Waiting For A Subway in Taipei v. Waiting For a Subway in NY
Lining up for a subway in the East v. lining up for a subway in the West, from Liu Yang‘s East Meets West infographic series.
This illustration (and the rest in the collection) explores complex cultural differences using very simple designs.
For me, a Westerner living in the East, this year has brought numerous insights.
Liu Yang's illustrations are all about about the differences between cultures - and they've lead me to think about how self-perception might be a part of these differences.
Recently, I've been thinking about how the Taiwanese acknowledge the rights of others in public spaces. (Living in Taiwan, one quickly becomes aware of this kind of obvious cultural difference.)
It's undeniable that many (most?) Americans see their role in the world - even in small everyday encounters - in ways that are fundamentally different from the Taiwanese norm.
Besides subway queues, what am I thinking about?
I'll confess, I am afraid to drive in Taiwan.
Not because of the other people on the road. But because of myself.
More specifically, my driving instincts and habits are steeped in the American ways.
I now realize that the way I learned to merge into traffic might have deep roots in American history and culture.
Lately, I've come to question whether my American driving is an expression of "manifest destiny" and "American exceptionalism."
Whatever the history... I am afraid to drive in Taiwan.
Watching how people on the road interact, I know that driving in Taipei requires a level of trust and cooperation that is distinctly unAmerican.
Would I (a "safe" American driver) have anticipated the trusting attitude of that scooter driver?
Would I have realized what he perceived to be his rights?
Why isn't that dog afraid of this bus?
Where is that person going?
I'll let someone else drive.