Culture of Pleasantness

Americans have an extremely low tolerance for conflict. It’s a culture of pleasantness. This is not a bad thing at all but a side effect is that when people try to express anything they know is unwelcome, it’s so hard for them that they have to rev themselves up into a rage and hysteria to do it.

This is where the whole phenomenon of Karens comes from. Women especially have a very hard time knowing how to ask for something, so they go into an attack mode when they try. I had this experience today when a woman wanted to ask me to wear a mask in an outdoors space. I have absolutely no problem accommodating such a request but the poor thing struggled so much with making the request that she turned into a screeching harpy and almost burst into tears.

The political space is polarized and unlivable for the same reason. People don’t know how to disagree calmly. They need an excuse to say “no, I don’t agree,” so they rev themselves up with fantasies that the opponent is the ultimate evil to be able to do it.

2 thoughts on “Culture of Pleasantness

  1. How do people disagree in Ukraine? In Poland disagreements (and loud shouty arguments) are very common but mostly brief and (mostly) forgotten sooner or later and very rarely taken very personally.

    In America (mostly talking about white folks here) there’s an old cultural idea that if you’re in an argument you have to win (which means the other person says you’re right and they’re wrong) just kind of forgetting what the argument is about and moving on doesn’t happen because it means you lost.

    That’s one reason Americans mostly tend to avoid disagreements and unpleasantness – we generally have no idea how to get out of them short of the other person pronouncing our victory (which of course never happens). It’s easier to pretend there’s no disagreement rather than get caught up in a life or death struggle…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In Ukraine we are loud and passionate but conflict is easily forgotten. My mother and her girlfriends fight over politics daily, saying the most outrageous things to each other. On the next day, they make up and forget about it. I have a very high tolerance for conflict, which helps me in my job as Chair. I don’t mind people being upset with me. I can talk down the most tense situation because it doesn’t threaten me. I never lose my cool. When we had a gigantic conflict in the department that involved lawsuits, etc, I remained friends with all parties involved. I simply told them, “look I love you both but you both are being assholes about it.” And I still have a great relationship with both. The two of them, however, haven’t forgiven each other since and aren’t talking.


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