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The perpetual â€œangry strictnessâ€ of Taiwanese/Chinese people
Why are Chinese/Taiwanese people always angry and strict?
On my recent trip to Taiwan, I immediately noticed upon arrival at the airport that the people there had this strict uptight serious look about them, which was a total contrast to people in the Philippines where I had flown in from only 2 hours away. It wasnâ€™t just a contrast, but they were like a different species altogether. It was like crossing into the Twilight Zone, coming from a place where no one is strict, uptight or quick tempered, to a place where everyone is strict, uptight and quick tempered. (figuratively speaking)
I even got the impression that smiling or saying hi to anyone would disrupt the equilibrium of the environment. One sales lady I saw at the airport even had this strict look on her face that said, â€œIf you talk to me about anything other than business, Iâ€™ll get pissed, for you will be committing a grave sin in disrupting the equilibrium of my environment.â€ Ick.
No one even makes eye contact with you, even if youâ€™re attractive or good looking. And if you make eye contact with a girl or smile, she looks horrified as if a strict unspoken rule is broken. Ick! How can human beings be like this? Itâ€™s like everyone here is in the military 24/7.
Furthermore, I began to notice another pattern I hadnâ€™t noticed before. The Taiwanese (as well as Chinese in general) seem to have this perpetual anger about them in the way they talk to each other. When you watch them interact in public, you notice a high occurrence of this angry tone in their voice, as if theyâ€™re always arguing, even in casual conversation. And often in a self-righteous tone as well. Itâ€™s not uncommon on the street to hear shouting matches either.
This is even portrayed in their TV soap operas and political commentary shows as well. In them, the actors and interviewed guests also speak in this angry self-righteous tone as if they are arguing in every little word. And their tempers are quick to flare. Anyone can see this right on TV. And in fact, even in many American movies, Orientals are portrayed as overtly angry and strict, yelling at each other as part of their natural speech.
Even Oriental movie stars have this perpetual angry look about them. For example, Bruce Lee had that angry look and personality, as well as Jet Li (in his older movies), and even the sexy Lucy Liu displays such traits in her expressions. Of course, there are always exceptions to every general rule, such as Jackie Chan.
I have been told that Koreans are like this too, that when they interact with each other casually, it sounds like they are arguing, at least to outsiders.
The best way I would describe it is as an â€œangry strictnessâ€ that is quick tempered. And itâ€™s not even about what kind of things they are strict or anal about either. There seems to be this inherent fundamental strictness in their basic personality and nature.
I wonder why this is. Being angry all the time certainly doesnâ€™t fall in line with their Buddhist and Taoist teachings and traditions. I wonder if itâ€™s a cultural thing that they adopt, or perhaps itâ€™s inherent in Chinese genes.
Since I am of Taiwanese descent, I too can sense a sort of blood boiling adrenaline within me that can make me quick tempered at times, though Iâ€™m definitely not always angry, but prefer to be peaceful, and definitely not strict at all. But itâ€™s hard to say whether that is due to my individual nature, family genes, or to collective racial genes.
Suffice to say, I notice that a lot of Chinese and Oriental people feel uncomfortable around me. And Iâ€™ve noticed this throughout my life too, especially around Oriental â€œcliquesâ€. They can sense that Iâ€™m different from them. As someone told me, most Asians donâ€™t think for themselves, they simply follow the pack, whereas Iâ€™m an exception. They are strict conformists who are very proper in their demeanor, whereas Iâ€™m a freethinker and freespirit who lives for the romantic, passionate and wild side. And somehow, that makes a lot of them a bit uncomfortable as they have no idea what to do with me or how to make sense out of me, so they often resort to just avoiding me altogether.
Likewise, their â€œangry strictnessâ€, uptight nature, and narrow insular mentality make me feel uncomfortable as well. Whereas they are strict conformists who follow the pack, I defy and challenge conventionality. I have my own way of thinking, which I fight for, and that threatens their identity, it seems, maybe because they canâ€™t be as assertive and independent as I am. Itâ€™s like we see each other as invaders of our own paradigms and reality.
This happens to be the case with my own mother as well. She has many of the â€œangry strictnessâ€ qualities typical of Chinese people. And when we are around each other, we both make each otherâ€™s blood boil. Simply put, just being â€œwho we areâ€ around each other causes friction. Recently, this seems to be a documented fact even, as we bought a blood pressure measuring device (I have mild hypertension that needs to be checked regularly) and noticed while using it that when Iâ€™m with my mom or interacting with her, my blood pressure seems to rise considerably than when Iâ€™m sitting alone doing something else.
Even though my parents practice and study Buddhism and spiritual teachings, they argue over little things and raise their temper quickly. I wonder why they have to be that way.
Taiwanese generally also love working to death. Many work 7 days a week with no days off, and actually enjoy it that way. Weird! I canâ€™t understand how anyone can be that way. But as my advisors explained, they measure everything by their practical worth, they do not live for the romantic, passionate or wild side. To them, the purpose of life is to work hard and long, suffering during the process, in order to be successful and make money. Thereâ€™s a certain honor and glory in being a workaholic in their eyes. Thatâ€™s what they live and breathe. They donâ€™t know how to live life any other way. Itâ€™s even part of their culture to constantly chant to each other â€œwork hard!â€ (â€œpah-biahâ€ in Taiwanese) as if it were some kind of religion or mantra.
To me, thatâ€™s just insane. Not experiencing life to the fullest is a wasted life to me. From my perception, they are like robots without independent thought. And from their point of view, they think Iâ€™m weird as well, cause Iâ€™m not like them! What a strange mismatch. If I were white, theyâ€™d be less surprised that I was different than them, but being a Taiwanese Asian, it shocks their paradigm completely it seems.
Another thing that I donâ€™t get is that since the economy of Taiwan has boomed the past decade, greatly improving their standard of living, why do they still have to work so hard and suffer with little freedom or enjoyment outside of that. Well one answer is of course, that like Americans, they â€œlive to workâ€ so thus no matter how well off they are, their purpose of life is still to work hard, even if theyâ€™re already rich, for the glory and honor of itâ€™s own sake. And it can be argued, they wouldnâ€™t have become a rich country if it wasnâ€™t for their workaholic busy-bee lifestyle and mentality.
One of my advisors explained that Taiwan, like other Oriental countries, is a society engineered strictly to make money, a giant money-making machine, so to speak. And thus, its citizens become like busy-bee ants laboring perpetually for that purpose. Of course, a typical Taiwanese person whoâ€™s never left the country would think this is normal, unless he/she has experienced life otherwise elsewhere.
Perhaps itâ€™s all a matter of perspective, depending on where youâ€™re coming from. From a typical Taiwanese personâ€™s view, these things are normal and Iâ€™m the â€œstrange oneâ€. Oh well. Maybe I am.
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