Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If You Can't Say Something Nice . . .

Last year, while climbing one of Bulgaria’s many beautiful mountains, Sasha and I came across a man sunbathing next to a lake.  We asked him for directions and he kindly obliged.  After hearing my accent, he asked where I was from.  I told him I was from America, and he began a rant about how terrible America was.  We thanked him for the directions, and we continued along our way thinking he must be a little crazy.

Every day, I am surrounded by Bulgarians.  I live as a guest in Bulgaria.  Like everywhere in the world, Bulgaria has some good aspects and some bad ones.  When I am asked what I think about Bulgaria, I tell my Bulgarian friends the good things.  I would never go on an anti-Bulgaria rant about the things I dislike here because that would be unkind.  (Besides, Bulgaria has so much good in it that I can easily overlook the bad.)

When Sasha was in America, there were things she liked and things she disliked, yet she would never openly declare her dislikes before others because it is rude to insult someone’s culture.  This is common courtesy.  Only rude people would act in such a manner.  Like the man on the mountain, such people seem a little nuts.

What seems rude in face to face conversations, often becomes acceptable in the world of social media.  Far too often, I have seen comments by immigrants to other countries insulting their host country on Facebook.  If you have even one Facebook friend who is from the host culture, this is dangerous territory.  You are openly insulting their nation and culture.  How would you like it if they went on an anti-wherever-you- are-from rant?  It is one thing to criticize your own country and culture.  It is another thing to criticize someone else’s.

As a guest in Bulgaria, I try to stay positive in my posts about my current home.  This is a country of beauty, and the people here are generally kind and welcoming.  Do they have flaws?  Of course they do.  But it is not my job to point them out.

To all my expat friends, I make this request.  Keep it nice on social media.  By only sharing the good things you will keep more friends, and you may just find that the bad things are not so bad.

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