I'm obviously not a Russian immigrant, but the topic of my post is about people and cultural differences in communication styles between Russians and Americans. I think I'm a pretty good judge of this, given that I communicate with only Russians almost every day on my blog. The content of my post isn't directed toward my normal readers, but the general ЖЖ community. Perhaps pora_valit doesn't want to publish an English language story there? That's fine, it's their choice, and I'll respect their decision. However, I copied my original post below and ask that you pass it along to others because I believe the content is important and worthy of reading and introspection.
I'm not Russian. I was born in America, and have lived here my entire life. I've traveled to over thirty countries, including three trips to Russia in the past two years. My English language blog on ЖЖ, consisting mostly of travel stories, is read only by Russians. We frequently discuss my travels from around the world, social issues and the prime cultural differences between America and Russia. Almost no one in my country uses ЖЖ, or has even heard of it. It's now completely dominated by Russian speakers. I write here because I'm curious about Russia and former Soviet bloc countries, and the inhabitants of these regions. The primary goal of my blog is to promote tolerance towards different viewpoints, ideas, cultures and lifestyles.
We have a lot of interesting discussions and the majority of my dedicated Russian readers are smart, with proper manners. However, my subscriber numbers have remained static for the past few months (around 1,500). So, I recently decided to promote two of my English language posts on the Cyrillic homepage. The main purpose was to draw more Russian readers to my blog, but the promotions in the Cyrillic community were also a social experiment...to see how Russians would react upon seeing something highly unusual - English text in the top promo box of ЖЖ.
Grab the popcorn, and let's see how the animals in the Russian blogosphere behaved...!
Unfortunately, the responses were exactly what I expected. Here's a sample of the comments I immediately received after the English posts appeared in the promo box:
"Why this shit lay down here in russian segment promo?!"
"нахуй это здесь?"
"I do not want to see this kind of post in promo of russian segment, it is ridicilous and stupid..."
"This is huita."
"чё за гавно висит в промо?"
"Люби Россию - пиши по-русски!"
"do you suck dick?"
I'm sorry, but I can't understand such rude and aggressive behavior. Why is there no curiosity or intrigue at the sight of something new? Absolutely no desire to understand my motives for being here. Instead, some type of animalistic behavior kicks in and people in the Russian blogosphere immediately attack. After all, writing some idiotic and unoriginal insult is much easier than taking the time to understand something, or someone, different. Civil people ask questions, in search of answers. Why not ask why an American is writing here, instead of attacking me?
Other Russians decided to give me advice about my dating life, a topic wholly unrelated to the post. A few psychoanalyzed my mental state, concluding that I must be miserable and unhappy because I'm unmarried and childless at age 41. Then, there are those Russians who refuse to accept that an American woman could legitimately be interested in Russian culture or people, creating all types of conspiracy theories in their heads. The most common conspiracy theory amongst the ЖЖ community is that I'm a former Soviet English teacher. Look at these comments, all posted in my journal over the past year:
"Мне тоже кажется, что английский в процитированном блоге идет скорее от очень качественной советской учительницы английского языка, чем от реальной американки. Так как неестественно много пассива, past perfect, have been, придаточных предложений перед главным и т.д."
And my absolute favorite! "Пользователь peacetraveler22 не американка, а вероятнее всего гуская беженка. Тексты в его/ее блоге написаны не на амерыкэн-инглиш. Причем настолько не амерыкэн-инглиш, что oн/она даже не могёт имитировать. Брайтон Бичь - наше всё, бггг.."
In America and most European countries, there's the mentality "to live and let live." In other words, do not be so concerned with the lives of others. I don't feel the need to correct or insult people, to know every detail of their life, or to contemplate or judge their inner happiness or well-being. I write here and communicate with Russians in search of answers, enlightenment, and greater insight into Russia and daily life there. I don't ask every woman I meet if she's married or has children, and assume she is flawed or unhappy if the answer to both questions is no. I don't care if someone is gay, an immigrant, Muslim, or has crazy opinions with which I don't agree. In fact, such people are sometimes the most interesting you will meet. To have an open dialogue with them leads to better self-understanding and reflection. It broadens your mental and analytic abilities. More importantly, it heightens the skill to process different beliefs, cultures and lifestyles, and choose the ones which best suit you. We are talking about basic human relations here - NOT geopolitical ones.
How about Russians who have immigrated to America - do Americans frequently correct your English, criticize your accent, question why you're in the USA, ask for every detail about your life/family, or constantly treat you with hostility?
So this is a plea and call to action for the ЖЖ Community. Please...let's tame the animals in the Russian blogosphere, or at least encourage them to be more creative with their insults. Because I'm growing tired of the monotonous phrases they write.
Do not be afraid to explore the unusual or different - be it ideas, cultures or people. Such exploration can be life transformative, if you only put your swords down long enough to open your minds and truly think.