Youth in Taiwan




I should have written this post about a week ago, but due to the excessive amount of homework I had to do, I could not find the time to sit down and share my thoughts on the past week.

I am now 3 days away (counting today, although, in reality, it’s less than 48 hours) from leaving Taiwan and going back home.

I want to use this entry to talk about my perception of Taiwanese society or Taiwanese youth to be precise. I can relate a lot to people my age here in Taiwan, maybe because I too was born and partly raised in a smaller (although not as developed) country, or because I feel like there is a drastic difference in the way I view the world from that of my parents. Now, what I mean by this is, my parents carry a very traditional view of life and the world. Things, according to them, should be more rigidly controlled, tradition should be followed, and there are expectations on the role one should have in their community. I, on the other hand, have drastically changed my view of what society should be. I am much more accepting toward other points of view, people, cultures, and motivations.

Now, what I have seen in Taiwanese youth is this exact same thing. I have to admit that this being my first time in an Asian country, I don’t have the proper experience to talk about other cultures, such as the Korean, Japanese or Mainland Chinese one. But from what I had read and studied, and from the conception I had of Asia overall, I have met people here that deviate a lot from those conceptions. For example, I had the idea that PDA (Public Display of Affection) here in Taiwan would be minimal. Heck, I almost never see it in the U.S.! But I have seen more Taiwanese couples kissing and ‘demonstration affection’ in public here in 2 months than I could see in Florida in a year. I could be totally wrong, but this is just my experience.

I have also met people who claim to do or to have done drugs in the past. I know this is a delicate issue, and I do not support or encourage drugs as a form of leisure by any means, but it just makes me think how much Taiwanese youth is deviating from its traditional roots. Before you refute, arguing that drug use does not really signify an appropriate topic to talk about regarding Taiwanese society, let me just say this: Isn’t part of the ‘popularity’ of drug use the fact that it’s illegal? Isn’t it partly driven by the desire to challenge the status quo and society’s taboos? It seems to me that drug usage here could be partly attributed to the Taiwanese youth’s desire to challenge Taiwanese law, which is very severe when it comes to the use and trade of illicit substances.

My point is that this is just something to think about. This could be the same story in many other countries as well, but what is it about the Taiwanese question that drives these young people to consume drugs? Maybe a whole, inherited desire to differentiate themselves from Mainland China? Or is it just Western influence?