Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Ereine on August 09, 2010, 07:14:17 AM

Title: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Ereine on August 09, 2010, 07:14:17 AM
(I'm sorry about the title, I couldn't think of anything better)

Recently there's been several threads that have involved social situations and people not being involved in them during the whole time (like the falling asleep in the car thing). The idea that you should be sociable during the whole time is a bit surprising to me, in my country being antisocial isn't really seen as something bad (very sociable people are suspicious). I was wondering if it would be always rude or if there are some exceptions.

I spent last weekend with my boyfriend and his friends (three men, three women) at a country place owned by the parents of one of the friends (it was a wonderful place with sheep and chickens and lots of antiques), we were there from Saturday morning to Sunday evening, so quite a long time. Most of the time people were together, eating, cooking and looking at the sheep. Some people might have drifted a little but during the main social events (mainly meals) everyone was present. Apart from one event, where I didn't take part.

The place was by a lake and as they other people love saunas and swimming they spent couple of hours in the evening doing that. I stayed at the house and read a book. My reason was that I'm rather shy and uncertain about my looks, I don't want to be naked in front of a group of people I don't know that well (actually it's easier to be naked among strangers, like at the pool) and I don't really enjoy saunas that much, especially small saunas where you have to sit very close to the other naked people. They also swam naked, they didn't even bring swimming suits with them (and the place is private enough so that it doesn't bother the neighbours). I don't enjoy that much swimming either, so I much prefered sitting on the porch reading. I could have sat on the beach also, but I didn't really want to look at the naked people (I seem very repressed :)). They didn't seem to mind and apparently there have been people who won't go to sauna with them (like an American girl), but I guess that it might have been better if I took part in some way. So if going with them would have been very stressful for me (staying there was stressful enough), what should I have done? 
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: MovieLover on August 09, 2010, 07:52:59 AM
I think it's unreasonable to expect guests to take part in every single activity that has been planned in a situation like that.  I wouldn't have gotten naked and gone into the sauna either, a book sounds like the exact alternative I would have chosen.  I absolutely hate to sweat.  Naked activities seem appropriate to me only when you know that EVERYONE that will be present is perfectly OK with it.

Declining to get naked and sit in a hot steam room is not rude, insisting that a guest do so however, is rude (not that this happened in your case).
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: bopper on August 09, 2010, 08:02:37 AM
I think if there was one event that you didn't take part in, that isn't rude. If you went off on your own most of the time, that would be rude.  BTW I still don't think that one person of many falling asleep in a car is rude and that driver is out of the norm.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Ereine on August 09, 2010, 08:13:43 AM
I completely forgot to add that I have trouble with anxiety and just going there was a huge step. And here's (http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=77407.0) my previous thread on my dating problems, I've progressed a lot since then.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: PeasNCues on August 09, 2010, 08:18:42 AM
I think that if the group had made it clear ahead of time that everyone would be expected to participate in group activities the whole time, then it would be best not to accept the invitation since you couldn't agree to the requirements of the group.

However, it sounds like your group was very understanding. :) Glad things are getting better for you!
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: magdalena on August 09, 2010, 08:19:43 AM
Ereine, as a fellow Finn I can assure you that it's ok to skip the sauna (not that I ever do now that I don't get the chance to go that often) and swimming.

MovieLover, while I can understand your view on naked activities, I have to defend Ereine's friends here - a summer weekend in the countryside in our home country always, ALWAYS includes sauna :)
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Venus193 on August 09, 2010, 08:56:27 AM
I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this, but I think that if you look at the planned activities and decide to opt out of more than a third of them you may be better off declining the invitation.

For the record I don't get naked with anybody, so no matter what your culture says you should not feel strange for feeling that way yourself.

With family it's a little harder.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: kingsrings on August 09, 2010, 10:01:46 AM
I wouldn't get naked with a bunch of strangers either, even though I'm 1/4 Finnish. Not participating in that part of my culture, thank you.

I think that with social events, if you're not partaking of most of it, then that is rude, and you should decline to participate. Taking a breather by yourself for a little bit is no big deal.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Flora Louise on August 09, 2010, 11:20:06 AM
(I'm sorry about the title, I couldn't think of anything better)

. . . (very sociable people are suspicious).  . . .

This makes me so sad.


Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Lisbeth on August 09, 2010, 11:25:22 AM
Well, I think that if you (generic) plan to not participate in, say, the majority of events, you shouldn't go.

But if you only want to decline a few events, that's reasonable.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Surianne on August 09, 2010, 11:30:15 AM
I think that with a weekend-long gathering it's quite normal for some people to opt out of some events, and not rude at all.  I'm an introvert and definitely need time to myself, so my friends know that when we get together for a long period of time, I'll probably wander off with a book at some point for some quiet.  Generally we have the main group events and then a lot of "do whatever you want" time. 

Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Ereine on August 09, 2010, 11:41:38 AM
(I'm sorry about the title, I couldn't think of anything better)
. . . (very sociable people are suspicious).  . . .
This makes me so sad.

It isn't fun for sociable extroverts, the idea is that "empty barrels make most noise", that is if you talk a lot you probably don't have anything meaningful to say (I don't think so). Also, silence is golden and so on. It does make life easier for introverts, though.

Magdalena, is was a lovely place for sauna and swimming, in Kemiö by a lake (which was a bit strange, a lake on an island), with the sauna next to the beach. They seemed to have a lot of fun, judging by the noise :) (I went swimming the next morning with my boyfriend while the others slept, that was enough swimming for me)

Thank you for your replies, it's good to know that that isn't a bad way to handle things, if I'm in the same situation again.     
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: guihong on August 09, 2010, 11:44:47 AM
This might be the dumbest question in the world, but in Finland, are saunas like the one described co-ed?  It doesn't change my answer, which was that the OP was fine in opting out. 

(I would have gone, but only BECAUSE these were strangers, and hello!  I'm in Finland  ;D)

I asked, because in everything I've read about Russian banya, it's either separate sections or separated by day (women come on Monday, men on Tuesday, for example).

gui
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Carnation on August 09, 2010, 11:50:46 AM
I'm sure you're not the first person who has declined such an invitation.

Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: zoidberg on August 09, 2010, 12:05:53 PM
This might be the dumbest question in the world, but in Finland, are saunas like the one described co-ed?  It doesn't change my answer, which was that the OP was fine in opting out. 

(I would have gone, but only BECAUSE these were strangers, and hello!  I'm in Finland  ;D)

I asked, because in everything I've read about Russian banya, it's either separate sections or separated by day (women come on Monday, men on Tuesday, for example).

gui

Saunas tend to be co-ed in most of Europe. There might be a "Just for women" slot sometimes, but it's considered completly normal to go with mixed-groups.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Ereine on August 09, 2010, 01:02:30 PM
I think that in Finland it actually might be more common to separate by gender (for example families tend to go to sauna together until the children hit puberty), co-ed saunas might be a more studenty thing to do. Though they aren't rare and are completely normal, I think that usually and especially with older people it's gender separated. A common scenario has an extended family or friends staying at a summer cottage. You would start heating the sauna in the afternoon (the be really authentic you need a wood stove), then the women would go there, with children if there are any. After that the men (they get more heat and get to stay longer) and the women will start making dinner (the traditional scenario isn't very equal, men would probably chop the wood and heat the sauna). Quick googling confirms that some people do it (mostly people who have studied certain subjects, for example engineers like to do it, and people with groups of very old friends, like my bf, who actually is also an engineer), some do it when they're drunk, some are extremely against it (they don't want their husbands to see naked women, for example. I think that as my bf has been doing saunas with these people for years it wouldn't do any good even if I was against it, he knows what they look like naked already), some are somewhere in between. I think that saunas in Finland are still mainly seen as a family thing and as a way to get clean (nothing makes you feel cleaner). And almost all public saunas are separated.

I haven't actually ever been to a co-ed sauna, at least as an adult. There have been other opportunities, like when I was at a camp when I was 15, but I was too shy then (my friends went and told that a 17 year old camp councillor liked being naked in the same room with girls a bit too much). They did sauna nights at my college, I don't know if they were co-ed as I knew that they incolved a lot of alcohol and I wasn't interested. And I don't really do summer cottages so I usually go to sauna with just my mother (my apartment doesn't have a sauna so I go when I'm there).
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: Master_Edward on August 09, 2010, 01:09:51 PM
No I don't believe it's rude to not join in every social situation that you might come across. But then I'm someone whose pretty outgoing. Yes I enjoy doing social activities as much as I can with other people but there's something to be said for being alone sometimes. By the way I wouldn't have done the sauna either. I tried a sauna only once and I hated it. I'm here in America so like 90% of the time people would be wearing swimsuits anyway. But I hated how hot and uncomfortable it was and if I was expected to go naked that's not happening. I wouldn't be too worried about seeing other people naked but I'm not very comfortable with other people seeing me naked.

Ed.
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: magician5 on August 09, 2010, 01:56:20 PM
Most posters so far have said (and I agree) that you're fine as long as you're not declining to join every social event. I'm glad the others didn't seem to mind. I find that it helps make my attitude clear if I express my regrets before anyone has a problem with me: "Guys, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet so much, you go skinny-dip, have fun, and I and my skin will put my feet up and finish this book."

As for the sauna, I love saunas (I feel so clean afterward) but I wouldn't want to be crammed too tightly in one with a bunch of other sweaty people emanating toxins from their pores. But I'm fine with the nudity ... used to be a bit shy until someone long ago re-framed it for me: "It's no big thing, everybody knows what everybody's got."
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: JoanOfArc on August 09, 2010, 02:43:19 PM
I think it is unreasonable to expect anyone to be sociable every minute for an entire weekend.  So, OP, I think you are fine.  I need time to myself everyday and if I am with a group, I still find ways to carve out a block of time and be alone.  As long as your particpate in the majority of activities and are not rude about the alone time (which you weren't), you are fine. 

And, in general, I would think skipping an event where others are naked should garner no comment.  Some people aren't comfortable with nudity and they should never be pressured to participate.   
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: magdalena on August 10, 2010, 12:53:26 AM
Fun fact: the first time I went to a co-ed naked sauna in my adult life was in Germany. In Finland it had always been separated by gender - or a "bathing suit sauna" with a bunch of friends. It took me some getting used to but by now I hardly notice that I'm naked (except when someone I know well suddenly turns up at the sauna and I realize that we've only ever met clothed before  :P)
Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: blarg314 on August 10, 2010, 04:41:38 AM

I think that in this sort of situation a lot of it comes down to *how* you opt out of stuff, or how you participate.

If you go to an event and decide that you don't like or won't participate in more than about a third or half of the activities, then people will start wondering why you came.

If you are act grouchy, or offended, or out of sorts, when it comes to a given activity you are opting out of then people tend to notice. If you graciously deflect it, they are less likely to mind. For example, suppose you are at a gathering and people drag out a board game and you hate board games. Announcing "I hate boardgames" and then pulling out your iPhone and texting people is going to look a lot more anti-social than saying "Oh, I've never been good at this sort of thing. I'll just watch".

And it depends on the nature of the event. For the above example, going to a board game themed party when you hate boardgames and have no intention of playing is different than opting out of one informal section of a larger event.

There's also the issue of how visible your non participation is. If everyone else is having a conversation, and you are sitting there with you headphones on and a book, ignoring everyone, it will come across differently than saying "I'm really tired, I think I"ll rest a bit" and excusing yourself for a while.

Title: Re: Is it always rude not to take part in a social situation?
Post by: NestHolder on August 10, 2010, 05:39:46 AM
What blarg314 said.  So long as you don't get stroppy and make a big fuss about how Activity X is immoral, depraved, disgusting, boring, etc, and just quietly say you'd prefer a bit of quiet time to read, I don't see that there is anything wrong with opting out of part of the weekend's activities.  You're fine.