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How To Take Everything Personally In Australia

The key to understanding Australians is the realization that they take everything personally. Everything. Every comment, every opinion, every obscure observation bears a relationship to the self that other cultures don't experience. Here's a hypothetical conversation to illustrate my point:

SWARTHY STRANGER WITH FUNNY ACCENT: Gordonya Mayt, you're havink flat tyre.
RELAXED, EASY-GOING AUSSIE: Whaddayamean I've got a flat tyre? Ya avin' a go at me, mate?
SWARTHY STRANGER WITH FUNNY ACCENT: No, just sayink. It not good for your car drivink with flat tyre, and you wearink grooves in road.
SEPPO WITH AMERICAN ACCENT: Hey dude, he's right, you've got a flat tyre.
RELAXED, EASY-GOING AUSSIE: Shut the eff up mate. It's none of your business. If I want to drive around with a flat tyre, I will. Shut the eff up, Seppo, go home, arrogant yank! And you you wog, if you don't like it here, go back where you came from... we're full!

Slightly exaggerated and tongue-in-cheek, but I'm sure we realize where we're going with this. Aussies take EVERYTHING personally. You may not see it, because these things lie beyond mere words. And they are always telling you to be relaxed and easy-going, and so it must seem to you that they are oh-so-relaxed and easy-going. So you imagine them to be on a higher Nirvanic plain of easy-goingness and karmic relaxedness. They live according to a secret code, a special bond, to which you, as a lowly visitor from another country, are not privy. You think it's about mateship, and you think that it just requires a little more time for you to settle in before you can inhale its exquisite mystery... but there's something else that eludes you, that you can't quite put your finger on. And if you look carefully, there seems to be a fly in their precious ointment... if you are alert, it might begin to dawn on you that they perceive the world to always revolve around them. EVERYTHING is always all about them. Aussie Aussie Aussie! oi! oi! oi! Me! me! me! Look at me! Notice me! Don't insult me! Don't criticize me!

'Nuff said. Aussies are the most balanced people in the world... they have a chip on both shoulders.

And you Seppos also need to stop projecting... just because Aussies are always reminding you that they are relaxed and easy-going does not mean that they are relaxed and easy-going. And when they tell you to stop being so uptight and taking things so seriously, perhaps it is they that are projecting.

Have a nice day :)
seatbelthoon seatbelthoon 41-45, M 9 Responses Sep 24, 2012

Your Response


"it might begin to dawn on you that they perceive the world to always revolve around them. EVERYTHING is always all about them. Aussie Aussie Aussie! oi! oi! oi! Me! me! me! Look at me! Notice me! Don't insult me! Don't criticize me!"

spot on!

Haha so true!

"they have a chip on both shoulders." haha! nice one!

Tomorrow7, just to clarify, it's not a question of whether a culture is all good or all bad. You will get good and bad in any culture you go to. What it comes down to is what a culture stands for. Refer to my reply to sussingitout. Of course "sweet natured" and "polite and well-mannered" Australians exist, as they do in any culture. The thing is, though, how difficult are things for authentic people, in this most inauthentic of cultures? What compromises do they have to make in order to survive? What are their insecurities? Are you always going to be able to connect with them, given the baggage (contexts and assumptions) that they have to grapple with every day of their lives? There is a lot about Australian culture that is toxic, and so you need to be careful about who it is that you place your trust in. Beware of their proclivity to pre-empt hostile intent, whether real or imagined... do you have the patience to mollycoddle them, reassure them that you meant no harm, for example, in some throw-away line that you gave no thought to? "Sweet natured" is not always as it seems, especially in Australia. And much of what I write is also for the benefit of those Australians trying to find themselves - they need to look outside of Australia for establishing their identities, as Australia has little to offer them beyond toxic mind-swill. As far as I'm concerned, Australian culture is a lost cause, but that does not mean that there are no decent people among them.

Regarding my cultural background, sussingitout, yes you may ask :)

Trying to understand any culture, whether your own or a foreign one, requires enormous effort. There's a lot of projection that you've got to wade through in order to try to apprehend the most objective factors that are relevant. For example, a common assumption is that Australians are relaxed and easy-going when in fact it is the opposite that is closer to the truth. Australian easy-goingness is not a liberty, but a constraint. A rule of social conduct does not a liberty make.

Another common flawed assumption is that Australia is a classless society. It is not. Australia is more accurately described as a single-class society, and this is best understood from the perspective of Australians' resistance to differences, the pressure to assimilate, and various other cultural traits, such as mateship and the tall-poppy syndrome. Think of Australia as a culture that emphasizes the distinction between "us" versus "them". There is only one class that is legitimate... the "us". You don't want to be a "them". It is inaccurate to describe Australia's "elite", like Sydney's North Shore, or Melbourne's Toorak, as upper class... they are too enmeshed in their obligations to the single class to acquire an identity that is willing to assert itself.

Another flawed assumption is that Australians are "honest" when in fact it is the opposite that is true. What do Australians mean when they use the word "honest", and what do you mean by it? If, by honest, you mean forthright, direct and the absence of secrets, then that is definitely not what Aussies mean. Aussies are inclined to interpret "honest" as the right to stand up for yourself, the right to "say what's on your mind" or, to put it another way, the right to be rude. From one perspective you assume the best in others, while from the other perspective you assume the worst. "Honest" is one word, but it has multiple interpretations that can be worlds apart in meaning.

Different cultures attribute different contexts to their words. Australian culture comes with a lot of baggage that you won't be able to relate to. That's why Aussies are inclined to conflate confidence with arrogance and honesty with rudeness.

It all comes down to this... what does your own culture stand for? And then you've got to compare it with what Australian culture stands for. More specifically, what do you stand for? If you cannot understand these distinctions and what it is that you are trying to resolve, then your stay in Australia may well be destined for heartbreak.

Wow, l almost emigrated to there when l was 16, l would not have stood a chance!. l wouln not go because l had heard their spiders are Huge and l am scared of even the tiny ones!well the culture was started by Britain's tough uncouth defensive prisoners. Yet the only Australian l have known was 'polite and well mannered' but that was back in the 1970's her name was 'Linda Hassell' and l have spent decades trying to find her because in the process of moving home l lost her Aussie address, l assumed all Aussie's were as sweet natured as her!.

I'm sorry but coming from an Aussie the poster points out a lot of truths about the failings in our society. we have pros for certain but we also have many cons to living here. We're certainly not cultured like other nations and I think that is probablya big part of what is missing in our country. And certainly a lot of Australians are racist and those people very much have the old white view of not really liking what is different. But it certainly isn't everyone, a lot of us are not like this but many are. And certainly we're an offensive culture and easily riled up, the laid back take it easy thing really only applies until people get mad. I will say I don't think aussie's hold onto grudges like others do. Most people are very brash and as this poster has pointed out can frankly be very rude in stating their opinions or if you disagree with them. But not all aussies are like this, still a lot are, therefore people who come here under the illusion of everyone getting along, and Australia being a leader in the world in seeing past cultural differences are going to be in for a shock. You want European countries for that (not England though)

You're insane! Aussies do NOT take everything personally OMG!! I live in the States now and I can't stand how personally everybody takes every little thing. I miss being around easygoing people!

How do you know that it's not you that's taking everything personally? Is it you that is inferring a meaning that others don't share? In other words, what are you projecting?

The Aussies don't take things personal only if it's coming from other assies

Funny one! May I ask your cultural background? I saw your reply to my post! Strong words! I am on my exploratory adventure as I write. Torn between the pros (which are undeniable) and the cons, which are sadly undeniable as well! Feels like I am in a bad marriage with Australia and weighing up the costs and casualties of departure which includes a bit of broken heartedness at having to give up things and people that I love to gain some other essentials! Thanks for the feedback and an amusing and rather true post here! :-)

I agree I often feel the same way being dissatisfied a lot of the time with the backwardness or the racist tones in our society that doesn't mesh at all with my own views on racism and discrimination and how I think society should be open and engaged with each others differences. Weighing that up and my desire to leave against the fact my family all lives here and I would miss them terribly and be isolated overseas is really the struggle for me.

Very good analysis, I never saw it this way, but yes now you say it!
I thik it come also to the they are :
1- Way too relaxed and don't give a **** about anything. Everyone has heard the 'no worries mate', so f#$ing annoying
2- They don't care about anything or anyone.
3- I also see them as completely immature, they are like big kids of rich people who constantly need our attention. If they don't have full attention, they get annoyed, sulk and can eventually cry.
4- They think they are awesome, but from an outsider perspective they're not.
I came here with no prejudice about Australians but in 5 years they make me hate awhole country, and I am verty open person, to new cultures, lived in different countries for many years.