Many of you guys know, Americans could possibly be the best at chit-chatting. We are the ones who will start a conversation while we are waiting in line, when we know someone is lost, or just for the heck of it. But there are some topics that are absolutely forbidden at dinner table or just about any setting….
Religion - I don't want to say that religion is a topic that is absolutely forbidden. You should judge the setting you’re in. If you are among friends that are open-minded and curious, then religion may be a cool topic to discuss. But for example, if you are at work, it may be better to just avoid it because you don't want to offend someone by something you may say or vice versa. Another thing you may want to avoid is assuming someone’s religion based on their appearance and/or origin (where they come from). A common assumption that Americans make is thinking that people from India are Hindi (Hindi is a language, not a religion). Always keep an open mind, judge the setting and go from there. If you want to ask about someone’s religion, perhaps the best way to go about doing it is in a private setting, don't do it in front of everyone. Sometimes, these discussions are educative and may lead us into becoming even more tolerant!
Salary - All right, so this one annoys me a lot. America is all about money. People like to flash how much they make by showing off their fancy cars, homes, watches, you name it! In companies, money is always a hot topic - budgets, business deals, etc. But for some reason, when it comes to personal finances, it is absolutely, in all situations, forbidden. That is why there is a discrepancy between how much people in the same rank earn. If things were more transparent this wouldn't be an issue. To be honest, I don’t even know how much my parents make and my parents don’t ask me how much I make. This is completely different than other societies that I have been exposed to, for example, the Finnish society. They talk about their salaries because all salaries in Finland are considered public knowledge. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why in Scandinavia might have a strong middle class and there’s not a huge gap between the rich and poor?
Politics - Another one that never leads to anything but trouble, especially now. There is a huge division between Republicans vs. Democrats, Trump-lovers vs. Trump-haters, and anything else you can imagine. So don’t bring it up, don’t even try to insinuate anything that might be even slightly related to politics. The only way you can bring this topic up during dinner is if you are absolutely sure the people you are with are on your same side. Otherwise it may lead to some heated arguments, someone getting offended, or someone simply walking out out of dinner. I have to admit though, I’m one of the brave (or stupid) ones that likes to bring up politics whenever I meet someone new. I try to listen to the opposing side and try to understand their point. However, at the end of the day, they will never change my mind and vice versa. For me it’s just fun.
Sex - Oh man, so sex…everyone knows what it is, but in the US, we just don’t talk about it. Yes, we have one of the largest porn industries in the world, but we are definitely considered prudes when it comes to talking about it. Let me start with nudity. Not sure if you know this (non-US readers) but we sensor anything related to sexuality, that includes butt-cracks, which to me is a bit too extreme. We are taught from an early age to hide our bodies. I remember in middle school, we (the girls) would go into individual fitting rooms to change our clothes and this behavior followed all the way into our adulthood. You can see the same tendencies at gyms, people will go to the fitting rooms to change. Why are we so ashamed and why have we sexualized the human body so much? While traveling around Finland I encountered a completely different perspective on the human body - a non-sexualized one. Finland is a country that revolves around saunas. Each home has a sauna and to your surprise, you go into saunas butt-naked with anyone and everyone (no matter the gender, age, sexuality, etc). They don’t go there to have sex with someone, they go there to relax and have meaning conversations with one another. Of course, the first time I went into a sauna naked was with my then-boyfriend, sister and partner. Let me tell you, it was extremely awkward, but after a while, you feel free and actually liberated. So what’s up Americans?! Why can’t we be more open about our bodies? We should learn to accept our bodies and different body types. And sex…well, everyone does it. I’m definitely not saying have open conversations with your grandparents or parents, but we shouldn’t stigmatize it, it’s natural!
What are your thoughts? What are some topics that are not discussed in your country?