Culture shock comes when you experience something old for the first time in a while, not something new

May 17, 2012 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog

If you live in New York City or many other places, you’ve doubtlessly gotten used to restaurants and bars having no smoke in them. Perhaps, like me, you’ve come to find the idea, or experience, of smoke around you when you eat or drink or in any public space you can’t avoid barbaric.

Does “barbaric” overstate things? I used to consider myself tolerant of smoke in bars and clubs. Actually, I still do, but I don’t see any way someone can smoke without potentially annoying everyone else there. I didn’t support banning smoking in restaurants and bars that much, but after habitualizing myself to smoke-free bars, clubs, and restaurants, smoky bars and clubs are horrible. Smokey restaurants seem barely acceptable any more.

Younger readers will probably have a hard time imagining that airplanes not only used to allow smoking, they merely designated the back few rows to half of the plane for smoking. Can you conceive that people somehow entertained the fantasy that smoke didn’t move past some imaginary line between the smoking and non-smoking section? Obviously the entire plane became a smoking section. No matter how much smokers want to not smoke, once one or two of them light up, the smoke makes everyone else want to. So you’d get a plane full of smoke.

China has done some amazing things with its public spaces, some superior to what New York has. Which I probably prefer to what the rest of the U.S. has (for some reason I think of public transportation first).

But they haven’t banned smoke in restaurants. But even smoky restaurants I can take when the cultures differ so much.

I’m writing this post because of an experience way worse than a restaurant full of smoke, at least for me. I got stuck in a smoker hotel room last night. I was the only one in the room and I didn’t register it strongly when I first entered the room, having been around smokers all day. But the effect of being in a room where everything emanated smoke — it didn’t take long for me to start feeling sick. And don’t get me wrong, I’d been hanging around smokers smoking all day.

Yeah, I find smoking in a way that forces your smoke on others barbaric. And the room last night shocked me about how smoke can invade your space.

Culture shock

People tend to think of culture shock happening when they visit a new place. But new things don’t shock you as much because you expect the change.

I find culture shock happens after you’ve acclimatized yourself to what was once a new environment and you return home. Your idea of normal changed and old things that once seemed normal now seem weird.

I call that culture shock, which is what I felt experiencing smokey environments after acclimatizing myself to relatively fresh air.

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