posted on Mar, 30 2015 @ 05:08 AM
Aha! One of my favorite subjects!
I struggle with this on a daily basis, and it causes me much frustration and problems.
I never really realized how much our american culture puts emphasis on explicitness - or rather, I never dreamed anyone could enjoy or value
implicitness, until I moved to France.
Perhaps it was my upbringing, existentialism and psychoanalysis the undercurrent, being implicit was considered probably the worst sin possible.
Now I face peoples that dote on the "art of subtility" and find explicitness aggressive, violent, anti-social. My frank and direct succint way of
interaction shocks and repulses people quickly.
In my case, I have to either adapt, or accept to be a very isolated individual (which, after more than 10 years, I had had enough of). So I observe
this art, and try to learn it, but there is obstacles that seem too big.
The key to this type of communication, and the value in it, is that it is like a secret language, that can only be used and understood by people with
a shared background, experiences, memories, and values. It creates a familiar bonding between them, and distinguishes them from "others".
It gives a way for a group of people who have this same background to share a perception of the other as being "stupid" when they don't get the
meaning - which feeds the "we're superior to them" collective confidence.
I describe the experience in France, but have run into the same thing in America. Those little sayings that are meant to vehicle concepts that
otherwise would take three times as many words, can only be understood by those who get all the connotations involved...and the connotations carry
values (whether the thing is "good" or "bad"), and all sorts of emotional associations.
Being implicit is a short cut in communication, and is useful for stimulating shared emotional states. Humor is usually dependent on implicity.
One thing I can give to the french, is that they have figured out that by being implicit, criticism can be communicated in a way that stimulates humor
at the same time - like mixing medicine with sugar, it facilitates harsh messages to be received.
I try to use it here, but always seem to be a bit off key, because I can't play on the same memories. I'm proud as heck when I get some off at work
and they work! Here it is like a game- sarcastic and ironic statements going back and forth which get some frustrations and conflicts out, but keep
them laughing through it.
When I first got here, it just seemed aggressive and cruel, and I would feel hurt and offended. For me, showing a minimum of respect to someone is
speaking to them very explicitly- to me that is honesty, not playing games with their emotions.
It is so ironic that for them, being explicit is exactly the opposite - having no respect for their feelings, not even bothering to add a little
sugar, for the sake of preserving social bonds in the group.
For the most part, the average person here, (in a rural low education area) they are not at all aware that a foreigner cannot use their secret code,
if she wanted to! They've never been far from their origins and assume their experiences, associations, and values are universal. This makes for a
frustrating gulf between them and I.