- The economy will improve: 30% (the highest in 13 years)
- …But not satisfied with the current economic situation: 73% (satisfied: 21%)
- Pessimistic/optimistic about the future: 47%/43%
- The widening gap between the rich and the poor is worrisome: 93%
On the surface it seems like Taiwan is still covered with a flood of pessimism, but as far as I remember, it has always been like this for years. Are they really worried to their bones? I have a different theory: they might be answering "yes, I am worried" but deep down in their heart they might know they will be fine. My Taiwanese friends sometimes agree with this idea, sometimes not. The verdict is still out. (Another theory is that the research demographics and questions were biased to the extreme.)
I carry this idea of "safe worries" because of the situation happening in my home country, Japan. Not a single day goes by without seeing sensational, catastrophic news titles dancing in Japanese newspapers and magazines.
- The US army reduces its stake in Japan -> China rules the world
- Imported vegetables and crops are replacing expensive domestic products -> China rules the world
- Jackie Chen is remaking The Karate Kid and renaming it The Kung-Fu kid -> China rules the world
The real headlines are a bit more colorful than cacophony of sensational one-liners, but after viewing Japanese newspapers for a while, everything starts to look extreme, and therefore, flat. The real articles we want to read, that show us narrow paths between two extremes with sound logic and thorough research, do exist if we search hard, but not in the Google News home page.
While I find the textual noise unbearable at times, I also find it strangely reassuring. They still enjoy reading pessimistic notes. Sensational journalism suck up to the consumers (=we), and after all, we don't want to read or discuss issues if they are really, totally, fxxked. When we only have tingling feelings in our stomach, we enjoy the "professional takes on harsh realities"; when cold sweats start running on our back, it is time for the beloved gossips.
We cannot compare Japan with Taiwan, but I think our fundamental psychology does not change over cultures and countries. The pessimistic tone covering Taiwanese media is, at least for me, the sign that Taiwan is after all doing fine and people know it.