Thursday, July 11, 2013

TMI, Oversharing?

In the hearing world, we cringe when we read Facebook statues that shared too much, we roll our eyes when someone divulges a piece of information to us that we really don't need to know, and we sigh exasperatedly when someone blogs about a personal tidbit in depth. 

In the Deaf world, it is perfectly acceptable to share things that may not normally shared in the hearing world, and to some, it can be a shock. I can count more than fingers on my hands how many times a Deaf person or even myself share things in depth. We talk about anything ranging from mild insignificant thing to very detailed story that can cause a blush on a nun's face. 

Because I grew up in the hearing world, and later became involved with the Deaf world, I find it amusing when I sit back, and talk with my Deaf friends in a company with some hearing friends because I like seeing reaction on the hearing friends' faces especially if they are not exposed to Deaf culture. Sometimes, they are surprised at how outrageous things can become in a conversation. Actually, to us, it's not that outrageous. 

Hearing Conversation: 

Hearing Person #1: I am so unhappy with my boss.
Hearing person #2: Why?
HP #1: He made me stay for the late shift to clean up. I was tired, and just wanted to go home. There was a huge mess everywhere. I don't get it why my boss didn't ask my co-worker to do it? I was about to take off. My co-worker was still working, and he could have done it.  
HP #2: Oooh, that's too bad.

 Deaf conversation: 

Deaf Person #1: I am so pissed at my boss. He's such an ass! 
Deaf person #2: Why is he an ass?
DP #1: I had to stay late last night to clean up. There was chunky green vomit everywhere in the bathroom. Man, it stunk in there. I was tired. I worked hard all day, and I just wanted to go home. My time was up. My co-worker was still on clock so why didn't my boss ask him? 
DP #2: That really blew. Why was vomit everywhere?
DP #1: Someone must have gotten drunk and didn't make it to the toilet on time. I had to rinse out of that mop full of vomit. Damn. That reminded me of the time when we went out, and you got really sick. Remember that? 
DP #2: Oh yes!!! I threw up everywhere. Ha ha ha ha! 
DP #1: That! 
DP #2: Damn, I feel bad for you. Your boss is an ass for sure. 

There you go. Deaf people have a tendency to add stories within the stories. It is a part of our communication style. We are not the only culture that does this. Matter of fact, Black culture does the same thing. I can't speak for other cultures because I am not sure if they do this as well. Anyway, it adds depth and richness to what we are talking about. 

Stu, my husband, when he first met me; he did struggle a bit with this because I can go off the track talking about other things that are somewhat pertaining to the situation I described in the first place, then I will eventually tie up the story to the current situation I am talking about, and it can take awhile to finish! Stu asked me once why I felt a need to do this, and I explained to him that it was not a need that I needed to do, but rather it was to bring more content to the story. It was why Deaf people could easily lose track of time, and talk for hours at end. Nothing was really held back. Everything was said, and shared. 

It is funny because like I mentioned earlier, I grew up in the hearing world so I adopted a lot of hearing attitude, and norms then I was all of the sudden put in the Deaf world. I thought to myself that Deaf people had no social filter, and did not know how to share information appropriately. I was embarrassed for them. Ah, how silly I was. In fact, I should have been embarrassed for myself for feeling this way! 

Now I understand how both worlds work, and I find it interesting how social filter boundaries change in both cultures. In Deaf culture, the boundary is a lot looser to bring more content to the story while hearing people are more simplistic with what they have to say especially to people they don't know well, and the hearing people are more prone to share more information with people they trust. Deaf people can be completely strangers, and have met for the first time, and share everything right there.

For example, yesterday I was at Deaf mom group gathering, and I was talking about breastfeeding struggles I had with a woman whom I have just met that day! Would have I done this with a hearing person if I had not known that person well? Most definitely no. 

Why? Because the boundaries are different. The norms are different. The attitude is different. If I had talked about my struggles with breastfeeding with a hearing woman, whom I have just met, and is a stranger to me then you can bet that woman will be eyeballing at me like What..The...? 

Yet...if this hearing woman is my friend, whom I have known for awhile, and I am talking to her about this same topic then it's fine. 

Yet with a Deaf person, we are having a conversation, and the topic can be about anything. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. It doesn't matter if the person is someone I have just met 5 minutes ago, or someone I've known for years, and years. 

Sometimes, the rules can be confusing especially to someone, who is very culturally Deaf and isn't exposed very much to the hearing world, and this Deaf person may come across as being very abrasive and inappropriate. In reality, she/he is just operating from Deaf culture values when it comes to sharing information. 

1 comment :

  1. I'm going to take your word on this, having not experienced Deaf Culture, but your description of the Deaf conversation sounds more normal to me. The tangents and details also sound more typically feminine than anything else. The stilted hearing conversation sounds very formal and I can only relate to it in terms of maybe speaking with friends of my parents or a business setting.