Soft vs. Sharp Culture

There’s been a lot of discussion of ask vs guess vs tell culture. I propose an orthogonal social axis: soft vs sharp culture. In soft culture, people are polite; they don’t make rude jokes about each other or about outsiders. They laugh less and less boisterously. Criticism is less common. In sharp culture, people are “mean”—they are constantly ribbing each other. Humor and honesty are valued more. Kindness and social harmony are valued less.

Basically all comedians are sharp culture. Most churches are soft culture.

Both have their pros and cons, but the real issues arrive when they interact without agreeing on the terms of their interaction. People either demand their norms be the joint norms, or they don’t realize that the other culture exists with its own internally coherent norms, or they think their culture is *strictly* better.

I’m totally sharp culture. I slightly prefer to be around sharp culture people. But I think soft culture has important insights.

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