Thursday, August 25, 2005

Getting Jaded

I've been thinking about the differences between people in the US and people in the UK. I don't mean the political differences, the broader social context or anything like that - that's been written about plenty by every person who thinks that meeting one or two foreigners makes them knowledgeable about the politics and social mores of every country in the world. I don't have the knowledge or the patience to write about that, instead I can just ramble incoherently about what I've observed myself.

The key thing I've noticed is the fact that 'extrovert' and 'arsehole' are not always synonymous in america. Sitting around with my friends from here, getting drunk and chatting away I've noticed that those who talk loudest are always those with the least to say*. With the americans (Again, not making grand generalizations here, although it may sound like that. I'm just writing about those I know - I'm sure there are millions of boring loudmouths in america) there were people who were loud but funny and interesting - I mean funny in a non abusive way and interesting in a non car-crash sense of the word. This principle is especially evident when talking about politics; the people who shout slogans and commit themselves loudly to one cause or another are generally those who fail to understand just how transitory and complicated it all is**. When politics comes up with the group as a whole, especially when drink has been taken, it's generally someone reciting the reactionary, bigoted bollocks they read in the sun and someone else shouting slogans they heard in Rage Against the Machine songs. While this is going on the people who actually read the news and have some concept of the boundaries between editorial & reportage (and read papers that know them as well) exchange embarrassed glances over their pints and occasionally try and correct the worst of the ill-informed ranting.

I think it's a culture of modesty; generally the people who have things to say don't want to make the people who don't feel stupid, while the people who don't want to prove to everyone that they do.

And the best way they can think of is to say it very loudly.

but that's enough ranting for one afternoon.


*I harvested that from something I wrote last night talking to Sarah, I don't like to waste such rare moments of eloquence, even if it does sound like something a goth would write on his bag in biro.

**Mitch Clem puts this very well in relation to music, the blog is below the comic. (That isn't what it normally looks like)