vent various frustrations to their boss.

In a 40-hour work week, 1 hour = 2.5% of 40 hours, and 2 people in a meeting for an hour = 2.5% + 2.5%. Multiplied by the number of employees under a manager or VP, I estimated that over 30% of a manager's time is spent on one-on-one's. Then you add all the other meetings on top and it gets ridiculous.

I pushed to implement some rules on meetings. For one-on-one's, I told the developers that a manager's time is worth twice as much as those working under him/her, and a VP's time is worth 4x as much. This means, for a discussion that you'd take an hour with a coworker, you should be prepared with an agenda before meeting with your manager, and to schedule the meeting for 30 mins or less. If you need to meet with a VP, 15 mins.

IMO students should be taught not only to communicate, but also to be concise and time-box the length of the discussion. They need to realize that when they're on the job, they're being paid on the clock, and meetings cost money. The cost grows significantly as the number of the attendee's to the meeting increases. So instead of daily stand-up meetings M-F (5 times/week per project), I only do M-W-F (3 times per week) stand-up's in the mornings and have them e-mail a daily status report to me at end of day.
momopi
Elite Upper Class Poster
 
Posts: 4708
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:44 am
Location: Orange County, California

Previous

Return to Asia, China, Philippines, Thailand

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests