Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
This reminds me of the years I lived in Japan. The people, one on one, were very friendly, but in groups, especially on the trains, they were very cold and never looked at you, or anyone else for that matter. I always thought this was a defense against the sheer weight of numbers; building a personal cocoon of aloneness.
I definitely agree with you on that, but sometimes it's just some combination of genetics and culture I think.

A couple with whom we're very friendly has traveled absolutely everywhere; one of the perks of being childless I think.:)

Anyway, they were telling me stories of traveling in Eastern Europe and how nobody smiled at anyone else. My friend, who is a very "smiley" person indeed asked her Czech tour guide why people seemed to smile so little, and the answer was, well, we smile when we have a reason to smile.

I thought that was a pretty funny answer. Smiling is a way of signaling friendliness, lack of threat, the building of a bond, not because you're wildly happy.

It's the same thing in terms of wanting to be alone. I lived in Manhattan for eight years. You do sort of cocoon yourself in your own space; reading a book or listening to your own music while on the subway for example, because you're experiencing sensory overload; it's just too much. Or else you're so stressed dodging cars and pedestrians that you really don't have time to notice people around you.

What, however, could explain this except some ingrained desire not to connect too much with other people? I would feel uncomfortable if I didn't at least say hi, terrible weather, or been waiting long or smiled or something. They're two women as well, so no fear factor.

Waiting for a table at a restaurant in Italy