My friend who is currently traveling in Russia with his family just sent me an article that explains in great detail why Russians as a general rule don’t smile.
I read it. My first thought was ‘that’s way too complicated’.
My second thought was yes, smiles are welcoming and smiles are also done out of respect and politeness. But what’s wrong with that? And I really don’t need to say much more except to say that it has been my experience that smiles are pretty much universal.
I will admit there are pockets of exceptions.
I know why the people living in the high Andes aren’t prone to smile. It’s simply because they are miserable bastards. And I can understand that.
Travel in inbred places like parts of Appalachia and some people living back up in those ‘hollers’ are more likely to take a shot at you than give you a warm smile and invite you in for a glass of sweet tea. I understand that. There are lots of suspicious bastards living up in those hills.
But seeing how Russia is somewhat larger than a pocket I feel I just can’t give a blanket pass of understanding to an entire freaking country that somehow has contrived to create seemingly huge cultural reservations about something as disarmingly simple as a smile.
I say that because generally speaking a smile comes to many of us spontaneously as an expression of happiness. Even when I am alone I sometimes catch myself smiling.
Smiling is natural. And smiling is nature’s intended way of expressing your goodwill to a stranger.
It seems the Russians have suppressed a most natural expression.
And to what purpose I wonder?