sociability of Asian Americans affected by Asian values

As we approach the final stretch of our blog-based book discussion on Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, I’ve been underwhelmed by the number of comments posted. Statistics range anywhere from 5% to 33% of Asian Americans are Christians, and you’d think this would be a hot topic for discussion, generating triple-digit comments like over at pomomusings.

I couldn’t figure out the disconnect (cf. my post in March 2005 titled Asian Americans online enclaves). On the one hand, Asian Americans are the most active online compared to other racial groupings, and yet comparatively few are active in using the Internet to talk about faith, supposedly a very important thing for those who are into faith.)

Then I came across this in the New York Times piece, Google’s China Problem (and China’s Google Problem) [formerly titled “Google in China: The Big Disconnect”; cached here] ::

Chinese businesspeople, for example, rarely rely on e-mail, because they find the idea of leaving messages to be socially awkward. They prefer live exchanges, which means they gravitate to mobile phones and short text messages instead. They avoid voicemail for the same reason …

Aha! It’s an Asian sense and sensibility that meaningful conversations have to be face-to-face, and at 2nd best, at least real-time, and with people you know. And it’s been my experience that this preference of Chinese businesspeople is also true for a majority of Asians and Asian Americans. This means that advertising and marketing works very differently too for reaching this segmentation.

Disintermediated media doesn’t work for most Asian Americans. I’m the odd one out. Boo.

[update: another data point from How KitKat became Number 1 in Japan >> ” Japanese young people are suspicious and scornful of advertising.” Hmm.. and reading Cardboard’s retort that people don’t “buy products, they’re buying comfort” — it dawned on me that superstitions are particularly appealing for Asians]

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  1. Very interesting and I think you might be right. I have noticed how often I will e-mail someone in Asia and they will respond with a telephone call.

    China Law

  2. BReyes-Chow says:

    I wish I could claim such deep values and sensibilities on this one, but I have just been slacking . . . maybe the “American” part of my “Asian-American” identity has taken over? Probably not, just run-of-the-mill too much on the plate. That article is very interesting though, thanks for the resource.

  3. Eddie says:

    Hey DJ,

    I just bought that book today! 🙂 Sorry I missed most of your discussions on it, but I just finished the first chapter and chapter 7 (which almost turned me off of reading anymore).

    I think the church they use as an example in chapter 7 is so rare and such an exception, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes with almost every paragraph.

    It takes very rare senior (Korean) pastor and elder board to make it happen. I fought so hard in my previous ministry setting for almost 5 years to get on that path, but in the end, they didn’t move an inch.

    So now I’m on sabbatical, majorly drained from the fight, and in need of some inner healing (!). 🙂

    Well, that’s my 2cents I guess.

  4. bumble says:

    Or they are like me: haven’t bought the book yet 🙁

  5. Sam Choi says:

    It could very well be true that disintermediated media doesn’t work for most Asian Americans.

    What I’ve found, though, is that the Asian Americans who actually care about each other will make an effort to communicate, even via disntermediated media. They will not communicate very often with people they don’t care about, no matter how much arm-twisting is going on.

    I’ve found that the same thing is true for Koreans (Koreans who live in Korea). With close friends and others they care about, Koreans will be practically inseparable (even via disintermediated media such as Cyworld and Nate.com), but they don’t bother to communicate at all with people they don’t really care about.

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