Some Thoughts on Social Relationships

Have you ever felt weird when seeing children or students calling their parents or teachers by their first names and interacting as if they are close friends in American movies? Have you also ever been surprised by seeing how straightforward and honest American people can be when expressing their own thoughts and feelings in public? I still remember how uncomfortable I felt when I first experienced.

Americans believe in their social equals and highly value freedom and self-reliance; social rankings do not seem to bear as much significance as they do in eastern cultures. People tend to be more open-minded to everything and are easier to involve in informal and casual talks with others about all kinds of topics. I do find living in the States less stressful because people are tolerant of individual differences and are encouraged to freely express themselves. However, I also sometimes find that there may be too much emphasis on individual freedom  so that there are not enough ties and respect among people.

As brought up with Asian values and traditions, I believe in the importance of individual modesty and the value of group cooperation. Because of the hierarchy in society, people are educated to know their position and the rules for behavior. People are reserved because they concern and try to keep the harmony in society by avoiding direct confrontation with and open criticism on others (the so-called “save face” culture). There are relatively more assumptions and constraints in society, which sometimes make it difficult to tell what people really think unless it becomes a close friendship.

Every culture is unique and deserves respect. I think that the exposure to both eastern and western cultures does help people get to appreciate good values and traditions of other cultures which may become a positive influence in their lives.

What do you think?

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2010 at 8:39 pm and is filed under Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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