Germany: Conformism and its consequences

152 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi Steve,

 

Maybe it's just where you live.

 

Firstly, I have never heard of adults not being allowed to sit in a park when children are 'supposed' to be there. Could you explain that? I'm puzzled by that.

 

Secondly, I went to the Globe Theatre in Neuss yesterday for a double bill and everyone was happy and smily and I talked to loads of German strangers who were all thrilled by the acting. And these were older people (older than me anyway).

 

Also, when I go out walking here, I get lots of 'hellos' and 'good mornings' from strangers. Maybe it's the region.

 

Any chance of going on holiday somewhere else in Germany and seeing if you feel the same there?

 

P.S. I find I am freer here. I don't have to conform as I am a foreigner. In the UK, my British, graduate colleagues found me 'not normal'. Here... I'm just accepted as I am and no-one has bullied me or called me 'not normal'. Here... people actually listen to what I say and are pleased to see me. There, I was given the cold shoulder and ignored. Oh, and bullied and had nasty comments made to my face.

 

You really have to try another region. Did you have this problem before you moved to where you are now?

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Posted

I think we get over-sensitized to rules. We also need to differ between rule and practice. The UK highway code is also very strict on beeping one's car horn for instance so I am not sure why it is a surprise to a Brit that Germany has the same. Do Germans in the UK get all annoyed about it and see it as a sign of a controlling British state? Watever, I don't think Brits in our own country give it a second thought. Jay-walking may be banned by law (no idea) but plenty of us routinely do it.

 

It's about how we choose to engage in large part. Not smiling? I smile more here than I've ever done anywhere else. Gets massive returns, here's one :D . Not talking loudly? Well, why would that be necessary? To assert one's presence? The braying English speaker who has not noticed that other people are not doing it but insists on letting everyone else know the dreary minutae of their unoriginal life is one of the banes of my cafe life here (and indeed in other European nations) to be honest.

 

My life here is certainly a great deal of fun but then I know there's often local differences and DA is probably about as tolerant as Germany gets :) .

 

PS - Try tuning into the women's world cup final tonight. That's been a barrel-load of German-delivered fun!

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Posted

 

What are other TTlers thoughts on this topic?

 

I think that I see and hear enough about asocial behavior in the UK to rather appreciate the regulations in Germany that make it such a pleasant place to live.

 

But read for yourself the many, many topics other TTers have written over the past nine years about life in Germany; you can find them by using the search function and browsing the forum.

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Posted

Have you been back to the UK at all since you've been here (eg for short holidays?)? I think maybe you're looking at it through rose coloured glasses. I've only been in Germany for three years but I wouldn't say I find the Germans any more or less friendly towards strangers. Maybe it depends where in the UK you're originally from. I grew up near London which is, like all big cities, not packed with people wanting to participate in small talk on their way to work. I occasionally find the old ladies here in Germany who want to stop and chat on the trams a little annoying at times. At Christmas I was on a train in Manchester at about 10am and I was genuinely horrified at the filth of it. The floor was incredibly sticky, it smelt like vomit and there was rubbish everywhere. Because of the time of day I was forced to conclude that the train cannot have been cleaned the night before. YUK! I don't think everything is better here or that everything is better there. Some things are just different. Perhaps you need a holiday away from Germany for a while. When you've been observed by over 300 speed cameras in the space of one day you might think that stopping jay walking would be a better use of council resources!

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Posted

I have observed at meetings in modern service industry businesses where German people are often literally frozen in place to verbally critisise for fear of potentially being issued a legal summons for impugning some one's character. Giving someone the V whist driving or not using the correct form of address with a public " official " is also punishable.

 

Their reputation for " direct-ness " seems to only apply when they believe a rule has been infringed upon or they are exhibiting " Besserwisser " behaviour over the most trivial of things. Principled stances appear to be few and far between. Sad.

 

The English word " cowed " does seem to apply. The Japanese are like this as well. Learn to moo, or carry on as usual and use your Auslaender invisibility cloak and enjoy watching them squirm. Real people ( the new generation of professional Germans with overseas work / educational living experiences and children ) are slowly taking over any way, and the perpetrators of the behavior you describe really cannot do anything about it because the are so uptight that they can no longer sucessfully reproduce themselves.

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Posted

Joined: 17.Apr.2008

Hi Steve,

 

Maybe it's just where you live.

 

Firstly, I have never heard of adults not being allowed to sit in a park when children are 'supposed' to be there. Could you explain that? I'm puzzled by that.

 

Secondly, I went to the Globe Theatre in Neuss yesterday for a double bill and everyone was happy and smily and I talked to loads of German strangers who were all thrilled by the acting. And these were older people (older than me anyway).

 

Also, when I go out walking here, I get lots of 'hellos' and 'good mornings' from strangers. Maybe it's the region.

 

Any chance of going on holiday somewhere else in Germany and seeing if you feel the same there?

 

P.S. I find I am freer here. I don't have to conform as I am a foreigner. In the UK, my British, graduate colleagues found me 'not normal'. Here... I'm just accepted as I am and no-one has bullied me or called me 'not normal'. Here... people actually listen to what I say and are pleased to see me. There, I was given the cold shoulder and ignored. Oh, and bullied and had nasty comments made to my face.

 

You really have to try another region. Did you have this problem before you moved to where you are now?

 

Yes, Nina, you make some good points there. I have actually thought about moving to another region, although I discounted it because my general beef is with not just with the number of rules one has to follow, but the fanatical policy of rule-enforcement here (where the least little rule is pursued with a vengeance). In other words, it wouldn't help in the long-run, since my beef is as much with the power structures that enforce these rules as with the rules themselves. I also have other issues that I didn't mention, such as the heavy-handed tactics of the German police and judiciary. And, whilst on that topic, the willingness of German people to almost bow before authority is also something that not only annoys me, but actually worries me, since it allows all sorts of abuse of power to follow in its wake. Don't you think this williness to go along with rules uncritically explains bad customer service, for example, since if there isn't a culture of holding authority to account, you can't really expect the same assertive customer posture towards service providers to have developed as in the UK or US?

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Posted

http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=222945&view=findpost&p=2473771

 

Yes, Nina, you make some good points there. I have actually thought about moving to another region, although I discounted it because my general beef is with not just with the number of rules one has to follow, but the fanatical policy of rule-enforcement here (where the least little rule is pursued with a vengeance). In other words, it wouldn't help in the long-run, since my beef is as much with the power structures that enforce these rules as with the rules themselves. I also have other issues that I didn't mention, such as the heavy-handed tactics of the German police and judiciary. And, whilst on that topic, the willingness of German people to almost bow before authority is also something that not only annoys me, but actually worries me, since it allows all sorts of abuse of power to follow in its wake. Don't you think this williness to go along with rules uncritically explains bad customer service, for example, since if there isn't a culture of holding authority to account, you can't really expect the same assertive customer posture towards service providers to have developed as in the UK or US?

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Posted

Can anyone please tell me how I can respond to each individual reply to my post? Can't seem to work out this bloody setup here!

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Posted

Click onto the text you want to reply to with the left part of the mouse and "mark" it , then click multiquote, click Add reply! Good luck with that! By the way, what´s the English for " markieren ", everyone? (Please!)

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Posted

Cheers for that, John! For a translation of "markieren" I would tend to say highlight in this context.

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Posted

Just click on the message envelope and you can send a PM!

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Posted

 

It's a rant, folks. Many of us have felt the same way at one time or another. It comes and goes.

 

I agree here. I went through mine and expect to go through another before I leave. Its a reminder you're alive. Although comparing it to Huxley well...I think that there in itself is a wonderful in person conversation but not on the net. I have had a few of those conversations here in Germany. All with Americans which I found awesome. Good luck dude on your travels through the abyss.

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Posted

Thank you , too , Flying!! I´m normally the least able one on Toytown to show someone how things work!!! :D ( Mind you, I now know what a space bar is!!! )

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Posted

 

Thank you , too , Flying!! I´m normally the least able one on Toytown to show someone how things work!!! ( Mind you, I now know what a space bar is!!! )

 

Then you know more than me john!space bar???do they sell cider there?

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Posted

 

Can anyone please tell me how I can respond to each individual reply to my post? Can't seem to work out this bloody setup here!

 

That's another good reason for finding out first how a forum works, then sharing your thoughts.

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