jump to navigation

Friday Philosophy – You Lot are Weird April 8, 2016

Posted by mwidlake in Friday Philosophy, Perceptions.
Tags: , ,
trackback

I mean this in the nicest way, but some of you lot are weird. I’m not aiming this at individuals (though there of plenty of “personalities” amongst you) but at whole damned countries.

One thing about social media is that when you tweet, blog, facebook or whatever – you are potentially communicating beyond your own culture. This is especially true when you are doing so to a community that is spread across the globe in the way I.T. is. Maybe most of you think this is blindingly obvious {perhaps as it is} but although I think of myself as intelligent and aware – for the first 2 or 3 years of blogging I hardly considered that some of my audience would not be from the UK and thus not understand any cultural references I made about television, books, sport, the importance of a cup of tea and a biscuit. After all, why would people in the US or Australia or India care what some guy in the UK had to say?

I think I avoid that particular error more these days but I still have to occasionally remind myself that the majority of my audience “ain’t from these parts”. The largest portion of my audience is in the US – which makes sense as there are quite a few people over the other side of the Atlantic pond and a heck of a lot of IT companies. India and my home crowd come second (swapping places from month to month), and after that come several European countries, Australia, Russia and, for reasons I am not sure of, Brazil.

We have some variations across our little nation and of course individuals often do not match their cultural stereotypes but, all the same, people in Britain tend to be pretty British. When I started presenting abroad, I was conscious that I was going Over There and so I tried to use less colloquial language and make allowances for the audience not using English as their first language. But I think I remained oddly culturally unaware for a while – and it still catches me out.

What I mean about this is, sometimes, on occasion – you lot get on my nerves. You annoy me. A whole nation’s worth of you. Because you are jolly well not being British! A recent blog post by Dan Kim about not being an XXXX Ninja reminded me of this. I really have no time for people saying they are “Road Warriors” (thankfully almost a dead phrase now) or “SQL Ninjas”, “Java Master”, “Database Gods” or similar “Huh! Look AT ME, I damned well ROCK!!!” self-labelled self-grandioseing twaddle. Americans are terrible for this, the uncouth lot that they are {though Dan is from the US and does not seem very fond of it – as I said earlier, individuals always vary}.

Of course, the issue is not so much with our American cousins as it is with me. British culture, at least the bits I hang about in, is currently still rather against blatant self promotion or even making a fuss (well, not a loud fuss – we are brilliant as a nation at passive-aggressive fuss). Whereas many people in the US hold the view that you should be proud of what you can do, the things you have achieved and you should stand straight and tell the world. It’s simply a different way of being. They probably think a lot of UK people are stuffy, repressed and have sticks up their backsides. Which is pretty accurate for some of us ๐Ÿ™‚

Apparently, in Japan (I have to say apparently as I have never been there), when you are listening to someone you show respect by remaining quiet – and this extends to concerts & gigs, which can cause bands not used to it to have some issues. A crowd that does not go nuts at the end of a song (let alone during it) is just… wrong. But they go nuts at the end of the concert. {If I’ve fallen into quoting a national stereotype that does not exist, please let me know}.

Something I have encountered personally is people in Northern Europe being very direct, ie people will simply say “you are wrong about that”. To me that used to come across as rude. You are supposed to tell me I am wrong in words that don’t actually say I am wrong! “I think you might not quite understand” or “well, that is another way of looking at it”. That to them seems bizarre and, when you think about it, it is bizarre. You should just be able to state your opinion, no offence taken.

Personally I find it is not the cultural differences in language or references to shard experiences that are hardest to acclimatise to, it is these cultural changes in behavior. I have to constantly remind myself that if someone is being rude or impolite or over reacting I should first consider if that is only true when compared to my culture, and not theirs. Of course, I can only do that if I have a clue about what is normal for their culture, which is why travelling Over There to do presentations or bits of work is so helpful.

Sometimes they are being rude. Culture is not the issue.

Of course, the single, largest area of cultural difference that bothers me is beer. Lager is fine cold, cider is jolly nice cold. Real ale should be a few degrees below room temperature and not cold.

Or, as my US friends would see it – “Barman, 3 pints of beer please, and a slightly larger glass of warm piss for our UK friend”.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Jan Karremans - April 8, 2016

Thanks for the write-up Martin! Personally I find dealing with these differences one of the most interesting aspects. Not saying I would be especially good or proficient at it, though ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. thatjeffsmith - April 8, 2016

Most ‘Muricans don’t differentiate between ales and lagers. Most of us also think it’s ‘cool’ to have the beer served in an ice cold mug…which is no bueno most of the time.

3. john garmon - April 8, 2016

I almost didn’t read this, as it didn’t seem “business-y” enough (I am at work right now), but I’m really glad I did!

This made me think. Why would you DO THAT?!

john3

4. oraclebase - April 8, 2016

As you say, travelling really is the only way you can understand this.

Regarding Japan and bands, the crowd seemed very enthusiastic when we saw a girl group called Symphony-5 at the social event after a conference there, but I suspect they may have been influenced by Bjoern, who was super excited. ๐Ÿ™‚

On a different tack, I get really frustrated when idiots start talking about immigration and act like every other country in the world sucks. I find myself saying stuff like, “Have you been there? Do you know what a nice place it is? Do you know their standard of living is better than ours? Did you know their education and health care is better than ours?” etc.

It’s very easy to be closed-minded when you’ve seen nothing… ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Warm or cold, it all tastes horrible… ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Noons - April 11, 2016

One of the reasons I love this country. Last year we took a photo of the team I work directly with.
We had Australian, British, New Zealander, Portuguese, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Lebanese, Russian and Ukrainian. And next to us there are also Italians, Irish and Scots.
Very hard not to be truly “global” in such an environment! ๐Ÿ™‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: