Different cultures, different meanings. Body language is read by some people just as much as various signs or gestures which we take for granted and which, over the years, have almost lost their meaning. Where we shake our heads to mean No, others mean Yes; we greet with a handshake, others stick their tongue out. What for us, in the United States, has become a gesture with absolutely no real meaning is a major insult elsewhere.
Photo Credit: HckySo – Creative Commons
The middle finger, for example, is an insult in Germany which can lead to prosecution. In the same way calling a policeman an old sock or talking to an officer in the informal sense (Du in German, as opposed to Sie, formal) is an insult, both to the policeman and, in the latter case, to their position.
I guess I am just a little more aware of different signs and gestures than most people, since I use them almost every day. Talking to myself can be a pleasure, funnily enough, simply because no one knows that I am doing it! No one can hear me.
But do we even think about what other people see when we gesture or move our bodies? That uncontrolled roll of the eyes when someone says something silly, but means it seriously. Or the look almost of panic when we see someone on our side of the street who we really want to avoid. Or the drooping of our eyelids, corners of our mouths, the sagging of shoulders as we become overcome with boredom. And little things, like smiling with our mouths, but not with our eyes.
Photo Credit: zubrow – Creative Commons
I wonder how many people really think about the gestures they make, about what other people – in conversation or just in passing – really get to see. Do they even notice when you’re really not interested in talking to them and just want to get back to something else? Do people who flirt notice the signs of disinterest?
Photo Credit: Deemonita – Creative Commons
Come to that, do people walking down the street even notice anyone else? Sometimes I get the feeling we have become a society of introverts who cannot read what is in front of our eyes, who are so concerned with ourselves that nothing else registers. Introverts in the sense that we look at our own space, our own interests, our own lives without taking anyone else into consideration, without reading what other people are saying. We cut ourselves off from everyone else, in real life, and have forgotten what it is to communicate without a keyboard.
Love & Kisses, Viki.