I generally don’t like stereotypes or blanket generalizations, especially when encompassing groups of people who determine where I will live, what I eat, and how much I get paid each month, but I think I may have stumbled upon the root of many complaints of foreigners living in Taiwan…
The idea of truth
I was discussing this with a friend of mine who’s really getting dumped on by her boss. The boss doesn’t perceive the things she’s promised to my friend but not followed through on as being dishonest. She has also had a restaurant lie to her about the whereabouts of her credit card when she discovered they didn’t return it to her after dinner (they’ve lost it although their manager had seen it in a safe that only other managers have access to). And in the middle of this, I had a profound heavenly revelation (not the first of them, but that’s a whole 'nother story):
The concept of white lies in Taiwan is completely different from what we know in the west. In the west, we generally will tell a white lie about our opinion or observations to keep our friends and allies happy, but find it very important to tell the truth when it comes to things that are factual.
In Taiwan, the opposite is generally true. They will tell you that you’re too fat, too black, have a big nose, and stink, but when it comes to things like giving directions, when they’ll finish your project, or saying that they’ll come in for a parent-teacher conference, these are all things deserving of mistruth believed to be harmless and necessary in order to maintain harmony and keep everyone happy.
Should I patent this idea or what?