I read this excellent article in Khaosod the other day written by a Thai journalist and they questioned why foreigners whom for so long have been looked up to by Thais, decide suddenly to adopt the customs, faiths and thinking’s of a Thai person. You know I really embraced and welcomed this article, they said all the things I had thought for some time but dare not say for risk of being grandeur and in some way anti-Thai; which incidentally the view does not reflect. I think this article hit the spot and the debate needs developing.
OK, so if you are in another country respect the natives and show willing to wai and show eagerness to engage, perhaps even learn the language – common sense, we are, after all, the same human species and we all need to get along. It’s just good all round manners. But there does seem a line in which once crossed must surely be a reflection on who you actually are as an individual and why you would decide to ‘go native’.
In todays modern world some of our own domestic customs and habits are on the decline. We are increasingly secular, chivalry is all but dead – male and females are treated equal -splitting food bills, opening doors for everyone regardless of sex is common practice. Compare that to Thailand, which is still heaped in tradition and custom, the masses are fairly consistent in what they do in the ways of habits and traits. Doing things in groups as opposed to Westerners who like to do things alone, such as a day at the beach. Even the traditional eating together in large groups on the floor is just not the Western way. So why do some people come here, fully embrace and convert and in every sense of the word ‘go native’. Stripping all their identities for the need to feel accepted by the Thai people – that has to be the reason doesn’t it? Well yes and no actually as I have a theory which I ll explain in a bit.
I am also quite sure Thais don’t warm to foreigners acting like them; in fact I am sure they see it as odd. Why would a Westerner who they have admired for so long, drop all their identity to become Thai?
I have to draw some parallel to Foreigners that go native to the many of us who feel the need to like every post they see on social networks like Facebook or feel the need to post their every movement and how they are feeling. ‘Feeling lousy today, but lets see how the day pans out’ type messages – Why do this, it’s odd? It is our vulnerability as humans to need to feel wanted or included…and it’s actually a very sad state of affairs.
I love the psychology of how and why us humans act like we do. In my sociology class of years ago the debate was did the individual drive society or does society drive and control the individual? Phenomenology versus Positivism. It fascinated me as both sides of the story made sense. I had a meeting the other day and the guy I was with said ‘you have leaders and you have followers’. And suddenly I connected the dots and it made sense. The leaders of this world, who are in control, are the ones whom are aware and can take a lead and move forward; on the other-hand you have the followers who obey and follow the herd, these are the guys who let society control them. It is these ‘followers’ that are the expats and foreigners who come to Thailand and ‘Go Native’.
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