This is another article in the series I mentioned yesterday about human development and behavior. I find the notion of taboo fascinating. What is taboo in our culture, and what is taboo in other cultures (they're not always the same).
In this part of the series, the interviewer and main interviewee talk about complex social interaction. One of the things that the woman brings up is that some conversation topics are taboo. One she mentions is death.
I didn't realize talking about death was a taboo :).
I believe there are different layers of conversation, times when some topics are okay, and times when they are not. That's what I've learned over the years, anyhow. Personally, I've struggled with tact and appropriate behavior for quite some time.
Yet I find that the people I'm drawn to, the people I find interesting are almost always the ones who push that envelope. Who bring up uncomfortable truths no one wants to talk about. Not in a hurtful manner, of course, that's not easy to be around either.
It's a balance - and a difficult line to tread. I have sympathy for people who aren't able to navigate that line - who may be pre-disposed to not see those taboos or effortlessly navigate complex social interaction.
With that said, the cultural taboos I found in Russia were fascinating as well. They were not second nature to many of us (the American students). Fortunately, some students had been there before and sent us a workbook full of tips. Some could be considered superstition - but the line between taboo and superstition isn't terribly far. Things like women were not supposed to sit on concrete or the ground (bad luck). Or to give an even number of flowers (it meant death).
I don't know if there were conversation topics that were taboo, I never understood the language or culture enough.