2.2.09

Americans

After two weeks in the US, two weeks of feeling like a stranger in a strange land, I was struck by what I now notice when I am back.

Like how much Americans like to banter. The chatter at work is incessant but also largely uninteresting.

Preferences for brand of Caesar salad dressing, nuances of sleeping patterns, weekend plans ad nauseum, repeating the same story over and over, poking fun at the latest overplayed news story...all the better if the story is witty and animated.

I used to wonder why Germans would often say they felt the American communication style was superficial and fake. Now I get it. In all this talking about the latest products, personal preferences, pet peeves and the minutiae of daily life, very little is ever said about anything that really matters. Quantity triumphs over quality.

Maybe the added effect of being overly sensitive to anyone speaking English makes it worse but I kept wishing everyone would just be quiet for a little while, get some work done and save the exaggerated banter for another time. I wonder if I looked the part of the stern, humorless German. Hmmmm...

Posted from London

7 comments:

Harvey Morrell said...

I wonder if I looked the part of the stern, humorless German.

Not if you're from Munich. The stern, humorless ones are up north. :)

aimee said...

guess it's a good thing i'm not in germany...i rather like american banter. it's the same reason we all ask about someone's family in the south. my perception has always been that if you don't ask and don't talk, you don't care. sometimes you get to the "deep" stuff by talking about the little stuff. and why would anyone want to share something deep with someone who can't talk about the little stuff?

Pilgrim said...

The apple never falls far from the tree.

Michelle said...

HM - really just a joke about the stereotype ;-) Most Germans, as well as most Americans, I know have a good sense of humor.

Aimee - good point. We do use the little things to get to the bigger things. I suppose also, there are even differences between North and South, let alone different countries, when it comes to friendliness and use of small talk.

Pilgrim - Of course when I am in Germany and as soon as I open my mouth they all know without a doubt where my tree grew. :)

Emily Flechtner said...

haha. i know what you mean. I work with americans after working with Germans for two years and... we chat all day. But I love it and missed it dearly. especially the self depricating humor. Sigh.

ian in hamburg said...

"In all this talking about the latest products, personal preferences, pet peeves and the minutiae of daily life, very little is ever said about anything that really matters. Quantity triumphs over quality."

Blogging in many cases, Twitter absolutely.

Diane Mandy said...

Great observation and so true!