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Culture International Voices

How Technology Impacts Taiwanese Homelife

Amy Fu November 11, 2018

If you ask me 10 years ago how I keep in touch with my friends, I would tell you without hesitation their phone numbers that I memorized by heart. But now if I need to call someone from a different phone without my contact list, I would give up.

I don’t even call them anymore!

Think about how much time you spend on the Internet every day. I spend a lot of time on Instagram, LINE and Spotify, keeping in touch with friends and entertaining myself. Unlike your typical American social media user, I am from Taiwan and I have lived there most of my life. The way we use social media is very different from here.

As a result, when I came to America on an exchange program, I saw many similarities and differences between social media in Taiwan and the United States. The evolution of technology in both countries influences how people socialize, interact with others and create their lifestyles.

Schools were usually the place where people my age came to socialize at but it is different now. Social media apps have become my generation’s main social tools, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. For example, Instagram is increasingly popular in Taiwan. Most Taiwanese like to share their thoughts, lifestyles, fashion ideas and exotic vacation destinations.

For those reasons, snapping a picture first becomes everyone’s habit. We have created a phrase to describe this phenomenon as “cell phones eat first” or “shou ji xian chi” (手機先吃) in Mandarin. Similarly, using social platforms is also universal in the U.S. I know that there are also Americans who want to become famous on Youtube so they start to post videos in hope one day their content will be viral.

We can’t seem to live without our smartphones nowadays. As I mentioned, because of “cell phone eat first,” most Taiwanese would take photos of their food and spend a majority of time editing them instead of talking to other people in the same table before the meal. Too much time is subsequently spent on editing photos and picking the perfect one to post on Instagram while they are eating.

As I notice about my friends, we don’t usually call each other as much as we used to do. Phone apps like LINE and Facetime have made it easier to call someone inexpensively. In Taiwan, the most popular messaging app is LINE. I will say that Taiwanese is more addicted to their phones than Americans. I haven’t seen Americans using their phones while eating with friends in restaurants. They seem to sincerely enjoy having a conversation with each other.

On the other hand, thanks to the invention of the computer, people rarely need to work on paper. We often bring a laptop and our phone to the workplace. We use email to communicate and create our own network system to make our lives easier. For instance, Temple University has TU portal and Canvas to provide essential information to students. Tamkang University, where I studied, has iclass to let professors communicate with students.

With these advances, professors can give students information anytime anywhere. Professors can also cut down their walk-in hours and students don’t have to physically go meet them. Moreover, when students have a group assignment, they can create a group on Google to collaborate. In both Taiwan and the U.S., students can meet outside of class and they can do their homework at the same time at different places.

In short, technology influences people a lot. It creates opportunities for someone to be famous. It also brings a lot of convenience that allows easier and inexpensive communications. When people look up places to travel to, they don’t go to the bookstore and read travel books anymore. Most often, they would google or open Instagram and see where others recommend. Therefore, I look forward to how technology will further improve our lives in the future.