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SoCal Angst

I'm pretty solidly California-ficated these days. My tolerance for cold weather is nearly as weak as any native's, I accept traffic as a fact of life and weather is something I visit, not experience. I've even somewhat come to grips with the rather-too-casual attitude people have towards making plans; where, "I flaked" is considered a valid excuse for not showing up to an appointment you've agreed to.

But one thing I continue to have a very hard time with, and will perhaps never accept, is the degree to which people avoid any confrontation, no matter how necessary and right. I get that society here is much more laid back than East Coast culture - insult humor is generally not practiced, sarcasm is not the de rigeur response to everything in life, and people are generally more kind and welcome rather than brash and brusque. I actually like that, and have adapted. But we go too far.

I have in the past complained that there is no social wrong that anyone could commit that would be worse than actually calling them to task on it. In other words, if you shot my dog, I'd be the asshole when I said, "Hey, you shot my dog!" not you for doing it. Because to draw attention to a problem, no matter how serious, is in the hierarchy of sins here, far worse than to cause the problem in the first place.

This has never been more clear than lately, when - and I shall name no names nor cite any specifics - it came to light that one friend had very seriously wronged another. Because this was serious indeed it couldn't be ignored - like, to do would have been perhaps criminally negligent. I don't want to go into too many details. But what hurts my heart is that the people who have dealt with the issue are perceived as the villains of the piece, and not the instigator. I do not know what to do. It causes me much angst, as I have a tendency to try and deal with problems, especially serious ones, rather than brush them under the carpet.

Battle lines have been drawn. I have some hopes that the end of the drama is in sight, but it is only because enough people have stopped talking about it that there are no more sides to take. I feel ashamed to have been in any way associated with such a deep moral failing...but I've worked hard not to descend into negativity and blaming, but instead to work towards some accommodation of everyone's feelings. Rather than say, vent my own.


There's a reason why Captain America was a New Yorker, and not an Angeleno. Because Cap wouldn't put up with this shit, let me tell you.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only person who has seen this in California. I suspect that even after 12 years, I'm still alienating people because I can't quite silence my sarcasm...
Oct. 25th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
Yeah. I do get criticized (and sometimes disliked) for being "too confrontational" - but I have toned it down a lot, and tried to cultivate a more laid back approach. Still, I'll never be one to let drop what properly ought to be dealt with, in the name of "avoiding drama."
Oct. 25th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
Heh. This made me quite a few enemies in that area as well.
Oct. 25th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
A few weeks ago the principal at Katie's school announced that children couldn't play with tennis balls unsupervised because *tennis balls hurt children.*

Trying not to be sarcastic about that just about broke me, and I'm sure that parents now think I'm not a team player...

(Nevermind that I will always chip in and try to help. I just won't be all nice while I'm helping.)
Oct. 25th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)
No, I will walk into a PTA meeting with $100 worth of Spaldings if I have to to prove that point.
Oct. 25th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
There are many reasons Northern Californians can't stand Angelinos. That's one of them.
Oct. 25th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
Yeah....that's not really unique to Los Angeles.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 25th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
Sad but true.
Oct. 26th, 2011 06:15 pm (UTC)
You're right, man. When you're right you're right. It's the culture of "meh" here.
Oct. 27th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC)
The behavior all comes down to something I've pointed out in the past: horizontal creep. On the East Coast most communities go vertical and are close together. People are forced to interact with the same individuals in closer quarters and thus have a greater motivation to air out their issues lest they fester. On the East Coast--and especially in Los Angeles--communities spread vertically. The likelihood of running into the same people over and over dramatically diminishes. If one experiences conflict, it's much easier to turn the other cheek and drive on by since the likelihood of running into that person again is slim to none. In turn, the skills East Coasters develop at an earlier age don't really develop in L.A., so when conflict arises within a social circle the anger tends to be directed not to the offender who caused someone angst but rather the one who called the offender on it.

So goes my theory. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with the fallout, but does provide some context as to why it happens. Of course, the converse is true. East Coasters, particularly the northeast cities where things are very densely packed together, are quicker to call one another out when some situations don't really warrant it. Though hyperbole, some of the situations brought up on Jersey Shore demonstrate how mountains can be made of mole hills quite readily. Granted, not the best example to bring up but I just wanted to illustrate the point.

There's a happy medium between highly vertical and highly horizontal, high population societies. The trick is getting the extreme ends of the spectrum to recognize this.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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