Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Say Cheese!

One of the first major cultural differences I noticed between Germans and Americans is the way they pose in pictures. For the most part, Americans put on a big smile when being photographed. Maybe it was stupid for me to assume that this was a global phenomenon, but I did. Upon our move to Germany and my constant observation of Germans (and other European tourists), I came to realize that smiling in pictures is not universal.

It's actually funny how they almost go out of their way to not smile in pictures. You can see a big group of people laughing, having fun, and smiling. When someone tries to capture the moment by taking a picture, the smiles fade and instead, a neutral look appears, and only then is the picture snapped.

The German (or maybe European?) smile-less picture phenomenon is one of the many non-verbal behaviors that differs from Americans. No head nod, no wave, no acknowledgement of of people passing you in the street (unless of course you know them), but most of all, no smiley pictures.

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