Thursday, March 29, 2007

The fine art of subtlety

It has recently come to my attention that Singaporeans aren't the most subtle of people. And it's not that they're straight shooting people. It's more the issue that they are unaware as to the impact their remark causes. Subtlety is important. It says you have some sort of social awareness of what might or might not be kosher. It shows that there is also some sort of filter between the raw, unmitigated thoughts that appear in one's head and what is actually said out loud.

I would have thought that this was a given as a social skill. But apparently, it's not. Sometimes the intent may be good but the tone just leaves much to be desired. Sometimes, it's blatant stupidity and ignorance that is obvious and there's nothing you can do about it except fantasise about throwing a brick at that person. And you sigh and are resigned that there are people like that out there. Often they are also the ones that are the first to get defensive when they are at the end of blunt comments, not realising that they are basically getting a taste of their own unsubtle medicine.

My conclusion is that there is no way of dealing with such people, you laugh and you smile as if you don't think much about it, with giant thought bubbles forming with phrases that have to be acronym-ised in order to keep that thought bubble from bursting forth into a torrent of phrases that would even make a sailor cringe.

There is a great amount of unsubtlety in society. You see it everywhere. In architecture, in the way people dress, the way they eat, in the choice of cars, everything. So I shouldn't be so surprised that people are also unsubtle in the ways in which they communicate with one another. I think that is the true mark of a civilised society. Understated class, rather than over the top vulgarity which is the pinnacle of unsubtlety. And despite what the government claims, we are closer one end of the spectrum than the other.

Which end?

It would be unsubtle for me to spell it out, wouldn't it?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:30

1 thoughts...

1 thoughts...

At 8:49 pm Blogger ed-infinitum said...

One of the causes for a lack of subtlety is a culture that breeds viciousness and self-centredness. Where top-down oppression is countered via 'socially appropriate' means that basically leaves it unaddressed directly, the people are left with little option than to do unto all that which is done unto them. Collective social apathy is the result as people are unable to afford a considerative and compassionate thought for another. From this springs a host of other consequential phenomena, one of which, is a lack of subtlety. Vulgarity in all forms result. When the generic is corrupted, all subsidiary forms of social behaviour and thought follows suit. Interesting article.


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