Part of culture shock during my initial year in Taiwan, which began in July of 1976, was the dearth of English language reading matter. I hadn’t realized how MUCH I had habitually read before getting to a place where there wasn’t that much to read just lying around or on billboards and such. One consequence was that I absorbed almost everything printed in the daily English language newspaper, a house organ of the ruling Nationalist Party, which in those days was virtually the English language version of the Central Daily News, the OFFICIAL party paper. BOTH of these publications disappeared early in the 21st century.
Getting all of one’s news from a single source, we’ve learned, is a dangerous thing. Getting it all from a rabidly partisan source is possibly perilous. After a year of that diet, I was beginning to consider the possibility that any day the forces of the ROC military, under the leadership of one general or another, would be launching the attack that would recover China under the Three Principles of the People. After all, the headlines on otherwise numbingly dull reports about meetings held here and there in Taipei seemed to indicate so. It took but a gentle challenge from a freshly arrived volunteer from upstate New York oto send that house of cards tumbling down.
Headlines can summarize, entice or repel readers who are scanning for something to read. In these days of social media, they can be clickbait. The local newspaper that I now read on the 6 days it arrives every week (there’s no Monday edition) sometimes has real clunkers and sometimes uses acronyms decipherable only by VERY long-term residents. A week ago there was one that made me want to put down an entire section:
Dog Vomit Slime is Good for Your Plants.
I really don’t care that it is, I’m going nowhere near it.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.