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  • I feel like there’s a big gap between American, US, culture and Japanese culture when it comes

  • to arguing with people and having strong opinions on things. Of course this is just a huge generalization!

  • Every person is completely different. But one of the things that I noticed when I first

  • came to Japan was the seemingly lack of strong opinions by people here. Or at least the lack

  • of willingness to express their strong opinions.

  • Now, this is not including arguments on the internet! You will find crazy people arguing

  • about everything on the internet and I don't think that's a good reflection of people in

  • real life.

  • But before I get into Japan, I want to talk about American culture, my culture, a little

  • bit first. I feel like my culture values strong opinions on things. Even if you don't really

  • know much about it, or even if you don't really care about it, youre almost expected to

  • take sides in arguments. In our school system, at least when I went through school and I

  • imagine it’s still pretty similar, every year in English class we had to write countless

  • argumentative essays. An essay with an introduction, a thesis statement stating your argument,

  • three paragraphs supporting your argument, and then a conclusion. We wrote these on all

  • kinds of controversial subjects, from gun control, to the death penalty, to probably

  • abortion, I don’t even remember all of them. But we were given subjects and we had to take

  • a side and then defend that side. And the purpose was to teach us how to critically

  • think and formulate arguments, but I think a side effect of that is that it also sort

  • of ingrained into us that we need to take a side on arguments, whether we've really

  • researched it well or not, or whether we even really care about it or not.

  • And our media has always reinforced this idea that youre either on one side or another.

  • And society reinforces this idea. We talk about these things with our friends. People

  • want to know where you stand. People get into arguments about it. Sometimes friendly, sometimes

  • not so friendly.

  • And that’s how I grew up, thinking I needed to take sides on things, that taking sides

  • on things meant that you were intellectual. And I never really questioned that, like really

  • questioned whether that was necessary, until I met Jun.

  • Now I don’t want to say that Jun is Japan and that he represents Japan, but I think

  • he is very traditionally Japanese in a lot of ways, and of course he’s the biggest

  • Japanese influence that I’ve had on my life.

  • And so when I used to talk to Jun about some of these things and I would ask him his thoughts

  • and he would tell me both sides of the argument. And I would be like, “Wellwhat do you

  • think?” And he would say, “I think both sides have good points.” And I would get

  • so frustrated! I'd be like, "Take a side! What is YOUR opinion on this?!"

  • And sometimes when I would thoughtlessly say something like, “Oh, of course ____ is bad.

  • Like, of course plastic surgery is bad.” He would play devil’s advocate and he would

  • ask me, “Well, why do you care so much? Why does it matter to you what they do with

  • their own bodies? Can't they do whatever they want?” And I would be like, "What are you

  • talking about? Of course it's bad! Everything thinks it's bad!"

  • But it made me think. And over time I was like, “Why DO I care? It really ISN’T

  • any of my business.” And I don’t know where the exact change was. It was probably

  • very gradual. But eventually I just sort of stopped having a lot of these strong opinions

  • that I used to have.

  • I think part of it is also just growing up, I don’t feel like I need to answer to anyone

  • anymore. If someone asks meWhere do you stand on this issue?” I feel confident enough

  • now to say, “Meh. I don’t really have an opinion.” Which is something that I feel

  • like would have been unthinkable for me to say as a teenager.

  • I used to love having debates with people. Americans argue things for fun. Is Batman

  • or Spiderman better? Uhh obviously batman is better. Is Star Wars or Star Trek better?

  • Are you kidding me right now? We do this for fun. And I didn’t see that happening a lot

  • in Japan. And I was like, “Why aren’t people having fun conversations like this?”

  • And while I still think conversations like that are fun, I don't really have a lot of

  • strong opinions on things anymore. Basically all of my opinions revolve around "It’s

  • none of my business unless someone is hurting someone else." People ask me aaaall the time,

  • Rachel what do you think about this controversial subject in Japan?” like I should have a

  • a strong opinion where I say, “Well obviously this side is right and this side is wrong.”

  • But I don’t. Which for some reason makes some people really angry, that I’m not completely

  • on their side and trashing the opposing side. And when I read comments like that, it's really

  • shocking to me. This has happened a few times before. When I talked about whaling, I completely

  • understand both sides of the arguments. I'm not really on a side. But people would write

  • comments and they would be so angry that I wasn't COMPLETELY on their side. I was just

  • in the middle and people didn't like that. I just, I understand where the other side

  • is coming from, too. Like when we talked about microaggressions, I said those things don't

  • bother me at all. I don't care if they happen to me at all. But I also don't care if it

  • does bother someone else. People got really angry at me that I didn't completely trash

  • those people who do get bothered by it. You want me to get angry at people? You want me

  • to be hateful and rude toward someone else's feelings? This is really confusing to me,

  • the idea of getting angry at someone for being in the middle.

  • But then I remembered how much it used to bother me when Jun didn’t take my side on

  • things, and refused to do anything but be thoughtful and neutral. So, I do remember

  • being like that. I used to be like that. I used to feel like Jun having no opinions meant

  • he didn’t care about things, and that it was a bad thing to not feel passionately about

  • something. But I think that was my cultural bias. Because we really value passion. We

  • idolize people who stand up for their beliefs. And while I still understand that, now I also

  • see that Jun wasn’t being apathetic and indecisivehe was being thoughtful. He

  • was being open to new ideas and recognizing that every side has reasons for feeling the

  • way that they do. He was being a nice person. And I’ve always known Jun is a nice person.

  • It's really obvious that Jun is a super nice person. I’ve always looked up to him for

  • that, he’s someone I want to be like. I feel like he’s a better person than I am,

  • and being around him helps make me a better person, too. I don’t think I’ll ever be

  • as calm as he is, but looking back at where I used to be, compared to where I am today,

  • I think I’ve changed a lot thanks to him.

  • Of course we still do have opinions on some things, and I don’t want to say this is

  • fundamentally Japanese, or anything. It always depends on the person. But I feel like it’s

  • more common in Japan than in America—I definitely don’t see the insanely strong reactions

  • to things here in Japan that I see in America. Again, not talking about the internet--that

  • doesn't count. It can be hard for me to tell what is culturally Japanese and what is just

  • Jun, sometimes, but to me I feel like he represents a lot of the best things about Japan. And

  • I don't think I would have changed like this if I hadn't come here and met him. Thanks

  • for watching. Bye!

I feel like there’s a big gap between American, US, culture and Japanese culture when it comes

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觀點化!| 日本文化與美國文化 (Being OPINIONATED! | Japanese vs American culture)

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    Stephen 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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