Rudeness in Europe: from a Quora discussion. I found these scarily accurate…

15 Dec

Rudeness is not as common in Europe as it might be in some countries, but it does exist. I grew up in Europe, have worked there and have been in pretty much any situation one can be in, so I feel I can reflect a bit.

Generally in Europe, rudeness isn’t a standard retort you have to expect. People are aware of a proper way to behave, and will stay on that level as far as possible. But a point can be reached, anywhere, where that bubble bursts.

And that point comes sooner, and will be more dramatic, in some places.

I’ve had the most traumatic experiences of rudeness in my life in the US, but I think it’s safe to say that you can experience rudeness verging on violence relatively easily in the following places in Europe:

  • Austria; I’ve been accosted and screamed at openly and for no discernible or justified reason there on many occasions, and I tread very carefully there these days, knowing that the pleasantness on display is volatile.
  • Germany; it takes a while for a German to blow up, but they are very confrontational, and will seek you out if you do something in public they disapprove of. Things can get loud and violent very quickly then. When I’m in Germany, I keep my head down, challenge no one, and try to be as invisible as possble.
  • Great Britain; there is a segment of the population which, given enough blood alcohol, will turn on people. Luckily, you see them and hear them coming from a mile away. Unfortunately, there are rather a lot of them. An English town centre on a weekend night is like a zombie apocalypse.
  • France; perhaps it’s a streak of Gallic fierceness, but the French can get unbelievably angry, often as a pack and in an organised fashion, and turn violent quickly. Well, what’s new. Any time some law gets passed, a few cars are turned over and set aflame in Paris for good measure. Let’s not forget that this is where kings got their heads taken off once. I’ve once had a dog set on me by a campsite owner near Chartres for parking the wrong way around.

Rudeness in Europe usually comes from an inclination to “set someone’s head straight” about a perceived transgression against their person or public order. So in a way, when you’re being treated like that in Europe, it’s usually a sign of vigilantism, and of you being perceived as a perpetrator of some kind.

This is different from Eastern European rudeness, which is more of the hungover and self-loathing variety [ 🙂], or Scandinavian rudeness, which is usually just social awkwardness bordering on the autistic spectrum [🙂🙂*]. Or Asian rudeness, which seems to increase toward the lower echelons of mental capacity. [My emphases]

* (I came across a tweet recently: that Scandinavians embraced Lutheranism so widely and quickly because it absolved them from the Catholic sacrament of Confession, where they would have to say more than ten words at one time.)

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