My mum believed in the virtues of gathering around a table during meal times with no distractions. That meant no books, no rubik’s cubes, no electronic games, and especially NO television.
TV and dining in Taiwan
Upon coming to Taiwan, I soon discovered that televisions are very much a part of the dine-in experience. Admittedly I am a new language learner so I don’t really understand any of it. This however, didn’t stop me from being drawn in to watching in horror, as a motor scooter collided with a pedestrian. All replayed in slow motion.
I started to take notice of what was not being shown on the news. There didn’t seem to be much international coverage that I was more familiar with in Australia.
During lunch one day, within the span of fifteen minutes the following news items were reported:
• A motor scooter hitting a stationary car, replayed in slow motion.
• Someone’s failed attempt to rob a business.
• A woman complaining about the sauce at a restaurant.
Taiwanese opinion on TV
I asked three locals their opinions about the news shown in restaurants. They responded:
• The TV in a restaurant provides diners with a sense of comfort and familiarity, particularly for those who don’t want to eat alone.
• Some journalists write news based on trending topics in social media. Hence as end consumers we get to watch news stories about road accidents, complaints about sauce, and robberies.
• One respondent told me there’s a joke among students about Taiwanese journalists, “If you don’t study when you are young, you will become a reporter.”
The TV in a restaurant provides diners with a sense of comfort and familiarity, particularly for those who don’t want to eat alone.
Two respondents said that the mobile phone social media phenomenon is also changing the dine-in restaurant experience. Who needs TV when it’s instantly available in the palms of our hands?
Me and TV in Taiwan
Writing this piece and speaking to locals, I am thankful for the opportunities in which I can explore, be curious, learn, reflect about different aspects of Taiwanese culture.
As at the time of this publishing, I can report that one of our local restaurants is now broadcasting National Geographic Taiwan. So instead of watching scooters plough into cars, I am mesmerised by exotic birds flying gracefully into the maws of waiting alligators. The slow-motion technology is truly remarkable. Sorry mum 😬
– Gus, Language and Culture Learner
(Taichung, Central Taiwan)