So I’ve been in London now for about two months, and I’ve been loving it, aside from the shitty weather.


There is one thing that’s been different/difficult to get used to. Banter.

The weird thing is, Canada is a pretty sarcastic country, generally, and coming from Toronto, I felt like I had mastered the art of being charmingly insulting and terribly talented in one-upmanship. While this is so beyond true, obviously, one of the major differences I’ve noticed as a foreigner in this country is that there is a lot of well-meaning trash-talk that indicates that you are well-loved in London, whereas in Toronto the constant onslaught of diabolical quips would leave one politely debating whether or not to offer the main course of knuckle sandwich to their opponent.

It’s strange that our countries — which seem so similar at first glance — can be oh-so-different in so many random-yet-still-annoying capacities. Aside from the whole banter thing (which I think really designates a particular distinction in terms of the Brits and their love of reverse-snobbery in conjunction with a general forced-by-social-convention politeness which can either make a room refreshingly hilarious or incredibly awkward), there are multiple “rules” by which the laws of social interaction operate that are a constant source of HUH?! compared to the Canadian version of demented social behavior.

Coming from a country that is relatively “young” comparatively, and it being sort of the bookish bespectacled cousin of the super-cool-teenager-with-a-car-and-Journey-on-the-8track that is the United States, I feel as though Canada, pretty as she is, with great healthcare and an overwhelming sense of happiness pie, can, on occasion, emit a social aura of petulant stepchild desperate to be perceived as rebellious. But still living in mom’s basement.

Typically I find that Canadians define themselves strictly as “Not American”, as though that should be enough of a distinction to denote some wealth of culture less obvious and gaudy and therefore more refined. This, however, stuns me, as the majority of the pop culture that Canadians absorb is rarely Canadian, and the most obvious injecting culprit source is America. Defining your culture by being better than the politics, yet still playing in the refuse post-ticker tape parade seems all a bit “I’m not eating with you guys. I’m so totally taking that apple pie to my room so I can eat it and think about how much I hate you all.” AKA Canadian Thanksgiving/Macy’s Parade Envy.

In Canada, particularly, I find that pop culture (and therefore the social representation of that distilled culture) has been so watered-down by political correctness, by the choice between live-and-let-live-VS-i’m-better-than-youness, by chronic technological upgrades psychologically trickling down and resulting in necessitating social upgrade-by-commonality/community that it’s created a cultureless vacuum, a no-men-are-equal/all-men-are-islands effect. The individual striving to showcase “the individual”, and paradoxically sharing a common core sentiment of “I’m not like the rest of them” as the primary indicator of definitive individuality.

I don’t mean to suggest that this cultural phenomenon exists only in Canada, far from it. But its presence is so cheekily unmentioned, that, like the elephant in the room, eventually it begins to require it’s own place-setting. The difference I note in other countries is the obviousness and awareness of their own nationalistic affectations, and could well be analogized in the script of MEAN GIRLS: “I know it may look like I was being like a bitch, but that’s only because I was acting like a bitch.” Sometimes I prefer the un-subtleties.

Either way. Back to my original point, about how I thought of Canadians as typically quite sarcastic and surly, which I now recognize perhaps pales into insignificance alongside the jovial assholeishness of the English. And that Canadians perhaps have more work to do in defining their own social behavior-as-denoted-by-the-popular-culture.

That random rambling all being expunged from the record, originally I was going to help you out with your banter.

But I think these guys can help you more than I can.

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