“My Girlfriend Said She Won't Live with My Mom in the Future”: Online Discussion about Relationship in Taiwan

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 12:45 PM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Min-Yue HSIAO , Interdisciplinary Information School, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
The contemporary self-help culture raises scholars’ interest, through it to investigate whether the discourse and imagination of intimate relationship or biographical pattern and life decisions. However, although people still rely on advices and counsels from self-help books and manuals written by experts and professionals when they are troubled by a problem about relationship and life, more and more people login to online forums to ask for advices from other ordinary people. Not only in new media but in non-western context is the self-help culture significant and prosperous, though in different ways from western societies on which most studies concentrate. Therefore, this study aims to inquire the advising interaction about intimate relationship on an online forum (Boy-Girls) of Taiwan's largest virtual community (PTT).

Through a yearlong fieldwork and discourse analysis in this community, I examine the discourses about intimacy in Taiwan and compare with what have been suggested in the previous studies based on the Western self-help literature in printing media. The online advising discussion shows different concerns and discourses about intimate relationship, and has a different relationship between advisers and advisees. First, family issues, gender difference, and ethics of relationship are main themes in the discussion. Secondly, comparing to what have been indicated in the past, the discussion in virtual forum concerns less self-centered than ethics-centered, less /value of self than equality between genders. These discourses may promote a perspective of intimacy based on rather mutually dependent partnership than ego-centered atomic individuals. Finally, the pattern of the production of discourse in online forums is different from the way structured in mass media which allows only one author/expert/advisor preaches their ideas/experience/strategies to the mass audience. In this sense, the different relationship between advisers and advisees in new media, I argue, is the reason resulting in different discourses about intimate relationship and self.