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This blog is our answer to all paid trolls that keep lying about Russia.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Real Reason Why Russians Don't Smile

You might hear all kinds of explanations why Russians don't smile. Some of them point out that Russians need a sufficient reason to smile, like a joke. Or that a smile should be a sincere indication of someone's good mood.

These explanations would be fine and dandy if they addressed the root of the problem, however, they do not. They only label the behavior or right it off as a "custom". The real reason why Russians do not smile is much more disturbing.

More after the jump.

So, what is the REAL REASON why Russians don't smile?

First of all, let's try to combat the usual reasons that most people cite (we collected those from various sites to demonstrate their complete idiocy):

1. Russian smile is usually performed only with the lips, and the upper row of teeth is not visible

So, if we got that right, it is a very sad, depressive, insincere smile. It is almost like, "I would love to smile, I just can't. Don't blame me, I am Russian!" It would be interesting to know why Russians are so afraid to show their teeth in the process. No time for a dentist? They don't brush or floss their teeth?

2. In Russia, a smile is not a sign of politeness. 

And why is that one might wonder? Why can't you smile a little, especially if you don't even need to show your crooked teeth, to display some friendliness to another human being? We are scared to think what a sign of politeness can actually be in Russia. Sounds almost like, "Hey, I was polite, I did not kill you!" (try saying it in a Russian accent).

3. Russians don't usually smile at strangers. 

And again, why is that so? You know, there are other places where people don't smile at each other in the street. We can list them all, but there are way too many: Harlem, downtown Detroit, Iraq, Afghanistan...

4. It is not customary to smile back when someone smiles at you. 

And this is because it is somehow .... offensive or what? What is so wrong about smiling back at another person? 
Oh, we know. When someone smiles at you, you have to hit them in the face and say, "That's a warning! You smile - you dead. Welcome to Russia!"

5. In Russian culture, it is not acceptable to smile at a person if you accidentally catch their gaze. 

For the millionth time, why is it not acceptable? What is the reason? So what should you do instead, when you accidentally catch someone's gaze? Get your Kalashnikov out and shoot a few warning rounds?

6. For Russians, a smile is a signal of personal feelings for another person, as well as friendliness towards this particular person.

Of course, when Americans want to show another person that they like him, they just hit him over the head with a shovel. British, as we all know, do the same.

7. Russians do not consider it acceptable to smile while carrying out their duties, or while performing serious, responsible tasks. 

That's because if you smile while on duty, your submarine will sink and your rocket will explode in mid-air. Wait, this can happen even if you don't smile!

8. The Russian smile is a sincere expression indicating that a person is in a good mood. 

When Germans are in a good mood, they drink beer and wear lederhosen. When British men are in a good mood, they drink ale and wear their Union Jack shorts. And when Scottish are in a good mood, first they spin around in their kilts, then play their bagpipes, and only then drink Scotch. But none of them ever smile while doing this.

9. A Russian must have a valid reason to smile, and this reason should be known to those around him. Then and only then the person has the “right” to smile in the eyes of others. 

Sounds almost like a threat. What if you think something is funny when others think it is not? Don't you get the "right" to smile then? "Hey, comrade, stop grinning. Did you get your smiling permit?"

10. The reason for a person’s smile should be transparent, understandable to those nearby.

So if a person smiles without a reason, he will be put in a straightjacket and placed in the psychiatric ward on a suicide watch. Thanks, we get the picture.

11. Russians don't smile to cheer up a friend or as a sign of support.

Of course, they don't. They take out one bottle two bottles of vodka and pour it down their friend's throat till he finally cheers up.

12. A smile at official functions and among friends demonstrates positive mood and friendliness. 

Needless to say, a smile at official functions and among friends in the West demonstrates negative mood and a strong desire to kill someone.

13. There is no clear distinction between a smile and a laugh. 

That is downright scary, honestly. If you consider that Russians don't show their teeth when smiling, laughing with  your mouth  closed could be somewhat problematic. But this is the only statement that we are not going to question. We really don't need to know why there should be no clear distinction between a smile and a laugh.

It's not the time to smile!


First of all, let's think of a reason why people smile to strangers, and smile back when someone smiles at them. The most logical guess would be because they want to show their friendliness, positive attitude, and good intentions. A smile is more than just a sign of politeness. Just like shaking hands means "I will not harm you" smile means, "I am a friendly person, you can talk to me!" The only reason you wouldn't smile at another person is if you do not want to appear easily approachable and warm. Come to think of it, if you carry an AK-47, no matter how wide your smile is, most likely you won't look too welcoming. 

That's exactly what Russians want to do. They don't want to be seen as "easy targets". 

Please remember: Russians grew up in a tough, totalitarian environment where, according to Jill Dorothy, only the strongest survive. Smiling at others, especially strangers would show your vulnerability. Living in Russia is akin to living in prison: people do not smile at each other. And if they do, they must have a very good reason for doing so. 

Why would you want to appear vulnerable in the eyes of others, especially complete strangers? They will use your vulnerability to exploit you, they might take advantage of your friendly, cordial attitude. Your face, posture, and mannerisms should indicate to strangers that you are a serious and strong individual, ready to stand up for yourself. Your facial expression should be impenetrable to others that could be your potential enemies. It would be nice to know if people in North Korea smile at each other. Most likely, it is the same situation as in Russia. As a matter of fact, when Russians live abroad for a while, they actually learn how to smile to strangers and enjoy doing it. 

One might wonder why Russians never tell the truth about this. First of all, they don't even know the real reason. Secondly, they don't want to know the reason. They are simply not interested. Being in denial is so much easier. People believe whatever makes them more comfortable. To them, not smiling at others is just a custom, something they grew up with. 

Try doing a social experiment. Ask any Russian why it is not customary to smile at strangers in Russia. If he or she responds by saying Russians like to appear serious, ask him why. Keep asking why, and see how far it will get you. Most likely, there will be a point when this Russian person will finally admit that he actually does not know.

Here is another reason, a more profound, why Russians don't smile. According to THIS, our cultural norms dictate how wide we should smile. If we look at the report from the UC Berkely, we can clearly see that every single decade resulted in wider and happier smiles, since the cultural norms were slowly changing.

This is yet just another reason to believe that Russia is socially behind other nations. There is hope that in 200 years Russians will be smiling as wide as Americans do now. 


So, if you are in Russia, a word of advice: don't smile at strangers. Actually, just don't smile, period. 

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