Was this a bit inappropriate, or am i being too sensitive about it?

Today at lunch, one of my coworkers mentioned they were going on holiday to England (the country I'm from), specifically to London (the city I'm from). They knew I was from there (they didn't ask me about it, but that's only because I'm extremely quiet in work and don't really say much anyway). Then one of them mentioned that English people can be a bit abrupt (which I didn't mind, I'd even agree on it to be honest). But then they started to talk about how rude people from England can be, particularly people from London. They did quickly turn to me and said "Not you though, you're very quiet", but even so I thought they were being a bit insensitive. I wouldn't have cared too much that they were talking about me. But my mum, brother and uncles are from London and they're the nicest people I know (way nicer than I am if I'm honest), and then they were basically insulting them right in front of me. It's not even that they have those opinions about the English that bothers me, a lot of people do, it's just the fact that they said it in front of me upset me a little.

If I read this question from anyone else, I'd assume that those coworkers were just a bunch of assholes. But the reason I'm even asking if this is ok is because my coworkers are all really nice, which is why it surprised me that they said all that in front of me. So that's the reason why I think I'm just being a bit sensitive about it. I don't know, what do you think?

Is It Normal?
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Comments ( 20 ) Sort: best | oldest
  • There are rude people on every continent. People will talk about them if they’ve had a bad experience. Don’t take it personally.

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  • Talking shit about someone or what they stand for, as if the person were not even in the same room, IS rude as hell.

    Assuming you are in the USA right now, just know that the racists, xenophobes, homophobes, and bigots have gotten a lot more outspoken since Trump is in office. He is the worst of them all.

    Suddenly they think they can just talk shit.

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    • The Trump haters have gotten a lot more outspoken as well.

      And yes, they can talk shit. Anyone and everyone can talk shit and feel free to do so.

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    • Yeah I was really surprised at it, especially from them since they're so nice. No I'm not in America, I live in Ireland actually.

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      • I lived in Scotland for about thirty years. Something I noticed is a large part of many Scots' self-definition is that they're "not English". The cultural attitudes are different in some ways, but the Scots and English are far more similar than different. Yet many Scots take huge pleasure in highlighting every little difference. Many are convinced that your average Scot is, in some vague way, better than your average English person.

        It's the result of the imbalance between the two countries in economic, cultural, and population terms. The Scots and Welsh cling to their national identities, and that makes many emphasise or even manufacture differences between them and the English.

        The Republic of Ireland is obviously no longer part of the UK, but the history of the country is entangled with that of England, and the same applies.

        As for them being pleasant to you, that's not surprising. People very often cling to stereotypes of other nationalities, cultures, or religions because that makes life simple for them. When they interact with someone belonging to one of those groups on an individual level, they understand they don't fit the stereotype. They could deal with that by reconsidering their stereotype, but that would result in a large shift of their whole world-view and it could challenge their self-identity. So most people take the easy route and make the person an exception to the rule.

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  • English people overthink a lot, particularly those from London.

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  • I'll be the lone voice of dissent here.

    They respect you enough to be honest about what they think in front of you, even though you might disagree with them.

    Also: I've never been to Ireland, but the part of the U.S. where I grew up was swarming with Irishmen, and I noticed that they almost universally despised the English, so it seems odd to me that you'd be surprised by this experience.

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    • Yeah, I do obviously know of the history of all that and why the Irish hated the English in the past, but I've never before come across any discrimination towards me or any dislike of the English myself personally.

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      • Well, just think: As long as you're in Ireland you get to be an ambassador for your people. You can change people's perspectives on the English and all you have to do to accomplish it is just be be nice to everyone.

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  • It is a bit inconsiderate, but you should have said that it isn't okay to stereotype people like that.

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    • Yeah I know. It was only afterwards though, once I had time to think about it, that I realised it was a bit offensive. Plus honestly I was just too cowardly.

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  • Idk how to vote. Yes I think it was innapropriate, no I dont think youre being too sensitive. Definitely rude to stereotype a place like that.

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  • So those people are some Very judgmental pricks. Tell fuel-efficient - They shouldn't be such judgmental pricks, it can get them hurt in london. People don't like being judged. Just don't tell them you are kidding.

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  • This is an example of people being an asshole.

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  • They're gauging your reaction, seeing what you'll say or do.

    Believe me, if you were born and raised in Ireland like them, they wouldn't have said any of that, but rather boast about how they are going on a trip. They were hoping you'll fit the stereotype they heard about English people, and give them a show.

    In the end, you did the right thing. If you were to lash out you would have proved them right no matter how wrong they were. Unless you know them truly, people are just people, no matter how nice they seem.

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    • Yeah, if I had read someone else posting this question then I might agree with you. But after spending time with them for the last year, I am 100% certain they're not like that tbh. They are genuinely nice people. It just didn't occur to them that it was a bad thing to do, which is strange alright but I'm sure that's all it is. Thanks for trying to warn me about them anyway though.

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  • That was rude. You're not being sensitive. It's fine to think whatever you like but saying that in front of you was a bit out of order.

    They probably forgot themselves in the heat of the moment.

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  • Ignorant people say ignorant shit.

    I assume you live in the States. Americans are - and here's another sweeping generalisation - shockingly ignorant about the rest of the world, and most have a hugely inflated opinion of their country.

    I was born and grew up in the States, but I've lived in Britain for the majority of my life. If you want my stereotype of Brits, it's that they're the opposite of rude. If anything, they have an annoying habit of rarely saying exactly what they mean, and are often very good at maintaining a polite front when they actually despise you.

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  • Some people are just rude assholes.

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