I think we all know the answer to that. For all the traditional charm of the abacus, the calculator is a clearly superior piece of technology, and one that is far better suited to the task.
A similar line of thinking would apply with mobile telephones versus smoke signals or trains versus a horse and cart.
Why, therefore, would anyone actively choose to eat with chopsticks when given the option of using a knife and fork?
For people who have grown up using chopsticks, I can perhaps understand this. Knives and forks may be unfamiliar, and it’s easier to use what you know.
What makes no sense at all is people who have grown up with knives and forks choosing to use chopsticks when they can have a knife and fork. If I’m in a Chinese restaurant and I’m presented with chopsticks, then it makes perfectly good sense to ask if a knife and fork is available. If there is, wonderful, I’ll use them instead. If there isn’t, then I’ll struggle through with the chopsticks, despite there not being a single foodstuff on earth where they are the better utensils to eat with. This includes, ironically, rice – something for which chopsticks are particularly ill-suited, despite rice being the staple food in the parts of the world where chopstick use is traditional.
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It’s like toilets. People who have grown up with squat toilets may prefer to use them as they’re more accustomed to them, but no-one in their right mind could say a squat toilet is better than a proper toilet.
And, naturally, no Western visitor in Asia would choose to use a squat toilet when a perfectly good normal toilet is available.
Yet, given chopsticks, people will decide that it’s all about respecting cultural differences rather than picking between a clearly superior and clearly inferior technology. The desire to look good by showing that they can use chopsticks overrules logic and common sense.
If this is you, then I’ve a handy piece of advice that you may want to bear in mind next time you’re offered a choice of chopsticks or knife and fork. It is this: No-one is impressed that you can use chopsticks. Absolutely no-one.